Some people consider unlimited data plans, weekend Netflix binges or responsibly-sourced bling to be a precious commodity. For me, it is time. As Charles Darwin once said, “a man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” I was reminded about that recently while visiting the campus of Cambridge University in the U.K. and spying the intriguing, somewhat creepy Corpus Clock.
Donated to Corpus Christi College by alum Dr. John C Taylor, the clock face is pure gold and atop it sits a metallic, grasshopper-like creature called a “chronophage” – i.e., a time-eater, which sounds like the latest villain in an Avengers movie. The message behind the device is that time passes and we all die. Upbeat stuff, right? But when the tour guide told us the story, I felt a positive jolt of awakening, a reminder to get things done now that mattered the most. So, as I look at finishing a book project that is currently 50% complete while working a full-time job, making time for family and friends and ensuring self-care is a daily priority, I started brainstorming ideas for claiming more time. Here are six ways to add more time to your day:
- Plan Ahead. Each Sunday, I plan the work week ahead, think about what I’ll need from the grocery store and tackle household chores to ensure my productivity remains strong. I pick out my workout clothes and office attire the night before. Most nights before leaving work, I make a priority list of what to tackle first the next morning. These proactive steps let me jump right in and make the most of the day ahead.
- Make Wellness a Priority. Healthy habits like exercise and eating better help improve your mental clarity, reduce stress and jumpstart your effectiveness. Embracing wellness as your daily norm helps you thrive and make the most of every minute. When you are operating on all cylinders, the need for time-wasting activities (sorry, adorable cat and baby goat videos) dissipates as you savor that clarity and general sense of well-being.
- Start saying no. As brilliantly covered in this article by author and habits expert James Clear, the ultimate productivity hack is saying no. After spending most of my life trying to please others, I realized a year ago that my book project, which focuses on helping people get unstuck and unleash their inner rock star, was my top personal priority – and I needed to put a bubble around it to ensure that other, less-important opportunities don’t take time away from it. That has meant turning down opportunities to serve as a Board member for an amazing non-profit, decline a nomination for a prestigious leadership program and scaling back on my social calendar. And while hard to do at first, saying no now feels like I’m saying yes to myself.
- Avoid decision fatigue. Worrying about a lot of little decisions depletes your will power, causing decision fatigue. Eliminating unimportant daily decisions helps you waste less time. It’s the reason why Apple CEO Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck, jeans and white sneakers while Martha Stewart has a green juice drink for breakfast every morning. They saved their mental energy and time for more important tasks, increasing productivity.
- Become an early riser. I wasn’t a natural morning person, but chose to become one back in 1992 while building an exercise habit before work. There are less distractions first thing in the morning – from people, technology or whatever else might take you off your path. Plus, research reported in this Harvard Business Review article shows that people who rise early have been proven to be more productive.
- Slow Down. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Especially when we are wired to our smart devices 24/7. But slowing down to focus intently on the task at hand means you’ll do it well right off the bat, instead of having to revisit it with additional time later.
How do you claim additional time for what matters most?