productivity

3 Tips to Making Efficient Use of Your Time

“I don’t have enough time.”  “I’m too busy.”  “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

On average, I hear at least one of these expressions twice a day.  And quite frankly, I’m a bit tired of it.  So I decided to make it my personal mission to rid the world of these phrases.

Okay, not really.  That’s probably too ambitious of a goal.  But I would like to help people realize that they do in fact have enough time to, lets say, go to the gym, start a new project, read a book, spend more time with their family, or whatever else they may be skipping out on.

You see, I’m one of the many people that is incredibly pressed for time.  I’m a Software Engineer working full-time at my present company and I recently began working on a new venture part-time.  I also make it a point to go to the gym at least 4 times/week, spend time with my family, and read for pleasure.  So, needless to say, time is not easy to come by.  And I’ll often get asked “Anil, how the heck do you manage to do all these things?!”.  Well, it’s really quite simple:

I make efficient use of my time!

I know, that sounds like a very obvious and somewhat anti-climatic answer.  But let me break down exactly what I mean into three simple items:

1) No more sleeping in!

And yes, this includes weekends.  Some people can operate on 6 hours of sleep, and don’t have as much a problem with this one.  Others, like me, need a good 8 hours/night.  So, I follow the old adage: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.  I can’t absolutely guarantee the wealth, but I can assure you that sleeping early and waking up early every day of the week will result in a productivity spike.  Especially on weekends!  You’d be amazed at how much more you can accomplish waking up at 8am every Saturday and Sunday as opposed to waking up at 10am.  Use the extra 2 hours to complete some errands, go for a workout, or whatever else you may have planned for the day.

2) Don’t waste time!

Let me give a specific example for this one:  working out at the gym.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain about not having enough time to work out, and then seeing these same people at the gym take two hours to complete what should’ve been a 45 minute workout.  I won’t go into details with regards to effective ways to work (that’s a topic best left for another article), but in short, most workouts can and should be completed in 45 minutes.  Don’t waste time chatting at the gym.  Don’t spend an hour on the treadmill when 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio could do the trick.  And if weightlifting, don’t take 5 minutes between sets.  The same theory really applies to all aspects of your day.  Evaluate what you’re doing, and if it can be done much more effectively, then do so!

3) Multitask!

My personal favorite, and one I use, well, every minute of my day.  At work, if you’re waiting on something to complete (a long download or upload perhaps), work on something else in the meantime.  In my case, for example, if I’m waiting on some software I’ve written to compile, instead of just sitting around, I’ll answer emails or begin looking into and preparing for my next task.  It may only be 10-15 minutes at a time, but doing this throughout the day ends up saving an incredible amount of time (on average, it increases my productivity by about 2 hours/day).

And that’s about it!  Simple, yet effective.  I follow these three tips and am able to fit everything I need into my daily schedule, and leave room for some down time at the end of the day!

 

If you’ve got any personal daily productivity tips, I’d love to hear them!

 

Anil Merchant is a Founder at Entfusion – a social platform aimed to help connect customers searching for entertainment vendors and vice-versa (http://www.entfusion.com).  He also maintains a personal blog at: http://www.entfusion.com/blog/5.  In his spare time, he enjoys staying active through weight-lifting and boxing.  Find Anil on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Anil_Merchant.

 

 

  • http://nickbgoodall.com/ Nick

    I got nervous as I read that last heading, I normally associate multi-tasking with people who are on their phones while trying to hold a conversation with you and eat a sandwich… It’s hard to fizzle out the distraction in our society, but it’s necessary if we’re to stay productive and do all the things you do in a day!

    The Pomodoro Technique – a friend recently introduced it to me, and it works wonders!

    Have a great day :)

    • http://twitter.com/Anil_Merchant Anil Merchant

      I suppose there is a ‘good multitasking’ and a ‘bad multitasking’. The good is described above and the bad is provided in the example you gave. I believe everyone needs some downtime along with positive human interaction and both of those should be single task processes. :)

  • http://www.passiveproductive.com/ Sam Matla

    I always say, there’s no such thing as time management – it’s how we manage ourselves.
    Sleeping in is pretty redundant and does more harm than good, anything over 8
    hours is probably unnecessary unless you need a catch up. Love your point about
    the gym as well, I see people in there lifting for 2 hours and it amazes me, I
    spend around 45 minutes to an hour.

