10 ways to get more done with less effort

Unless you can cross off every item on your to-do list every day, this article is for you.

How often have you heard: “There are not enough hours in the day,” “I have no time to work out” or “I don’t have enough time for social media”?

We all have a lot on our plates. The question is: How does one find more time in the day? Here are 10 time-management tips you may be overlooking:

1. Ask smart questions about your email inbox.

Let’s face the facts: We spend a lot of time in our email inboxes.

Do you ask the right questions when it comes to email? Take a look at these:

  • Can this email wait until later?
  • Does this email need my attention right away?
  • Can I direct this person to someone else?
  • Am I ever going to respond to this email?
  • Is this email just an FYI? Do I need to take action, or is it for my reference?

Be aggressive when it comes to your inbox. Will you really need this email six months or a year from now? If not, delete it. You may also want to read the 4 steps to inbox zero.

2. Keep your emails short and sweet.

Don’t send one-word emails, but get to the point fast. As they say in journalism, don’t bury the lead. For example, change the email subject line when an email changes topics.

You may want to read “6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself,” which says you should think about emails the way you do tweets—140 characters or fewer.

3. Take advantage of Web tools.

Like it or not, organizations and users are going to the cloud. Learn how to take advantage of Web tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Pixlr Editor. File-sharing tools also make collaboration easier.

4. Use Web browsers that don’t slow down your system.

Internet Explorer has features that slow your browser experience. Users are switching to Firefox or Google Chrome, which are faster and include useful features, like bookmark syncing. Chrome recently passed Internet Explorer to become the world’s most popular Web browser.

The key is to get the most of your Web browser space with extensions like Hootsuite’s Hootlet and by minimizing bookmark icons. You may want to read “6 ways to maximize your browser real estate.”

5. Lose the clutter in your work or home office.

Clutter can drain and frustrate you, and make it difficult to accomplish things. You should think about how you and your office or home design creates clutter. Working in the right workspace can help you do more with less effort.

6. Discover how you spend your time.

How do you spend your time? You may want to fill out a Wheel of Productivity and give it a hard look. Do you spend enough time on the colors that matter most to you?

Another good way to find out how you spend your time is to fill out your calendar with tasks you accomplished during a specific hour or half hour. Then look over the past month. What did you accomplish? When did you accomplish the most-mornings or evenings? If you don’t know already, it may tell if you are morning or evening person.

7. Get your calendar under control.

Don’t fill up your calendar with standing meetings. These meetings may be good if you aren’t doing anything else, but evaluate whether you need to restructure or cancel certain meetings altogether.

Another way to reduce time is to bundle meetings by location. If you travel back and forth from a certain location, reduce travel time by booking all your meetings in that location in one day. As Stephen Covey said, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Are you investing your time the right way?

8. Run meetings more effectively.

It is common across corporate America for meetings to be boring, a waste of time and late to start.

How can a meeting run more effectively? Have the organizer discuss the meeting’s goals. Make sure he or she gives assignments before the meeting (so people know what to expect) and after (so people know what to do for before the next meeting).

Also, schedule the meeting for no longer than necessary. Most meetings will go the full 30 minutes or hour if that’s how long you schedule them for. As Parkinson’s Law states, “Work will fill the time available for its completion.”

9. Manage your energy, not your time.

The key to managing your energy is to take breaks every 90 minutes. It helps you work better with your body’s natural rhythms. It’s a simple concept: Spend energy wisely, and you will have more of it. The key is to be conscious of the ways you are building rest and renewal into your day. You may want to read “6 ways to use less energy to get more done.”

10. Get a good night’s sleep.

Are you getting enough sleep? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. How much sleep you need depends on you and your age. Adults generally need seven to eight hours, but according to a national health survey, nearly 30 percent of adults report getting less than six. To make sure you get the sleep you need, try to go to bed at the same time every night, and avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol right before bed.

You also need to get good, deep sleep. This iPhone app promises no more sleepless nights.

Managing your time well means taking the time to ensure you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.

What productivity tips would you add?

A version of this article originally appeared on Knowledge Enthusiast.

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