80 Ways to Steal Valuable Minutes for Your Work Day from the American Express OPEN Forum, shares a collection of ideas from the best small business and productivity bloggers and consultants. There are tons of time-saving lists out there, but here are a few ideas I’ve found helpful:
Step away from the desk
I’ve tried the “exercise” tip from Jonathan Fields a few times this week. When I hit a total mental standstill, I got up and moved around – either picking up clutter throughout my workspace or taking a quick walk to the 7-Eleven for an afternoon pick-me-up. When I sat back down to work, my mind was quieter, and the rest of the afternoon was far more productive.
Block time for tasks
I’ve also been trying to block my schedule into “X hrs on Task A” or “X minutes on Task B” – and aiming to complete certain things before and after lunch. I use Office TIme (available for Mac and Windows) to track my hours on a variety of things. I like that the timer is up at the top of my screen, making it easy to see how much time I have left to work. It is really easy to use, and has helped keep me accountable.
Immediately plan your day
When I arrive in the morning, I spend 15-30 minutes reviewing email, my calendar and jotting down my list for the day. I try to create the list in order of importance, and I leave off anything that doesn’t have to be done today. I reference the list all day, instead of wasting time reassessing my to-do list throughout the day.
Turn off email alerts (seriously)
It’s amazing how distracting that little “ping!” and pop-up balloon can be. Again, even if it only distracts you for 30 seconds, think about how many times the alert pops up throughout the day. I read this tip at least 30 times on various sources before I finally did it myself. Trust me, you won’t “forget” to check your email.
I’ve also stayed off Adium my collective instant messaging client (for Mac), for the last week or so, and seen my productivity greatly increase. Again, it wasn’t necessarily that I was spending all day chatting, but I was distracted by people signing on/off and the alerts that popped up.
Use the simplest tool available
Right now, I’m composing this blog entry in TextEdit, adding in the basic HTML tags as I go along. I’ve found that it takes me much, much longer to write and format the post if I do it all in the WordPress interface. [I’ve researched/written all this in about 20 minutes] If the extra bells and whistles are available, I use them. By using the simplest tool available, you can minimize the distractions and focus on the true task at hand.
I hope these tips help you find some extra minutes throughout your day. Please share your own tips in the comments.