Top 5 Tips for Squeezing Extra Time Out of Your Day!

Do you have things you want to do, but don’t have the time to do them?
Maybe you have the time, but find you waste it sat watching TV?

Last week I wrote about taking small steps, you can read that here: Small Steps into January. The jist is that if we want to reach our goals, then by taking even the smallest steps towards them every day, or at least frequently, then we will end up achieving them. I work this on the basis that I often don’t have the time to do big tasks all at once, or I find it daunting to look at the big picture and it causes me to freeze.

The thing is, if you’re planning to take these small steps as often as possible, when do you find the time?

Well, it obviously depends on just how small your small step is, and exactly what it is. The thing is though, there’s often so many opportunities that pass us by without realising and, by training ourselves to utilise these, we can be far more productive in our days. Not every opportunity presents itself to every person, but hopefully just by thinking about these windows of free time might help you find some of your own. Take it from a very, very lazy person… These help me! Remember though, these are just for utilising time you didn’t know you had spare, more robust tips would be things like ‘planning‘ or ‘being mindful of your goal‘… those tips are for a different, perhaps more helpful, list. But, without further ado, these are my Top 5 Tips for Squeezing Extra Time Out of Your Day!

At the Traffic Lights.

If you drive, how often do you spend at traffic lights and junctions? Now, I’m by no means suggesting you take your eyes off the road and spend time in day-dream land, but… some of my best ideas for my stories have happened whilst driving. If you have a goal which requires some internal cognition (using last weeks example of applying for jobs: perhaps you need to reflect on your CV and think about how to word things), the time you spend stuck at traffic lights can chance from merely waiting to become quite useful (not to mention you’ll form the habitual reminder of ‘Traffic Lights = Think about my goal’)

Commuting.

In a similar vein, if you’re someone who commutes each day then you’ve actually got a lot more time to spare. I drive these days, but in the past I used to get a train/bus to get to work and I found it invaluable for reading and writing. When you’re stuck in a moving vehicle that isn’t under your control, when you’re not with people you know, rather than spending time daydreaming or scrolling through Facebook this is the perfect time to hit some of your goals. You can use this time to type up ideas, to read through old things, or, again, using last weeks example, to apply to jobs online.

Lunch Time.

How many of us just see lunchtime as a quick break from work, a moment to eat food, before getting back to the grind. I know a lot of us will do, but your designated lunch time can actually become quite valuable. If you’re someone who’s goal is more physically based, perhaps you want to get healthy, or do more exercise, then you can use your lunch time very effectively. I’m lucky enough to be allowed to eat at my desk, which means my lunchtime can be spent getting some chores done (like my shopping) or by exercising (a long, purposeful walk in the park).

Going Mobile.

Our phones are incredible, honestly. The things we can do on our phones, the things that there’s ‘an app for’ is incredibly impressive. Nine times out of ten, if you need something, your phone has the ability to do it. The amount of times I jot down an idea whilst walking from my car into work, or I write some of my blog on a lunchtime, or I listen to an audiobook whilst driving to hit my Goodreads challenge. Working from your phone can help you utilise many spare minutes of your day that otherwise just get wasted; hell I once wrote an entire blog post whilst sat in my barbers waiting for my turn in the chair. If you’re not someone who feels comfy using their phone for anything other than a phone, then I urge you to try it out. Like with anything, practice makes perfect, and the more you use it the easier it gets. All being well, you’ll find you can quickly make a few notes, or read up on some ideas, and it will occur to you do to so the sooner the habit is formed.

Before you sit down.

This is my favourite. As a self-confessed procrastinator and lazy person I find that my evening disappears within one blink of me sitting down after work. I get home, I eat dinner, I sit down, and suddenly it’s bed time. Why? Because I waste that time watching Netflix, Playing Video Games, or mindlessly surfing Reddit and YouTube. I’m most productive, however, when I haven’t sat down. If you have something you want to achieve I strongly advise using the few moments you get upon first getting home. It’s all about inertia, it’s harder to start doing something (because you’ve sat down for the evening already), than it is to carry on being productive because you haven’t had chance to stop. Better yet, I sometimes stay in the office after hours to work on personal projects; that way I don’t even ‘get home’ and don’t allow my momentum to slow.

These are only five methods I use myself, there are many others out there that many other people use. I know a lot of people who wake up early to get their tasks done, they find themselves most productive in the early hours…. that isn’t me…. at all… but, it’s all about finding something that is you, something that works for you.

What tactics do you use to be productive even when you’re busy?
Do you currently utilise any of the ones listed here?
Let me know in the comments below!

56 thoughts on “Top 5 Tips for Squeezing Extra Time Out of Your Day!

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  3. Flossie

    As a mama I’d add “waiting in doctor’s offices and school drop-off/pickup lines.” You’re right, there is a lot of little bits of “wasted time” like those you mention that are perfect for knocking off stupid little tasks…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My financee and I car share to work together, however 3 out of the 5 days she finishes later than I do. Those 3 days are also my “pick up/drop off” times, where I try to get something done whilst waiting in a carpark!

