5 ways to find more hours in your day

How many times have you heard the phrase "If only there were more hours in the day"?

Have you ever said it yourself?

I have. I'd catch myself thinking that with just one more hour in my day, I'd have more time to relax, or do something I love, or get things done that I don't normally have time for. I'd spend more time pottering about in the kitchen. I'd relax with a magazine on a blanket outside in the sunshine (well, in the shade) while my daughters play in the backyard. I'd catch up with friends more often.

If you feel this way too, it's time to try my 5 easy ways to find more time in your day:

1. Find your Time Eaters and shave a little from them: Sit down with a pen and paper and really look at how you spend your day. Time Eaters are the things you still want or need to do every day, but may not be doing as productively as possible. My Time Eaters are tv, blog reading, blog writing and research, and housework. Find yours, jot them down and think about how long you spend doing these things each day. Here's how mine looks on paper:

Then brainstorm a couple of ways to do each of these things more efficiently. If you can't think of anything, Google it - someone else has probably already come up with a solution for you ;)

For my 'T'V Time Eater' I decided to:
  • Only turn on my favourite shows, not channel surf until I found something worth watching
  • Only watch TV if my To Do list was finished. If there is a show on I'm dying to see but I still have work to do, I have to record it and watch it later.
After doing this exercise  on all of my Time Eaters I found I can save 5 hours a day. To be honest, I freaked out a little when I worked out how much time I was spending on this stuff without realising!

2. Make the most of annoying waiting time: On hold? Use your phone's speaker and put it down while you wait so you free up your hands. Then file your nails. Declutter a drawer / shelf. Wrap Christmas presents. Just do something so your time isn't wasted and you'll be less cranky about being on hold in the first place.

3. Stop Multitasking! Yes, it makes you feel like you are accomplishing a lot, but really when you take a step back, it's like nothing actually gets finished because you haven't focused on it. Pick your absolute most important thing to do and do it. When it's done, then start your next most important thing, and so on.

4. Get rid of extra work as soon as it comes in:
  • In the home: Don't put things down, put things where they belong. 
  • With paperwork: Practice the touch it once or red dot it strategy.
  • Emails: Divert your less important emails into folders as you get them (Funny emails, Subscriptions, etc) and if it's that urgent, do it as soon as you read it. If you don't have time to do it on the spot, you shouldn't be reading your emails!
5. Give your new found free time to something you really need or love or you'll just be wasting it again. It's not counting the hours you save that will make your day seem longer, it's actually using the time for yourself that will. Leave little prompts around so you don't forget to do this  - e.g. if you want to read a book, get the book out and put it right next to the TV remote ;)

So go on, print out this page and stick it on your fridge. Try these ideas out and enjoy how relaxing it is to have more hours available to you. This morning I got to spend some time in the back yard, laying on a picnic blanket, watching my 2 year old digging in the garden. Believe me, taking the time to do these things is worth it.