Everyone has the exact same amount of time in each day, even Beyonce and Oprah. It’s how you optimize each second, minute and hour that really adds up. This doesn’t mean you should leave room (sometimes plenty of room!) for pampering, relaxing, zoning out or indulging in you time. If that’s what’s important to you, necessary to balance stress, or simply something you prioritize, then it should be part of your daily or weekly pie chart. However, most people waste more seconds and minutes than they’d like to and don’t even realize it.
Don’t assume that only Type A personalities manage their time well (some do, but so do plenty of Type Bs). No matter what your personality type, job, family situation or vices, there are some basic fat trimmings you can partake in to maximize your days. Here are a few to get started:
1. Ditch the snooze button habit
Nobody looks back on their morning and thinks about how delectable those extra snoozes were (in fact, you probably don’t really remember them). What you would remember is less rush in the morning, time to actually sit with your coffee, or the ability to watch ten minutes of news. If you have trouble getting up, go to sleep earlier if that’s the problem and move the alarm to the other side of the room.
2. Actively avoid traffic jams…or enjoy them
You know when the worst time to commute is, and your boss might be willing to give you a flex schedule to avoid it. Otherwise, you might be able to take advantage of public transportation (such as electric trains) that avoid congestion altogether. Finally, don’t forget about actually indulging in your commute instead of dreading it. This is where you can listen to an audio book, truly engage with whoever you may telecommute with, or learn a foreign language.
3. Stop multi-tasking
This might sound counterintuitive, but the reality is that less than two percent of people can actually multi-task. Everybody else is just doing a subpar job at just about anything. Give your full attention to whatever you’re doing and if you find there’s not enough time to do so with everything, something needs to go or be shortened. This goes for your gym routine, sit-down meals, department meetings, and date nights.
4. Use less technology
This goes hand in hand with multi-tasking, but technology should be making your life more efficient. If work emails are interrupting your weekly happy hour with friends or you won’t let anyone touch their meals until you Instagram it, you’re opting out of your own life. All those minutes glued to a screen adds up.
5. Practice good sleep hygiene
“Enough sleep” varies person to person and it’s more about quality than quantity. Figure out how many hours you need to wake without an alarm (weekend sleep project) and then commit to no screens, heavy food, or working at least two hours before bed time. Lack of sleep hygiene impacts all parts of your life and is making the quality of your days poorer.
6. Outsource what you can
Every person has an “hourly wage” that they believe they’re “worth” and your activities need to balance that out. Would it make more sense to hire a cleaning service for your condo, have your dry cleaning picked up, or pick up your kids a little earlier from childcare? If your hourly worth (likely your salary) doesn’t mesh with the 30 minutes it takes you to go to the drycleaner, wait in line, drop it off, get back on the road, etc. it might make financial and stress-sense to have it picked up.