Hey there! So, the other day I was talking with a friend and she said, “I have a morning routine that no matter what I do, it always takes me 2 hours to complete it. Do you have any tips to save time for how to save time in your day?”
The funny thing about our conversation, was that my husband and I were just talking about this very topic the night before. After having two people close to me ask me the same thing—what are some tips to save time that you use—within a matter of 24 hours, I thought I’d put together for you some actionable yet practical time saving things that I’ve been doing. It’s what I’ve been learning and these tips to save time will help you with the every day tasks in your day.
Like you, not too long ago, I really wanted to learn how to do more in less time. So, I started reading.
The first book on my list was a book called The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. And to be honest, I could go on and on about the mind blowing tips to save time that I learned when I read this book.
But…one of the biggest aha moments for me was realizing that all too often the reason behind when I feel like a failure, is that I often am starting with the wrong thing. Like I either try to do something too big when I really need to start with the smallest of things to make the big changes happen. Or I try to figure out how to do something when I really need to understand why I do it.
Honestly, the more I read, the more I began to understand that my biggest problem with becoming more productive came down to one simple thing: how I structure my day. So I had to change that first. If you want to know what 5 Must Have’s I have in my daily routine, grab my free Daily Routine Checklist.
With having started the process of establishing my daily routine, then I got to thinking a little more about the how to save time part. What tips to save time have I learned about, and how could I use all of these together to help me to complete work in less time?
You see I was doing some time saving techniques here and there, but once I started putting my routine in place then I could see more clearly what creative ways to save time would really work for me.
And like my husband and my friend have noticed, these 7 tips to save time do really work and will work for you too. Who knows, maybe you’ll get asked about what you’re doing like others are asking me?!
7 Tips to Save Time in Your Day
In my own search to save time in my day, I started with some basic questions. And I’ve found that these questions are very similar to what a lot of people have been asking about how to be more productive in a day. So, I’ll start with those questions to help sort of categorize things—I’ll also number the 7 tips to save time, individually.
So let’s get started!
How do you find extra time in your day?
1. Do things in less time by making it a race.
Yes, I know this first tip to save time seems simple, but you really can do it. For instance, you can shave time off how long you take to do stuff by turning your 10 minute shower into under 4 minutes by racing or counting against the length of a song.
Yes, you can do this. It’s actually something I get comments about all the time from my friends. They always want to know how I do it.
So, how do you turn your 10 minute shower into a 4 minute one?
The famous marathon swimmer, Dyana Nyad used this strategy in her world record open water swim from Cuba to Florida. She had a playlist of 85 songs to not just “pass the time swimming, but to count the time”. While she swam, she knew that when she sang to herself Janis Joplin’s song Me & Bobby McGee 1000 times that it got her to 9 hours and 45 minutes of swimming—to the second.
Now you don’t have to be a marathon swimmer to use this same method. It still works for me, helping me to take a quicker shower. My go to song is Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. At first I started out racing the song…then I was able to “count the time” like Dyana Nyad.
After a number of days of practice, now, if I play this song—either out loud or in my head—I’ve got my morning shower down to under 4 minutes.
2. Limit the amount of time that you do something.
One example is to set up 25 minute time blocks with a minimum 5 minute break in between. When I let myself just complete a task without really holding myself accountable to time then I end up taking however long to complete it. But if I challenge myself to complete a task (reasonably) to a time limit, then I’m more likely to complete that task in that allotted time.
Now when I say reasonable, I have to know myself well in setting the time to do something. I can’t expect myself to complete something in a time that I could never ever complete it. But, if I know that I can for instance take a shower in 4 minutes but I just don’t do it all the time, this is something that I can set a timer for so that I train myself to do it in that amount of time. Make sense?
How do I complete work in less time?
3. Prioritize WHEN you do things.
This could mean re-arranging your schedule for doing tasks at the best time—look at the time of day when you are most productive for what things. For me, if I try to do the dishes in the middle of the afternoon it will literally take me an hour to do. However, if I do the same amount of dishes at 10:30 in the morning I can get them done in 15 minutes.
