Once you get all that eating, sleeping, and Candy Crush Saga out of the way, there never seems to be enough time left in the day to do the productive tasks that actually propel you forward, professionally, socially, or in the gym.
But don’t fret: By adjusting your routine, cultivating productive habits, and taking advantage of technology, you can get those precious minutes (hours, even!) back and accomplish more in a day than you ever thought possible.
Be a Super Commuter
Being unprepared for construction, traffic jams, or other events on the road can be a real drag on your time.
Instead, download a smartphone app called Waze and let it guide you along the fastest route between home and office. With thousands of users constantly updating traffic events in real time, Waze can reroute you dynamically to save time each day.
Get the Message, Move On
A 2005 study found that your IQ drops by 10 points when you try to complete tasks while checking your e-mail. For guys who keep their inboxes open all day, this can be a time sink.
Instead, check your email twice (at most) in any given hour, then close the application completely. You’ll be more focused on other tasks — and save yourself time in the long run.
f you read most of your emails on your smartphone (like, every time you pick up your phone, for anything), get an app called Mailbox, which allows you to process large numbers of emails quickly and get back to “Inbox: Zero” in one satisfying swoop.
With intuitive swiping and tapping gestures for archiving, deleting, and saving messages (and setting reminders), Mailbox lets you fly through hundreds of emails in mere minutes.
Put the Grocery Store in the Bag
You know those days when you end up backtracking up and down grocery store aisles trying to find all the items you missed on your first pass?
Enter Pushpins, your new personal assistant app. Once you’ve entered your shopping list and store info (name, location), the app organizes your items by the sections they’re located in, so you can grab everything on the first run and get out of there fast.
Pitching show ideas, getting meetings — those are great uses of my time. Mowing the lawn, cleaning the house? Not so much. So do what I do and, whenever possible, outsource things that need to be done regularly and don’t need a lot of personal attention.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Start small, and outsource something right now with an app like TaskRabbit, which instantly connects you with people in your area willing to clean your house, deliver packages, or even do home repair at an affordable rate.
Divide and Conquer
Rather than making a list of all the daunting top-level things you want to accomplish, break each item down into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks you can knock out more easily when you find yourself with an unexpected few minutes. You’ll feel like you’re making progress right away.
If you need help, the Wunderlist task-management app for smartphone or desktop was created for just this purpose. It syncs across all your devices, so adding tasks from anywhere is fast and easy.
A recent University of Utah study found that multitasking over-burdens people, lowers performance on individual tasks, and actually decreases productivity. And the more you do it, the worse it gets: Frequent multitaskers have “greater switching costs”—i.e., a harder time switching between tasks, the study found.
By “singletasking” instead, you’ll be more effective even when you have to move between completely different kinds of work, and get everything done faster.