    I’m not sure if I agree with the multitasking point, I guess it’s fine how you explain
    and use it – but multitasking in general decreases our productivity (by a lot).
    I’m probably talking about a different ‘kind’ of multitasking, that is working
    on 3 different tasks at the same time, flicking between them, etc. So don’t
    worry!

    Great post! Cheers.

    • http://twitter.com/Anil_Merchant Anil Merchant

      I agree; I think the effectiveness of multitasking is really measured on a case by case basis. In the specific example I gave, it proves to be highly efficient. But I can absolutely think of cases where switching between different tasks in parallel will decrease overall productivity. I think in general, when I’m waiting on a particular task to finish and have idle time, I like to fill that idle time with another task as opposed to just sitting there fiddling with my pen (which so many people do!). However if I’m actively working on something, I usually won’t switch between several different tasks.

  • Allan

    hey Anil,

    I think you have a different view on multitasking… I thought doing something while something else downloads in the background is maximizing your time… multitasking is actually counter productive (trying to do multiple tasks at once) and research studies prove it…

    What do you think?

    Hope it helps

    Allan

    http://www.AboutTeaBlog.com

    • http://twitter.com/deepexistence Stephen Guise

      Sleeping in is the worst enemy of all in personal development in my experience.

      I’m agree with Allan though. Multi-tasking is proven to be an ineffective waste of time. I wrote an article about it here that includes a French study showing how and why multi-tasking reduces productivity. We can kind of handle two tasks at once (one task per frontal lobe, left and right), but when you focus on one task, the lobes work together to complete it.

      But really this is just a case of semantics. I wouldn’t call doing another task while waiting for a download multi-tasking, because once you start the download, no further thinking is required for that task until it finishes. I think of multi-tasking as doing two things or more at once that requires thought.

    • http://twitter.com/Anil_Merchant Anil Merchant

      Hi Allan,

      So, being an Engineer, let me try and put it this way: When you think of a computer with a single processor (which was very common up until just a few years ago), you’re still able to run a virus scanner in the background, browse the web, and perhaps be downloading some file also in the background. Most users would say the computer is multitasking right? But In fact, each of these things may be a separate process and the computer is quickly switching between each task when it has some ‘free time’. To the user, it seems like all these things are being done in parallel and the computer is multitasking. In reality, it is not true multitasking but the computer quickly switching between tasks during its idle time. Hence, maximizing its CPU usage. Likewise, a person can switch between tasks during his/her idle time (albeit a lot slower than a Computer would).

      Hope that makes sense and helps clarify what I mean by multitasking.

  • Alan Fleming

    I just wasted my time reading this article. Nothing new. Too simplistic.

    • Eva Longoria

      I disagree. This article was helpful!

  • Tergali

    Excellent article we need to learn how to use he time
    Wise and avoid stress in that way :D

  • Morgan Decker

    I agree, people who claim that they do not have enough time aren’t budgeting their time effectively. As long as you keep moving from one task to the next and learn how to juggle what you need to, you will never have an issue with finding free time again!

  • lo

    I really would love to become productive. I dont know everything I want in life, but I keep cluttering my mind with junk and waste without even realizing. How can I de-clutter my mind?

  • Lina

    Hey,

    I dislike your list, as you seem forget that people need to relax, and rest. Nothing is to be done in a rush, why? 2 hours at the gym, well great, maybe the person is thinking through issues or relaxing after a hard day at work.. No more sleeping in? I guess I’d be stressed out if I followed this list, I enjoy taking my time, and hence being a relaxed, normal person.

    -Lina

  • Genius

    Plan time tables

  • Eric Lomax

    I’ve got to disagree. We have almost identical environments but go about things differently. I live out of my calendar, never multutask and focus on the important not the urgent.
    Interruptions are the killer of efficiency. Ever cram for an exam in college? Turn down the radio while driving in really bad weather? We all do things better abd faster without interruption.
    I answer email only a few times a day, ignore the fire drills and protect a few hours each day for focussed uninterrupted effort.
    Try it and see if you’re not getting things done in half the time.

    Just my $.02
    Eric

  • Eric Lomax

    Sorry for the typos. Wanted to respond from my phone before getting back to work