24 hours in a day.
That’s 1,440 minutes.
That’s 86,400 seconds.
Those aren’t small numbers, but do you find yourself still wishing you had more time in a day?
Personally, I try to squeeze as much as I possibly can into each and every day, but there are plenty of days where it’s time to go to bed and I think about all the things I WISH I could have checked off my list.
Now, I consider myself to be a motivated person ready to get sh*t done every chance I get.
I was so overwhelmed by all the tasks unchecked on my list, and I felt like I was falling more and more behind.
Then one of my mentors (everyone needs one of these) started talking about the importance of maximizing our time, getting more out of our day, and doing what we love.
I took a real good look at my schedule and realized it’s no surprised I’m overwhelmed – I am missing out on SO MUCH time in my day!
Then I heard the results of a study that said that the average adult has four to five hours of free time in a day that he or she doesn’t even realize!
Where does that free time go?
Time on our phones and computers.
Weren’t those things invented to give us more free time?
Regardless, I started to pick apart my schedule to identify how I could get more done in
a day and have more free time.
Here’s what I came up with.
#1 Skip the Snooze
Believe it or not, I don’t just spring out of bed in the morning because I like the snooze button just as much as you.
Are we REALLY getting that much more sleep?
According to a variety of doctors and researchers, the answer is no.
It’s actually disturbing our restorative or REM sleep because it initiates a Fight-Or-Flight response in our body and elevating our heart rate and blood pressure in a time where we want and need the body to be calm and restful.
In a simpler explanation, you’re not actually getting any additional sleep in those 5 to 10 minutes.
There are plenty of us (myself included) that have grown accustomed to or swear we need the snooze button. For the majority of us, that just means we’re overall not getting enough sleep at night (more on that later).
#2 Morning Movement or Workout
“I can’t work out in the morning.”
“I can’t get up any earlier.”
“My body needs to work out in the afternoon.”
Hold up before you start layering on the reasons why you cannot work out in the morning, and take note of the fact that it says morning movement OR workout.
I have plenty of clients who a morning workout is just not an option. I GET IT.
However, that’s not to say that you cannot take 5 to 10 minutes to move your body in the morning (Hey, how long do you typically snooze for?).
In case you don’t already know, our mental and physical sides work hand-in-hand.
If you add 5 to 10 minutes of intentional movement to your morning every day because it initiates blood flow, improves mood, and jumpstarts the brain’s processing abilities for the upcoming day.
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SIMPLE WAYS TO ADD MOVEMENT TO YOUR MORNING OR YOUR DAY IN GENERAL, CHECK OUT THIS BLOG I POSTED A WHILE BACK.
#3 Meditate or Journal
I don’t know about you but my mornings are all about the hustle and bustle.
Get up and get going as fast as possible.
Do you know what actually got me up and ready for my day faster?
Adding journaling and mediation to my morning.
It’s kind of ironic that slowing down, stopping to sit down and breathe or write can give you some additional time.
From the outside, it most definitely is taking up a portion of your morning time.
But from the inside, it helps to center your focus, clear your head, and start your day with a positive mindset.
Again, I’m not asking you to take 30 additional minutes out of your morning.
Keep it simple.
Start with 5 to 10 minutes (Again, how long does your typical snooze run for?).
#4 Eat Breakfast
With the universal belief of it being the most important meal of the day, it’s hard to believe I still have to tell clients to eat breakfast!
Your first meal of the day plays a major impact on your productivity and energy throughout the day.
If you’re not sold on breakfast, I want you to think about something.
While sleeping, you’re not taking in any calories (unless you sleep eat?), and you’re actually burning calories while your body undergoes the repair process.
That’s 6 to 8 hours without any calories coming in.
Now, I’m also willing to bet to you’re not wrapping up your last bite as you lie your head down on the pillow.
Let’s tack on another 1 to 2 hours without eating.
Finally, you skip breakfast and just choose to wait until lunch around 11 or 12.
No wonder your energy levels are waning around 10:00 AM and again after lunch!
You’re burning all sorts of calories throughout the morning without ever putting anything back in! Your body is running on what’s stored and fumes!
