How to find an extra hour a day
Finding just one extra hour in the working day could be the secret to getting off the hamster wheel.
Pinpointing daily time wasters could not only make you more productive, but lead to an empowering sense of control and ability to focus.
Transforming from an overburdened worker into an organised leader is all about changing habits,Larry Lucas, director of Frontline Management Institute, says.
“It’s easy to get distracted by all of the little things that come up – let’s face it, there are always things to be done,” he says.
“But if we focus our time on those little things we fail to work on the more important, although perhaps not so urgent things. Success comes from working on the longer term important things as well as dealing with the immediate urgent things.”
Freeing up an extra hour each day can usually be achieved by planning your work at the end of each day for the following day, keeping a tight written schedule, cutting out time wasters and delegating work, Lucas says.
Take a step back from your working day to spot these inefficiencies:
Ever wondered how much time you spend checking your emails? Statistics from software start-up Atlassian and research firm McKinsey say the average business worker receives 300 emails each week and spends more than 2.5 hours a day reading and responding to them.
Alexandra Mills, chief executive of product at ecommerce firm AussieCommerce Group, uses email add-on Sanebox to help her manage the 1000 emails she receives every day.
“Sanebox filters my important emails from my less urgent emails – you train it to prioritise certain emails or senders,” she says.
“I check the emails it categorises as less important once a day, which frees up so much time for me to prioritise the emails that are important. It also helps with the overwhelming feeling of a full inbox.”
Setting up automatic filters for emails is another helpful strategy, Mills says.
Technology was designed to make us worker faster, but it can be a double-edged sword. Social media is a prime example – it can make us feel connected and inspired, but it can also be a major drain on time and efficiency.
A Sensis social media report found the average time spent on Facebook each day was 16 minutes, 17 for Pinterest, 10 minutes for Twitter, nine minutes for Instagram and eight minutes for LinkedIn.
Instead of letting technology distract you, make it work for you, Dianna Somerville, director of Regional Grants, Tenders and Corporate Services, says.
“Time is of the essence, and making technology work for you is like employing a second person to your business – if you get it right!” she says.
Somerville’s favourite tech tool is Hootsuite, a platform that schedules all her media, advertising and blogs across all her social media sites.
To get ahead, Somerville also uses Mail Chimp to manage lists of subscribers and as a platform to send newsletters from, Google Alerts to save time on searching and 365Cups app to avoid coffee queues.
Sweating the small stuff
Getting lost in the detail or multitasking more than your fair share can quickly soak up precious spare time in your calendar.
Entrepreneur and mentor Natalie Pickett says it’s time to start doing less.
“You can be more effective by doing less by defining what is most important to you to achieve that day and just focus on achieving that and doing it well,” she says.
“If it is a big job, break off a chunk and set the goal of achieving a segment of it. Once that’s done take a break before you reset and concentrate on the next thing.”
Lack of sleep
Gone are days of working til you drop dead – sleep is the path to productivity. Media mogul Arianna Huffington says it took a serious fall caused by work burnout to make her slow down. Her bestselling book Thrive encourages people to “sleep their way to the top” – getting more sleep for more success.
Mark Sita, co-Founder of Fizeque, couldn’t agree more.
“I find that getting 6½ to seven hours’ sleep gives me a couple of extra hours,” he says. “Your body and mind adapt to this over a few months and now you have more time.”