How to get an extra 90 minutes out of your day

Whether you're Jacinda Ardern, Michelle Obama or Beyonce, everyone has the same 1,440 minutes in a day. Yet some people manage to achieve so much more than others. How? By making every single one of those 1,440 minutes count.

Never has the the saying 'time is money' been more apt than when you're running your own business. You see, when you make the most of your time, you bring in more money. Easy, right? 

The only flaw in this great plan is that when you're self-employed there never seems to be enough minutes in the day. So, what to do?  Well, in my experience, it's all about squeezing the most out of every second. Here are a few strategies to help you do just that.

1. Take advantage of your most productive times of the day

Are you a morning person? Or does your brain kick into gear after lunch? 

We all have varying degrees of productivity at different times of the day. You need to work out when you perform at your best so you can play to your strengths.

For example, if you're a morning person schedule your most important tasks before lunch. On the other hand, if you feel more energised in the afternoon leave the difficult tasks for later in the day.

By taking advantage of when you're operating at your best you'll utilise your time better and accomplish more every day.

2. Put waiting times to good use

Whether it’s catching the train in the morning or waiting at the doctor’s office, it’s a smart idea to have something to do during those awkward in-between times. This might mean bringing some work papers to read while you wait or using your phone to pay bills and answer emails. 

On the other hand, you could use these 'waiting times' to take a break or do something you enjoy. While some people prefer to use in-between times to tick off simple, mundane tasks they’d otherwise do at the office, others might like to meditate, read a book or listen to a podcast. If that’s what will help you recharge and increase your productivity when you're back at work, then that’s great!

The point is to make the most of every minute.

3. Use the Pomodoro technique

Entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo developed a system called the Pomodoro technique (named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer) to ensure he stayed on track when completing tasks.

The Pomodoro technique uses a timer to break work into 25-minute intervals. If you have a task to accomplish, set a timer for 25 minutes, and don't do anything else but your task until the timer goes off. This means switching your phone to silent or into do not disturb mode. Oh, and ignoring your emails.

If a distracting thought pops into your head, simply write it on a piece of paper so you can come back to it later then refocus your attention on the task in front of you.

Once your 25 minutes are up and the timer goes off, give yourself a five-minute break. Stand, stretch or grab a quick coffee, then reset the timer for another 25 minutes and return to the task in hand.

At the end of four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes before getting back to work. Using this process to complete tasks will help you maximise every minute. You won’t believe how much more you will accomplish every day.

4. Reduce your distractions

Distractions are the biggest productivity killers, and they almost always eat up more time than you realise. 

In the workplace, distractions typically come from other people: employees, meetings, or issues with external parties. By having a system in place to prevent these interruptions, you’ll reclaim valuable minutes.

Francesco Cirillo suggests this quick four-step method to postpone the distraction until you’ve completed your task:

  • inform the distracting party that you’re working on an important task
  • negotiate a suitable time to discuss their issue
  • schedule that follow-up immediately, so the person understands their issue is important to you, but you simply don’t have the time to focus on it right now
  • call back the other party when you’ve finished working on your task and are ready to tackle their issue.

Dealing with distractions this way means you’ll be able to focus more on the task at hand and spend less time on things that aren’t as urgent or important. 

So, think about these simple, yet effective, time-saving hacks. What difference could they make to your business and life each day? Not only will you waste less time, but you’ll also feel less stressed, be able to focus on the work that matters, and open yourself up to more opportunities.

I’d love to hear how you go. Feel free to email me at emma@emmamcqueen.com.au.