No need for a gourmet buffet, but start you morning off with a good protein and carbohydrate source, and notice just how much better you feel throughout your day.
Not sure where to start with breakfast? Grab a copy of The Complete Cookbook to get some ideas.
#5 Make a Daily To-Do List
I don’t care what your position is, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a list of everything that needs to get done in a day?
There are plenty of days where I’m scared to know how much time I waste thinking about what to do next…
It’s not because I’m unorganized or distracted.
It’s the sheer fact that sometimes the amount of things that need to get done in a day is
There’s this thing that can tell you everything that needs to get it done.
It’s called a To-Do List.
Something you can write up every day and if you prefer, cross things off as you finish them.
Leave that list sitting out on your desk, so as soon as you finish one task, there’s no question as to what’s next.
Eliminate feeling overwhelmed and times of uncertainty and get more done in a day – sounds like a win-win?
#6 Time Blocks
Now, your to-do list takes care of all that needs to be done, but what happens if you can’t help but focus on everything else on that list?
Take your to-do list to the next level.
Set time blocks for your day.
Time blocks mean you set specific times in your day for working on those to-do list items.
I look at it as filling in your schedule or eliminating the down or uncertainty time.
The beautiful thing about time blocks is that they allow you to focus on the task at hand because you know that you’ve also set aside time to work on the remaining items.
Take your time blocks seriously, and add them to your phone calendar with a reminder so that you can easily say “no” to the less important or distracting tasks and maintain productivity.
#7 Do the Hardest Task First
When you’re building that to-do list and forming those time blocks, I recommend the things at the top of your list are the most challenging tasks.
Attack your toughest task with the clearest head and most brain power.
If there’s nothing that’s “tough,” think about what requires your most focus and attention.
Your focus and attention is best in the morning because you haven’t expended a day’s worth of energy on decision-making.
For example, when I’m writing blogs or putting together some longer, written forms of content, I set aside time in the morning for those tasks.
Yes, there’s a full list of smaller, simpler tasks that could be easily knocked off during the day; however, the thoughts and words flow much easier, and I’m actually able to spend
less time on writing when it’s done in the morning.
#8 Keep Your Workspace Organized
There are really two types of people in this world – those with a few things on their desk or those with mountains of papers and folders.
Where do you fall?
If you’re someone with the entire contents of your desk on top, it might be costing you some time throughout the day.
For the obvious reason of having to spend time during your day searching for the items you’re looking for, but that’s not all…
Whether you realize it or not, the chaos on your desk is taking away from your overall focus as your mind will want to drift back to things lying around on your desk.
Keep the surface of your desk clean and well organized, so you’re able to focus on the task at hand and optimize your time.
#9 Schedule Time for Social Media
Everyone’s suggestion for creating more time is to get off your phone and social media, but is that truly realistic?
So if it’s nearly unavoidable, then we just need to be mindful of the time spent on it.
Schedule time in your time blocks for phone and social media time.
Keep the time short – something like 15 to 20 minutes.
The important piece is then sticking to it.
I recommend setting a timer or at least a reminder for the next time block.
Then you must honor that time block and bring your focus to the next task.
#10 Start Saying No
Now, when I was a kid, “No!” felt like the biggest swear word of them all.
If mom, dad, or any authority figure told you do something, “no” was most definitely not the answer.
But now, you might need to start saying “no” if you want to get more done and have more time for what you love.
It’s a blessing and a curse, in that so many of us feel obligated to say “yes” every time we’re asked to help out.
Personally, I feel as if I’m disappointing that person or missing out on an opportunity.
But then I was so wrapped up in saying “yes” to other people, that I forgot to say “yes” to my own tasks and to the things I enjoy.
At that point, I started to make a list of what I like to call “Hard No’s.” These are the things where if I’m asked to do something during these tasks or activities, I have to say no.
Add the explanation of WHY you’re saying no (the genuine and empathetic one) it has made no SO MUCH EASIER.
#11 Read, Don’t Skim
This takes me right back to college. I tried to skim everything. It’s way faster, right?
