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If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “If only there were more hours in the day,” you likely understand the frustration of balancing various projects and commitments on your seemingly too-small plate. However, there are many time hacks you can implement to make the most out of your workday.
To find out what works, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following question:
Q. What is an odd-ball way you’ve managed to find more time in the day, and why did that approach work?
From using voice recorders to taking advantage of “gap time,” here are their suggestions for getting more done.
1. Address Things Once
Being purposeful and decisive with my time has helped me to find more time in a day. Decide what task you’re working on — be it email, voicemails, etc. — and address it and take action at that time. That way, it’s not hanging out there as a to-do or something that still needs to be attended to. Allot time to the task at hand, make a decision, and move on with clear headspace. – Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing
2. Write Things Down As You Complete Them
Instead of writing a list of all the things you need to do, create a list of what you’ve done and add to it methodically throughout the day. The exercise forces you to focus on the priority tasks without creating a feeling of being overwhelmed by a list of all the things that you have not yet done. – Nick Eubanks, From The Future
3. Use a Voice Recorder
I use a voice recorder and dictation software to capture my ideas for new products and services. It’s also a great way to create content for my agency blog. It takes me two hours to write and edit a 1,200-word blog post, while dictating it only takes about 20 minutes. This has been one of the best ways to produce valuable content that’s on brand and in our agency’s voice. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, FemFounder
4. Stop Micromanaging
Letting go of the need to have everything done just how I would want it, or staying in a meeting to remind employees to do simple tasks, or fixing an acceptable title font in a presentation gives me back five to 10 minutes hourly. I should be trusting the people I hire to either do a good job or to do a good job managing. – Zev Herman, Superior Lighting
5. Have Dedicated Times to Address Your Inbox
Your email inbox can suck you in and spit you out hours later. I suggest treating your email inbox like a meeting with a hard start and stop time. I have set up three 30-minute time slots on my daily calendar to review and respond to emails. This has allowed me to stay focused and not get sidetracked from what I had set out to accomplish on any given day. – Duran Inci, Optimum7
6. Give Yourself a Few Minutes of Quiet Time to Set Priorities
This goes against what you would expect for productivity, but take a few minutes of your own quiet time (no distractions, almost like meditation) to decide your top priorities for the day and resolve to focus only on those priorities. The extra time spent quietly reflecting will be paid back in increased focus and productivity. – Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design
7. Use Your ‘Gap Time’ Wisely
You can really squeeze out more time in the day by using your “gap time” wisely. Gap time is the time in between the bigger and more important tasks in your day — commuting to work, standing in line, waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning, etc. Instead of just waiting around during gap time, I use that time to complete smaller tasks like replying to emails. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC
8. Learn to Recognize When You Need a Break
For many people, the most productive time is first thing in the morning when you are fully charged. But, over the course of a few hours, the time becomes less and less valuable. Once you hit the point when progress is slow or your mind starts to wander, take a 30-minute break. Go for a walk without your phone, eat a snack, or go running. You will return recharged and ready to make your time count. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Wake Up at 5 a.m. Twice Per Week
I’m not a morning person. But with two young kids and a desire to be home early every day, my work piles up. The most effective tactic I’ve found is waking up well before them (or my colleagues) a few times per week. Just getting two extra hours of quiet time to process the small stuff that builds up has paid incredible dividends, freeing me to focus on big projects during “normal” hours. – Aaron Schwartz, Passport
10. Batch Prep Your Meals
Batch prepping your meals might seem strange, but it actually does save you a lot of your time in your day. Instead of spending time preparing your breakfast and lunch in the morning, or deciding with co-workers what restaurant to eat at, you’ve already got something ready to go. Prep on a Sunday to save time during the week. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
11. Block Out Times Without Your Devices
Scheduling dedicated time away from your phone or computer always opens up time in your schedule. Without your phone or computer, you are forced to be intentional about how you spend your time, rather than reactive to new emails, notifications, and calls. – Antonio Neves, THINQACTION Inc.
12. Quit Facebook
I quit my personal Facebook account several years ago and have been shocked by how much more time I have during the day. As busy as I am, I somehow made the time to scroll every now and then, which ate up valuable minutes. Now, I don’t have that distraction, and it has been incredibly helpful. Thanks to this one small choice, I have less mental clutter and more time to focus. – Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva
13. Turn Off Phone Notifications
A ding from our cellphone and our hyper-connected selves happily distract us from our task. I ruthlessly cut notifications, dings, and email alerts. Shockingly, I only answer emails and calls during certain hours of the day! Most things do not require your immediate attention. – Codie Sanchez, Codie Ventures LLC
14. Give Yourself 10 Seconds to Make a Decision
I learned a 10-second countdown years ago and it’s strangely helped me be more productive. I used to have daily debates about what to do and when to do it. Now, I give myself 10 seconds to decide what it is and as time expires, I’m off. I pick a task and I tackle it. Then I repeat the action. It allows me to not overthink things and my to-do list doesn’t stand a chance. – Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution
15. Stack Tasks When You Can
Much of what we do each day can be combined or stacked. I get up at 5 a.m. each morning to work out. While I’m working out I usually listen to books or podcasts. I then head into the sauna where I meditate for 15 minutes while focusing on what I’m grateful for and what I’m going to achieve that day. By stacking elements of your day, you can get a lot more done and free up a ton of time! – Kevin Getch, Webfor
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.