With lives as busy as they are and the current uncertainty placing a lot more pressure on our working time it would be great to gain some extra time in the day. You may think this is overly ambitious but with a few simple changes to your day you can gain a few minutes here and there. Once you start to look at small things you do you will start to see bigger wins. Every week check your diary for the following week – what do you still need to attend, who do you need to meet? Is there anything you don’t need to attend? Could you tag two meetings on the same side of the city to minimise travel time? Can you move any meetings to make your day more efficient? Have a priority list not a ‘to do’ list. Each Friday afternoon decide what your priorities will be for the following week & what actions need to be taken to get you there. Slot your priorities into your diary. Confirm meetings by text or email at least 24 hours before (you can set this up on web text easily). This avoids wasted time preparing for and travelling to cancelled meetings. Curb those at the desk chats – you know when Johnny comes over to tell you about his latest achievement or moan about the football last night. Learn to anticipate these & stop it with a polite but firm ‘I really need to focus on this for a deadline, I’ll catch up with you later’. Instead plan to ‘have coffee’ with key people you want to speak with. This can be one-to-one time with a direct report, a stakeholder in a project you’re taking on, a mentor in the industry or someone who has a different perspective. Learn to say no to tasks you can’t take on as you are overloaded, focusing on your priorities or if you are not the right person for the job. Over the years, by saying yes to everything, we train those around us to expect us to say yes. Start by saying ‘Can I check my diary and come back to you?’ The key is to get back quickly – be honest saying that you won’t be able to complete that this week and don’t want to let them down. Check if there are tasks others can help you with. What can you delegate? Don’t try to do everything yourself, if someone else has the time, resources or expertise then ask yourself why you are doing the task. Put a value on your time & the other things you could achieve given the time. Take a lunch break – ok, skipping lunch this may seem an easy way to gain time in your day but its not. Not taking a break (mentally & physically) will leave you less efficient. Look at your lunch – is there an adequate balance of carbohydrate & protein to get you through the afternoon slump? Take the chance to get out for a walk, even if its only around the block. Interesting articles and trade magazines can be kept with your notepad. Catch up on reading when you are waiting to meet with someone or travelling. Set up rss feeds for your favourite blogs so that you can scan the feed for anything interesting without taking the time to visit each site. Start the day with an energizing herbal tea (or if you must get your favourite caffeine kick)! Choose something with mint, hibiscus and blackberry. Check emails at set times in the day rather than watching for ‘You have a new message’ flags. If you are out of the office put a message on your email stating when you will be checking your email & when you are likely to respond. Put voicemail on your phone saying that you will respond within 24 hours. If you are focused on a task ignore the phone & let it go to voicemail. Get a water bottle and fill it in the morning and after lunch – this ensures you stay hydrated, focused and don’t have to keep walking to the water cooler to top up.