“I didn’t get a chance to do that… I don’t have time.”
How often do we hear that excuse? The people that seem to accomplish more in a day (people like Jeff Bezos, José Andrés, and Beyoncé to name a few) have the same 24 hours as the rest of us. But maybe they’re prioritizing things differently. Maybe they’ve got a few habits that give them a secret stash of time the rest of us have been wasting… could that be possible?
In the interest of saving my readers time, I’m going to keep this article short. Ever since I’ve been serving as CEO of NextUp Solutions, NextUp Solutions’s parent company, my schedule has gotten pretty tight. So, I’ve begun collecting time-saver habits, and I thought I’d share them… here we go:
- Make your default meeting duration 30 minutes instead of an hour. The default for most meetings seems to be 60 minutes regardless of subject, occasion, or venue. But do all meetings really need to be a full hour? You can turn on your hyper-focus when you know you’ve only got 30 minutes to work with, and this might be considerate to other meeting guests who are as busy as you. Even if you cut only 25% of your meetings back to 30 minutes, you’ll gain significant time back in a work week.
- Combine meals, walking, and talking. Steve Jobs was famous for his “walk-and-talks,” and why not? It gets you away from the desk and repurposes any downtime the much-needed coffee break otherwise steals from your day. A one-on-one meeting with an employee or your boss might even gain some perspective by stepping beyond the confines of office walls. Put that Starbucks run to good use!
- Use tools that reinforce Lean principles. Card-oriented productivity tools like Trello and LeanKit can be tailored to meet any lifestyle and habits. If you use them right, your objective should be to reduce W-I-P (work in progress). Some think it’s counterintuitive to work on fewer things, but data proves that it actually increases productivity. Limit your open tasks (started, but not finished) to three items. Don’t start a new task until you close one out. Many productivity losses are the result of avoiding tasks due to procrastination or excuse-making. This results in the starting of a new task before doing the unpleasant, yet necessary, work to close out an existing task. If a task must remain in-process because you’re waiting on someone else, that’s a different status, and you can move that card to a different stack as you wait.
- Ditch your car and use public transport or ride-shares. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish on a laptop on the train, bus, or in a car you’re not driving. In my home area of DC, the average commute is almost an hour. This change alone could return 8 hours a week to a typical commuter – a full extra workday!
- Finally, with all the time you save using the tips above, you need to remember that work is important, but so is your mental health. Did you know that as of 2019 burnout is officially classified as a medical condition? While there are days that require a go-go-go mentality for maximum productivity, sometimes you need to cut your mind and body some slack. And that’s okay. Like most things in life, balance is key.
Got other tips or habits? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! There’s nothing quite like satisfaction of knowing you’ve gotten the absolute most out of your work week.