The number of people who can ACTUALLY absorb information from skimming is minuscule, and while we think it’s faster, think about what happens when you try to recall the information? There isn’t a lot there…
Skimming will get you by faster the first time around, but if you’re trying to absorb and process the information, you’ll have to go back and skim through a few more times. By the time you do that, you’re better off just reading the information outright the first time around.
#12 Do Not Disturb
Did you know you don’t have to answer every single text, email, or call that comes into your phone?
We’ve trained ourselves to react and pick up our phone as soon as it buzzes or rings; however, constantly picking up your phone makes it difficult to get things done during the day.
But the phone makers aren’t stupid….
There’s this cool function called “Do Not Disturb.”
When you turn that on, you don’t get any notifications, and it leaves you free to work without distraction.
“But what if there’s an emergency?”
These phone makers are definitely not stupid! They think about all you worried parents out there.
You can designate certain people whose calls get through the “Do Not Disturb” function.
It’s a game changer in terms of productivity, and something you need if you’re looking to
set aside more time in your day for what you love.
#13 Set Up Systems
We all have those pieces of our jobs that are very repetitive.
Is there any way you can create a system to simplify that process?
For example, when I write programs, the formatting of each program takes some time, but it’s the same for every program I make. I’ve simplified the process by creating a skeleton template. I’ve saved myself at least 5 minutes of time per program, wherein now I just go to the skeleton and add the exercises, sets, reps, and explanations for each client.
The goal with systems is to free up some time on the things you do most often.
Find an organizational task or scheduling function that can be simplified in the future.
#14 Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks
Similar to our inability to say “no,” we also seem to have this problem of creating more work for ourselves.
Make a list of everything you do in a day. I mean everything personal and professional.
Once that list is complete, circle every unnecessary task – the things you could delegate or pass off to someone else. Identify the things a co-worker or assistant could handle at work, give your kids more responsibility, or ask your significant other to share the load.
For some, it requires you to relinquish control and trust those around you. I GET IT – it’s tough! But make the process easier on yourself by walking them through it and communicating how important it is to you that this task gets done correctly.
Similarly, be sure you know the tasks that require you to do them. This will allow you to better say no to those unnecessary tasks that creep back onto your plate.
#15 Lay Out Your Clothes the Night Before
Do you want to know what drains A LOT of your daily decision-making process?
Picking out your clothes for the day.
Keep your decision-making abilities fresh by laying out your clothes the night before.
Make it a part of your nighttime routine, by thinking about what’s to come tomorrow and choosing an outfit with a clear head.
Eliminate the sleepy or frazzled thought process that comes with the mornings, and allow yourself to wake up, put clothes on, and keep your focus on the other things to come in your day.
#16 Get Enough Sleep
Think back to #1 Skip the Snooze. One of the main reasons we feel the need to snooze is because we are not getting enough sleep at night.
That’s primarily because sleep has become something of little priority for us.
Prioritize your sleep just like you do for work tasks, workouts, and family functions.
It’s THAT important.
You are a better and more productive individual when you get adequate sleep.
“I’m just one of those people who functions well on less sleep.”
That’s probably just a story you’ve started telling yourself. The percentage of people who actually are fully functional on less sleep than what is required is VERY small.
So how much should you aim for?
The standard 7 to 8 hours per night still reigns true; however, newer recommendations suggest you can look at sleep like a bank, and as long as you get 49 hours of sleep each week you will not be sleep deprived.
Set a nighttime routine, know what time you NEED to get to bed by, turn off the electronics, and find yourself more productive and energized during your days as a result of adequate sleep.
#17 Schedule Time for What You Love
We’ve talked all about creating more time for yourself.
Creating more time is step #1 to doing more of what you love.
Step #2 is scheduling time for the things you love.
If you don’t ever book time for it, you’ll never do it.
Just like you time block to get things done at work and get the kids from place to place, block time for date nights, time with friends, or activities that you love.
Then stay true to word and commit to it.
These are the things nothing interferes with. The things that if anyone asks you to do something during, you confidently say “no” to.
You’re working hard to create more time in your day, now use it!