21 Ways to Save Minutes Each Day

21 Ways to Save Minutes Each Day


I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with time. On my phone I track every minute of the day and how it is being used. I can even show you a spreadsheet with months of data where my time up to the minute. For example, I can tell you that on average I sleep 7 hours and 14 minutes a day and I spend on average 87 minutes a week running errands. You might wonder why I’m doing this. The reason is that I want to be on the fast-track to success. One of the ways to reach my destination faster is by maximizing the time I have at my disposal. In other words, by time saving. Over the months of tracking my time I wanted to figure out ways to shave minutes of certain low value activities so I could refocus that to more important matters. The list of time saving tips below is the one I’ve done myself to free up time, and I have redirected those minutes and hours to work and personal projects.

21 Time Saving Tips That Work

1. Check your smart phone in line – Waiting in line is a waste of time, so use this time to check your email, respond to text messages or participate on social media. 2. Automate your monthly expenses – Stop paying bills through the mail and switch to paying your expenses online. If you are already doing that, the next step is to automate your payments and set a time once a month to review all your monthly payments. 3. Maximize your commute times – Read a book, listen to audiobooks, call people, email or get other work done. 4. Eat your frog – The first thing you do in the morning is the task you dread the most. Brian Tracy coined this term and he got it from the saying: “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!” By doing the dreadful task first, the rest of the day is going to be easy in comparison. 5. Stop watching TV – Cut back on watching television and switch over to on-demand media. TV commercials provide little value and revolving your day around the TV’s schedule is an inefficient use of your time. You can still watch most your favorite shows on Hulu or Netflix, but at your own pace and time. 6. Learn keyboard shortcuts – Using the mouse can be slow for certain tasks which oftentimes can be done faster by keyboard shortcuts. Learn a couple keyboard shortcuts of your frequently used programs, like your browser, word processor and spreadsheet software. 7. Stick to 3 tasks – If you only had time for 3 tasks each day to complete to make your day worthwhile, what would they be? Answering this question forces you to prioritize so you spend time on important things and avoid working on things that have little importance. 8. Call people – Sometimes calling is much faster than sending emails. What can be said in less than a minute usually takes you a couple of minutes drafting an email, proof reading and then sending it. 9. Get a virtual assistant – Personal outsourcing is a great to save time because someone else can do the menial tasks you dread (and cheaper). This leaves you with more time for leisure or to do more high value activities. Examples of tasks you can outsource is online research and data entry. 10. Batch your activities – Putting activities that are similar in nature allows you to process them faster and in one batch. For example, if you need to call or text people, do that in one batch instead of spreading it throughout the day. 11. Use a calendar – I’m often surprised when I still meet people who don’t use a calendar. It is also not surprising these people tend to be late most of the time or even completely forget their commitments. Avoid this by using a calendar. Bonus points if your calendar syncs through the cloud. 12. Tame your email – Email can be a big productivity killer. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read, check it only twice a day at fixed times and set each session to a limit of 25 minutes. 13. Stop playing video games – They are great way to relax and wind down, but video games can also suck up a lot of time. Cut it completely or limit it to one hour every week. 14. Try a different route – We are creatures of habit and we like to stick to the path of least resistance. Once we have commuted to work on a particular route, we stick to that route no matter how bad the traffic is. Have you ever considered planning a new (and more efficient) route to work? 15. Touch it once – Whenever you get something in front of you, decide right away what to do with it. Don’t let it sit around for you to decide another time what to do. Either plan, do it, delegate or delete. 16. Use text expansion software – If you are someone who writes the same phrases and messages each day, you will greatly benefit from using text expansion software. It allows you set abbreviations (or keyboard shortcuts) and the software will fill it up with text. This is great for phone numbers, email signatures, and anything else you often type. Get started with DashExpander (Mac) or PhraseExpress (Windows). 17. Protein shake – If you want to keep your morning routine short, have a protein shake and a snack for breakfast. 18. Two laptop power adapters – If you bring your laptop home and to work, it is worthwhile buying a second power adapter. This will prevent you from forgetting to pack it. Thus save you a lot of time (and headaches). 19. Clean your desk at the end of the day – Before you stop working for the day, clean your desk. This makes it easy for you to get started the next time you start working. 20. Use a password manager – Trying to remember passwords and wasting time on recovering them is a thing of the past. Use a password manager such as 1Password (Mac) or Lastpass, and all you need is to memorize one password for all your logins. 21. Improve your typing speed – Considering you spend a lot of time writing emails and documents, it’s worthwhile learning how to type faster. This will add extra minutes to your day. — Looking forward to your comments. What are the best ways you practise time saving?


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Thanh Pham is a productivity nerd and blogger. When he is not writing about time management, he likes to read personal development books, travel the world and try out a new fine dining restaurant every weekend.

Discussion

  1. Justin Whittaker on the 7th October

    Awesome tips! Thank you.

  2. Matteus Magnusson on the 7th October

    Great tips!

