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12 Ways to Find More Time

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The return of daylight savings time often brings with it a flurry of complaints about losing something web workers treasure most: time. Here are twelve ways to claw some if it back:

  1. Control your phone time. Web workers tend to haveĀ  an”open door” phone policy. For example, when a relative calls, my husband takes the call only to fall into the trap of the person going on and on. I suggested he find a nice way to end the call. Some fear sounding rude in cutting a call short, but you can do it politely. Pick a couple of friendly phrases to use to end a call when it has served its purpose. Try: “I hate to cut this short, but I need to prepare for a meeting. It was great catching up with you.”
  2. Use the Internet with purpose. I’m guilty of surfing aimlessly on the Internet or not making the most of social media time. With practice and mindfulness, I’ve cut this wasteful time — not completely, but good enough. Accept that it’s OK to skip social media when you’re too busy, and read Celine’s methods to end compulsive Internet fiddling.
  3. Manage your after-hours time. Stay in control of your schedule by being proactive with your after-hours time. There are some ideas in “How to Stop Clients from Invading Your After-Hours Time.”
  4. Change direction when procrastinating or distracted. We all have moments when we can’t complete tasks because we just can’t get into it. The reason could be tiredness, distractions or something else. Rather than dwell on the task, go do something else. Here are tips for fending off procrastination.
  5. Review your meetings. Have you been attending the same weekly meetings for months or even years? Are these meetings really needed? Regularly scheduled meetings can lose value. Ask for an agenda when people request your attendance. This gently reminds them to create an agenda, if they don’t have one. If they still don’t provide one, explain that you need to prepare yourself for the meeting and an agenda helps. Check out Imran’s tips on running effective meetings.
  6. Hold conversations at a better time. Having a conversations that’s going in a circle with no new information? That’s the time to put the brakes on the conversation and follow up later.
  7. Save time in your calendar. If you need to work on a project uninterrupted, put it in your calendar. This way you can easily say, “I’ve already got something scheduled at that time.” It makes it easier to say no. If you need to spend time with the family, add that, too.
  8. Outsource or delegate. Can you delegate some of your work? Outsource personal chores and errands? Amber provides delegation tips.
  9. End commitments. I used to join Twitter chats three nights a week on a regular basis, but stopped when my eyes ached. I also switched from being a regular player in time-consuming tennis matches away from home to substituting. Maybe it’s time to step down from a nonprofit board position, or to ditch some bad clients.
  10. Be mindful about television time. Like surfing the Internet, it’s easy to waste away time flipping through channels during work breaks and after-hours. For years, I’ve recorded select TV programs and watched them at a convenient time such as while folding laundry, exercising and on a lunch break. Also, when a show bores me for too many episodes, I quit watching it.
  11. Carry a book with you. I always have a book in my car or bag to prepare for unexpected idle time. Having a book with me at all times ensures I don’t waste free time by grabbing some reading time.
  12. Manage in-person interruptions. This might not be so much or a problem for some web workers. However, those working in coworking centers, and those working from offices in family homes, might find their time invaded by people desiring a friendly chat. Have some phrases ready to rescue you from unexpected visitors. Try: “I hate to cut our visit short, but I am about to enter an online webinar. Thanks for stopping by.” Home office workers’ interruptions might include significant others, children and others living in their home. Check out my tips for meeting deadlines while keeping your kids happy.

How can you find more time in your day for things that matter?

Photo by stock.xchng user Kristian Stokholm

27 Responses to “12 Ways to Find More Time”

  1. Some of this is good, but you need to just go with things you can’t micromanage your time or you’ll just go crazy. If you really want to stop and talk to a coworker, just do it even if you “don’t have time.”

  2. Love your piece. The problem is implementing it :) I don’t want that to sound terrible, but as I was reading your article, I realized that I was aimlessly searching the internet and not working with a purpose. I am glad however I found the article. I just began a complete outsourcing model, and found that I am trying to spend more of my time training and working on, rather than in my business.

    Well great list, let me stop procrastinating and get back to work…

  3. Great list you’ve got! I can say I’m guilty of violating some items on your list. I guess the biggest pet peeve I have is working for social media, and the temptation to do Facebook all day is really great. I will have to learn the word: Discipline.

    • Naturally, we assume we’ll get work done on our projects as part of the work day. Scheduling time for some things motivates us to get it done while telling others “Not available.” Good to know that’s working for you, Elli.

  4. The tip about not dwelling on a task has been incredibly useful for me. I find that whenever I go back, I have new ideas and don’t waste time being stuck.

    I’m glad someone else besides me brings a book everywhere with them! I’ve been doing that since I learned how to read and it’s amazing how much reading time I gain that way. Listening to podcasts in the car works too. Similar idea, same concept.

    I’m the person people outsource tasks to, but most clients seem to find that once the initial trial period is over it definitely saves them time and energy that can be better used doing tasks that pay them or spent with family, friends, etc.

  5. Hi Meryl, great piece, and one thing I try to always remind myself is the classic quote by Brian Tracy – I’m paraphrasing, but goes something like “Is what I’m doing right now the most important thing I should be working on?”

    I noticed that some days, weeks even, I’d work real hard, was busy all the time, yet in the big picture we had little to show for it. So now I try to start by critically looking at what I’m doing at that moment – if it’s not that important after all, I can defer it, or better yet, not do it at all!

    Getting rid of low value activity tasks has really helped free my time up for the important “needle moving” activities.

  6. I also bring a book with me everywhere; I read a lot, so it’s always a welcome activity, especially when it’s not a long period of time. I do this in the house and out running errands.
    My TV is mostly with my daughter with planned programming. I’d rather read or journal than sit watching TV all night. Plus time with hubby is important. :)
    Great post, Meryl.
    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

  7. What I need to reduce is the amount of time I spend reading all of the blogs and tweets I subscribe to, because I’m well over an hour per day now. I need a social filter of some sort to only show me the stories which are important as rated by other readers who may have more time engaging with the content.

    Anyone else in this predicament?

  8. Some great tips! I think the most important thing is managing after hours. Life brings tons of responsibilities to friends, family, and work. Those after hours are the hardest ones to manage.