I have written before about how to get things done in just 15 minutes. Here is how you can find the 15 minutes.
Have you ever noticed that tasks expand to fill the time allotted for them? If you have all day to do something, it will take you all day. However, if you have only 15 or 20 minutes, you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in that time.
You may be saying, “But I don’t even have 15 minutes!” Sure you do. Here are 15 ways to find that extra 15 minutes you think you don’t have. They won’t all work for you, but if you do even one or two of them you will free up at least an hour or two a week (and possibly much more than that).
1. Check email less frequently. Even though you have the same amount of email whether you check it once a day or 100 times a day, you will spend more time on email the more times you check your in box. Try cutting back to three or four times a day and see what I mean.
2. Spend less time on “addictive” web sites. Most of us have a favorite site where we pop over to get a quick look at something . . . and do not come up for air until an hour or so has passed. Set a timer for five minutes and leave the site when the timer goes off, or do not go there at all.
3. Do not call if you can email. When you need to pass along information or ask a question, send an email instead of calling. Even a quick call takes longer than dashing off an email, and if the call gets off track you could spend a lot of time on the phone.
4. Schedule an appointment with yourself. Plan your 15 minute task first thing in the morning, last thing in the afternoon, right after lunch, or whenever you are most productive. Put it on your calendar and honor the appointment as much as you would an appointment with a client.
5. Delegate routine tasks. One of the best things I ever did for my business was hiring a fulfillment service to ship book orders for me. That freed up hours I was spending on tasks that, as it turned out, could be turned over to someone else with one phone call. Hire a Virtual Assistant to handle repetitive tasks, get an intern, or put one of your kids to work.
6. Eliminate busywork. Are there things you do “just because”? “Just because” you have always done them, or “just because” it seems like the thing to do? Stop it!
7. Have a plan. List your priorities and what you have to do. I make it a point to plan my day the afternoon or evening before. I am not a morning person, and having that plan allows me to jump right in to my day, rather than trying to figure out what I should be doing. It is easy to waste 15 minutes or more wondering which things you should be working on or which tasks should be completed first.
8. That goes double for meetings. I do everything I can to avoid meetings, but when they can not be avoided, I make sure we have an agenda and follow it. You know what I mean—everyone has been in the never-ending meeting from hell at some time.
9. Use downtime. Waiting at the salon or the doctor’s office? Commuting to work or to client appointments? Use that time to complete simple tasks, such as dictating or editing an article draft.
10. Time shift. Instead of watching your favorite television show live, record it and skip through the credits and commercial breaks. You can save 15 minutes in one 60 minute show this way.
11. Stop procrastinating. When there is something you do not want to do, you can find all kinds of creative ways to put it off. Just do it instead of looking for unnecessary activities to fill your time. When you stop putting off the “icky” stuff, you will get more done and have lots of time to write.
12. Get organized. Have you ever spent an hour looking for something that you knew was “here somewhere”? Put things where they belong and reclaim the time you spend looking for stuff in the chaos.
13. Let the phone go to voice mail. Return all of your phone calls during one block of time, or have an assistant retrieve your messages and return your calls.
14. Say no. You are not obligated to do everything you are asked to do. Sometimes you need to say no. Saying no can free up lots of time.
15. Just do it. We make time for what is important and excuses for the rest. If you truly want to do something, you will do it.