    Just as a thought from another point of view, number 13: stop playing video games, how come you are allowed to watch TV-series more than one hour a week but not play games longer?

    I’d say that you can gain more from certain games than watching TV-series. Games can—depending on the game—challenge your mind. There are huge amount of multiplayer games of which you can play with your friend, i.e. you are socializing at the same time. If your are playing with strangers you can develop your skills in that language (often English) talking and/or writing. I have a friend who play(s) WoW, now he is able to talk British fluently and knows the language better than many on my collage. Another benefit of playing a multiplayer with a group you communicate with (verbally) is team coordination. There are probably a lot more benefits, but I think I’ve made my point.

    You can gain a lot from games, however I must agree with you that if don’t have enough discipline it can easily ruin your work. Thus I would set away a fixed number of hours you could play a week and never go above it. This is how I will implement it in my schedule, however I wouldn’t have came up with the idea if not for your post. Thanks!

  3. Adam on the 7th October

    Good stuff! Can’t get behind the idea of keeping video games limited, though.You may be right, but its my best “tool” for stress relief. I might snap if I limited gaming to an hour a week!

    • Yentl (Design 311) on the 8th October

      They should be limited, because they do suck up a lot of time. But one hour each week, as said in the post, is exaggerated.

      Better would be that you make a deal with yourself and first do certain tasks before you start playing video games.

  4. krs on the 7th October

    While I like tips on how to save time on tasks I already need to do, “saving time” by not doing things I enjoy are pretty useless.
    So say I save 3 hours per week not playing video games, what should I do? Trade it for something I enjoy less?

  5. Susan Hamilton on the 7th October

    These are pretty good tips overall, but I do like talking to people in line and find it irksome when others are reading their smartphones. Seems like we get so busy sometimes we forget we’re living, too.

    20 out of 21 for me, good job!

  6. Ricardo M Rodriguez on the 9th October

    Great Post, I find that getting rid of things that you know waste time is a great thing to do. For example, I used to spend time watching shows on netflix because once I watch a few episodes I get hooked, next thing I know I have watched 40 episodes. So I got rid of netflix. I don’t have the urge to watch anymore.

    Also, limiting the amount of games one owns is a great way to reduce the urge to play video games. I used to keep 10-15 games and found myself switching from one to another once one would get old. Limiting to 2-3 reduces my options and they get old quick so the urge to play isn’t there.

  7. David on the 10th October

    Thanh, or anyone else, I have been interested in tracking my time for some time, and I am wondering what tools you would recommend to make it easy and seamless. I have an android phone and little else that I could use at work since we cannot just download whatever software we want.

  8. Travelturkey on the 11th October

    pretty good tips,i will try

  9. Patrick on the 11th October

    I would love to see the spreadsheet you use.

  10. rick on the 12th October

    I would also love to see a post on how you track your time… I’ve seen rescuetime used, but any other suggestions on tools would be great.

  11. Andrew on the 13th October

    Great list, I’d like to nominate #22, learn to speed read.

    • Ricardo M Rodriguez on the 14th October

      I have tried speed reading but books don’t seem to be as enjoyable then. For papers, school projects, news or blogs it might be a good option. But if you’re trying to enjoy and savor a nice fiction or personal empowerement book, in my opinion speed reading isn’t the best option. Not only you’re flying through it but in the case of a personal empowerement book, you’re missing all the good info and not retaining much. With that type of book I only read 1 chapter a day and try to apply as much as I can because only then they’re empowering.

  12. Sumanth on the 14th October

    watching tv is hell lot of time waste..One should stop watching to save a couple of hours every day.even multitasking helps to save time..That is doing 2 or more tasks at the same time…watching movie and checking mail etc..

  13. Thiet ke noi that on the 17th October

    This artice is great!
    There’ re something that I never pay attention to. I think if watching TV take 1-2 hours at night, it doesn’t a matter.
    I like : “Two laptop power adapters”. That’s great 😀
    Thank you again. So quality artice!

  14. Robert on the 30th October

    Great list of time saving tips, Thanh. I can’t agree more with these tips. I also do save time at work that helps me get more things done and keeps me productive. I also track time and from all of the tools that I’ve tried (I also tried RescueTime) Time Doctor is the only tool that meets all my needs. It tracks exactly where I spend time and how much of that time was productive or unproductive. It also tracks websites and applications that actively being used and how much time I spend on each site and app.

  15. Francis J. Broan on the 16th July

    Hi Thanh, great tips, thank you!
    I’m especially a fan of two power adapters.. cannot count the times I’ve left mine at work when needed to work from home. Also, I’ve made a habit of frog eating, I honestly believe this is the one thing that can make a difference to the entire day. Once the worst job is done, it’s all downhill for the rest of the day.. Love it.

    All the best to all of you, guys.

  16. zezdd on the 29th September

    Nice article, though considering the amount of time that we spend using the computers I’d add: learn touch typing – a lot of people waste ridiculous amount of time not possessing this simple skill that you can easily learn on plenty on websites, eg. here: http://TouchTyping.guru/learn-touch-typing

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