The new year is in full swing, and I am all about getting more done in 2020. Today I wanted to shed some light on how to save time and get more done this year. If you want to be more productive in 2020, keep reading for some great ideas that will help you own your to-do lists and get stuff done.
Batch your tasks
Batching like tasks is the perfect way to save time. Task switching is tedious, and it makes it hard to focus. Going from one job to another requires a lot from your brain, and it causes a disturbance in your productivity. For example, writing a blog post requires a different skillset than editing one does. So, if you can, batch write a few posts, then edit them later. Stick with writing as long as you can. Batching does require some skill on your part. Most of us aren't used to batching like tasks, but I would consider batching some of your tasks this year.
Being in the moment is fun sometimes, but planning helps you save time. If you know what you want to get before you go to the grocery store, you save time at the store. If you know what you're doing at school tomorrow, you know how to prepare. Planning keeps us in the know and allows us to schedule other things like funds, clothes, ideas, etc. so we aren't caught off-guard. Batching tasks becomes easier when you plan ahead. For example, if you plan your content calendar ahead of time, you would know what content you need to write, so batching would be easier.
Outsource small tasks you hate
When I talk about outsourcing, most people my age scoff at this. I think the word outsourcing has a bad reputation because anyone can outsource tasks, even if it doesn't feel like it. For example, ordering Postmates or Instacart is a form of outsourcing. You are telling someone I don't want to get dinner for today or groceries for the week. You don't need to invest thousands of dollars or have a live-in maid to outsource. The gig work economy has made it easier than ever to outsource small tasks you don't want to do. You can have someone else set up your desk or do your laundry. With a little research, the possibilities are endless. Take a look at the tasks you do every day. What could you outsource today that would make your life more convenient and save time?
Use the Pomodoro technique
I am obsessed with the Pomodoro technique. I've been using this technique to be more productive for years now, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The Pomodoro technique is based on one thing: small bursts of intense focus followed by regular breaks. Instead of trying to work for hours at a time, the Pomodoro technique knows that most humans can't focus that long. You work in blocks of 25-45 minutes, taking short 5-10 minute breaks after every focus session. After the fourth focus session, you take a 15-25 minute break. You get so much done during your focus sessions because you don't procrastinate or multitask. You focus on one thing at a time.
Get into food prep
Making delicious and nutritious lunches throughout the week can be challenging. Whether you work from home or go to the office every day, no one has time to spend 30 minutes making lunch every day. Being able to pop a fresh meal in the microwave is so much better. There are tons of meal prep ideas on Pinterest. You could spend an hour or two on Sunday prepping all your meals, put them in meal prep boxes, and have a fresh lunch to take to work every day.
If you don't want to cook meals, you could at least prep ingredients. Take a look at the vegetables you need to chop or the spices you need to measure. Keep these ingredients in sealed boxes during the week and use them as you make dishes. Prepping ingredients is a fantastic way to save time during the week.
Alternatively, you could save more time by getting into a service like Freshly. Freshly is a healthy meal delivery service that brings terrific meals to your door every week (you can always skip the week.) I've talked about Freshly on the blog a ton. I usually get a box every month or so to get out of my food rut.
Create templates for everything
Templates help us by creating a standard for how we do things. We can create templates for social media graphics, email responses, or morning routines. Look at your life. What could benefit from a template or a standardized way of doing things? Develop those templates and keep them somewhere where they are easy to access. Reference those templates when you come across those tasks or issues again.
Stop opening emails if you can't respond right away
One of the easiest things you can do to save time is to stop opening emails if you can't respond right away. You will save so much time and energy if you open emails when you can dedicate time to answering the emails you receive. I know many of us are used to waking up and checking emails, but you might want to wait until you can sit down and respond instead. Set up a few blocks of time throughout the day to tackle emails and forget about them for the rest of the day. We all know the mental energy that thinking about email responses and trying to remember to respond can use.
Do the task that takes five minutes or less
If you are sitting on a bunch of tasks that need five minutes of your time, do the tasks. We often put a hold on tasks that would take us no time to complete. Your mental energy is best served thinking about things that take a long time to complete. Instead, start your day tackling those small tasks and getting them done.
Develop a routine
Routines help us much in the way that templates do. Once you have done a routine over and over, it becomes second nature. Instead of worrying about getting it done, you can breeze through it. Develop habits for your morning and night so that you can start and finish your day with ease.