I discovered this when I really started paying attention to when I do things and when it felt like I’ve struggled to finish stuff. Sometimes it’s not about procrastination, but it’s about when you do stuff.
You can read more about this concept of WHEN in 3 Time Management Skills for the Overwhelmed Mom.
4. Look at how you do things in the way that you think about doing them.
I don’t mean the way that you you fold something…but…do you think of laundry as 4 separate tasks or 1 complete task? Do you look at doing the dishes as a part of dinner? If you look at it this way, then dinner isn’t done until the dishes get done. Sometimes it is more efficient for you to string or another term is to habit stack tasks together. Other times it’s better to break the tasks up. The key is to know what helps you to be more efficient.
5. Batch putting things away.
Like when you put the dishes away. Do you have a method for putting away your dishes? What if instead of just mindlessly doing it, you grab a handful of items that all go in the same spot.
Here’s how that works: first, grab all the forks at once then put them away. Next grab all the spoons, then put them away. When you do this, you’re sorting as you grab them. I know this seems simple, but it really does help you to put things away quicker.
6. Look at the order in which you do things.
There’s two ways that I’m thinking of this specifically—and I’m sure there’s more ways.
1. Clean from top to bottom.
2. Do things from bottom to top.
What does this mean?
Well, for top to bottom, think about when you take a shower, clean yourself in order of top to bottom. Or when you wash your car from top to bottom. By doing this, you are washing things in a way that the dirt goes down.
With the reverse, from bottom to top, let’s go back to the dishwasher. I put things away first starting with the bottom rack, then I move to the middle rack, then I move to the top rack.
Why? Because the dishwasher doesn’t always dry everything.
There’s still some water on some items and often it’s in the top racks. So if I leave these until last then I’m not dropping water on the mostly dry dishes below and making more work for myself in needing to dry those dishes again. Make sense?
If you think about the order that you do things and pay attention to all the surrounding factors…you will do things faster and eliminate unnecessary work.
How do you save time from doing?
7. Be ruthless with creating and following a daily routine.
To wrap up my 7 tips to save time, it’s important that I highlight your daily routine. And, when I say daily routine, I’m not talking about the things you accomplish in the day. This is a common misuse of the word routine. Routine = automatic process. It is an intentional set of steps that are done in the same way every single time. There’s 5 things I do every day that are scripted intentionally—so that I don’t have to think about it because they’re becoming fine tuned habits.
By the way, have you grabbed my daily routine checklist, yet?
Everybody has routines, but often we fall into the trap of just letting things happen. If you add these five routines to your day, you’ll complete the things you have to do in less time because you’ve created routines that you do automatically.
Think about it this way, have you ever been driving then all of the sudden caught yourself further along in your drive and you think;
“I don’t remember driving here.”
Well, that is actually an example of how your habit of driving to that spot actually happened automatically. Your habit took over and you actually didn’t use much thinking energy to do it. The same is true for things that you do all the time.
If you create habits then you start to do those things automatically. In turn you stress less, use less brain power which saves that energy for other things, and you also take less time to do it because you are doing it automatically without thinking. You are literally saving time from doing when you follow a consistent routine.
Here are the 5 things your daily routine must have to be more productive.
I know that these tips to save time may seem simple, but they do really work. I feel more productive every day and others have noticed it too.
Last fall I went on a retreat with a group of mom friends. We were gone for four days and three nights. Because I was on someone else’s schedule, the timing of my daily routine was slightly different. But because my daily routine doesn’t follow set times and it’s about creating routine habits, I was still “on schedule” for doing things.
My daily routine made things automatic for me.
What was really interesting to me was how many of the moms commented on how quickly I take my shower and how I manage to get up so early in the morning. Even though our schedule for the retreat essentially was “out of my hands”, my daily routine still happened. In fact, even though I was away from normal life, it didn’t seem all that different to me being away.
To wrap things up, I hope that these tips to save time in your day are something you can start doing right away.
Was there something new that I talked about that you’ve never heard of or that you would like to try?