Set clothes out the night before
Thinking about what you are going to wear can take a toll on you. Instead of worrying about that, set your clothes out the night before so you can wake up ready to tackle the world. It only takes five minutes to plan your outfit at night. A task like this could take way too long during the morning, where you might be all over the place.
Audit your time to see where it goes
One of the best ways to save and find time is to audit your time. You might find out that you've been spending too much time on social media or that you watch Netflix for too many hours. Audit your time for about a week, look into your screen time if you have an iPhone, and be mindful of what you are doing each day. After a while, you'll be able to see where your time is going so you can correct it. If you don't track your time, it will be challenging to know where you can improve.
Don't drain yourself on productivity
One of the most important things I can tell you is this: don't exhaust yourself on productivity. Have you ever had one of those days where everything seemed to be in sync? You get all the work done, and you are the most badass person ever? Those days are amazing, but they can also be incredibly draining. Instead of striving for one badass day, you want all of your days to be as productive as possible. Your goal is to have a productive day every day, not one mega-productive day a week. So, chill out and make sure you aren't getting burnt out on productivity.
Have a space for everything
Nothing kills productivity faster than lost keys. Instead of losing your keys or other vital documents, create a space for them in your home. Creating space can be as simple as a basket at the front door. Make sure everything has an area so you can find it when you need it.
Put bills on autopay when you can
Putting your bills on autopay definitely has a rich connotation. But if you think about it, we have so many bills on autopay already. For example, our Netflix and Disney+ subscriptions already come out of our bank account each month. We know when those bills are coming, and we prepare for them. What's the difference between Netflix and your light bill? There is a price difference, but there is no other significant difference. If you can, put more of your bills on autopay. Autopay saves time, energy, and it could even save you money through autopay discounts.
Use a site blocker
Sometimes we need something a bit more drastic to stop us from wasting time. Facebook and Instagram may be calling your name, but that doesn't mean you have to answer. Using a site blocker like Freedom can help you eliminate distractions so you can focus on what matters to you right now.
Take regular breaks
Earlier I discussed the Pomodoro technique, but I know that it's not for everyone. No matter what tactics you use to stay productive, taking regular breaks can help. So, make sure you are factoring break times into your day. I love breaks because they give me time to reassess how I am doing. Was I as productive as I could have been during my last work session? Breaks help me course correct, so my entire day isn't a waste of time.
Set hours for work and play
It doesn't matter if you work from home or not; we all need to turn our work brains off eventually. Setting professional boundaries is essential. You can't be at anyone's beck and call all day. Instead, set a limit that you will quit working at a certain hour. When you do that, it gives you more reasons to be productive when you can work.
Use music that makes you productive
If you've been on the blog for a while, you know I love music. I could listen to music 24/7, but I have to be careful about the music I listen to when I get work done. For the last year or so, I've listened to Brain.FM while getting work done. Brain.FM creates amazing lyrics-free music that helps you get in work mode. I love Brain.FM because they have a ton of stations for productivity. If you want to get more done in 2020, I encourage you to check out Brain.FM so you can get music that will work as a backdrop to getting work done instead of being a distraction. I am particularly fond of their Grooves and Cinematic Music focus stations. If you want to use Brain.FM too, use my link for a free month.
Do regular brain dumps
We gather so much in our heads, and this can cause significant brain fog and focus issues. Instead of keeping everything in your head where you will likely forget stuff and get distracted, use a brain dump. I use The Daily Productivity And Brain Dump Book by my friend Sarah Steckler when I want to get what's in my brain out of my head and on to paper. Brain dumps are a stellar exercise, and we should be doing them at least once a week. Your brain is not meant to hold stuff forever, so you should strive to empty it. Brain dumps are especially useful for creative minds.
Last, but not least, stop multitasking. Some people say they are good multitaskers, but most of us aren't. Many of us would benefit from being able to focus on one task at a time. If you usually multitask, try a few weeks of working on one thing at a time. You'll probably be surprised at how productive you can be.
Bonus: Just Start
We waste so much time wavering on whether or not to start a project. One of the best ways to get more done and save time is to start the project and forget the fear. Starting isn't easy, but it's the only way to get finished. Remember, progress is better than perfection.
Productivity and saving time is so important. I hope that these tips gave you something to think about in 2020. What advice will you use in 2020 to save time and be more productive?