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  5. As a paper and pen girl I haven’t embraced my phone to its full capability, but after reading this I’m going to drag myself kicking and screaming into the current century (the kid’s will help me won’t they?!) Great post, Shaun πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I try to squeeze in as much as I can when commuting and in between commercials if I’m watching television. Also I listen to podcasts and seminars while doing household chores.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your last point was a Yes! for me. I do make dinner for the family immediately when I get home and stay on my feet until all that is done. When I do finally sit down it is when all the “duties” are done. Also, you make a great point about commuting time. This is a great moment to listen to podcasts I’m interested in, or an audiobook. I’m definitely not the kind of writer who insists my words be read. I love the idea of having my some-day published works made into audiobooks. So a commute seems like the perfect time to “catch up” on all the stories I wish I could read.
    Great suggestions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finding Audiobooks was a huge boon to my reading last year. I always associated them with my Grandma, who can’t read so well these days so, instead, has thousands of cassettes that she listens to. Instead though, I’ve found a real wealth of different books/narrators/reading styles and it’s been a huge help.

      I think it depends why you enjoy a book, whether it’s for the writing style, for the peace and quiet you get whilst nose deep in one, or simply to revel in a story. For me it’s the latter, and some books that I’ve failed to enjoy on paper have actually been much more accessible through a narrator… imagine missing out on that!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Shaun,
    A great post with wonderful ideas. An early bird writer thats me. When the house is still and snores are gently they hum in my ear words of encouragement. A note book accompanies me everywhers and the memo on my phone. Have a great #SundayBlogShare

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Some great tips there. I especially like the one about writing on a commute. I write everyday on Medium. No word limit. Just writing to work on my writing. That’s it. 21 days and going strong πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t do the ‘up at cock crow’ writing either. Tried several times. I wasn’t born that way. Shaun, the phone is my biggest distraction so when I switch it off, I get stuff done. Great tips here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I should have maybe noted that the phone is both a blessing and a curse… great for writing notes on, awful for being a window into thousands of tiny distractions… Glad I’m not the only one who can’t master early morning writing though!

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  11. These are some great tips thanks!
    I’ve recently started using my phone a lot more, to jot down ideas or snaps photos of something that sparked an idea. I also try to make the most of my time on buses by reading emails or making notes for a later blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. rachaelstray

    Some good ideas here. I drive to work so try to use that time to think and be mindfull. I try to multitask when cooking to save time. So I prepare lunch for tomorrow, fill or empty the dishwasher etc. I utilise the time on my lunch too. I way of course and spend a good chunk reading I find it relaxes and refreshes me and the remainder of the time is spent working on my blog or social media 😊

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha, definitely don’t cause a disaster as that’s counterproductive! If you find that you’ve put your clothes in the oven and your meal in the washing machine… That’s just a waste of that time saved!

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Shaun – I have to confess, my lunch break, if I get time to take it, I usually give a 5-minute look at what happens on my FB page and Group, as well as my Blog, and try to answer any comments. As for commuting, I am the driver to and from work, and all of 10 minute drive, so no time there to do anything, although the thinking part, as you say that’s the best time for me to formulate and think of how and what to do when I get back home in the evening. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel your pain, Esme, I’m the driver too. Often it’s myself and my fiancee in the car and that doesn’t lend itself well to podcasts/audiobooks as she doesn’t want to listen. The few moments I get in the car alone, though, I have to have something playing (whether an audio, or my own inner monologue!) otherwise I get far too bored, haha.

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    1. Well, they do say “if you want a task doing, give it to a busy person” (or something like that, I’ve butchered that quote). It’s true though, I’ve found I’m far more productive when I’m busy. If I only have one or two tasks, I tend to just fail completely!

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  14. Sitting down is my downfall too! Once I’m down it’s hard to get back up! I get caught up in social media or watching videos on youtube! I do use my mobile during my lunch break to either make appointments or go online to do grocery shopping, so that saves me doing it once I get home and sit down!

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  15. These are wonderful ideas. I especially like the suggestion to utilize our phones more. I write 90% of my blog via the WordPress app. I also do SO many other things that help me plan and time manage using my phone! Really, they are modern agenda books!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Aw here!! I’d be sore & tired carrying my laptop round everywhere if I didn’t have my wordpress app on my phone. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
        Yes its the biggesr distraction ever but DARE anyone try to take it away. You go get that app….right now!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. They are so much and more! In fact, they make things so easy it can also be quite the guiltrip when we fail to utilise them (for instance, failing to notice I have a comment to reply to! Haha, thanks for commenting :)!)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Speaking of commuting, get your reading done through audio books! I see it’s been mentioned already, but worth repeating. Such a efficient use of time. That’s how I get through most my books these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely agree with this! I try to always have two books on the go at once; an Audiobook and a Non-Audiobook. The Audio is for whenever I’m driving/shopping/generally out of the house alone. It’s one of the best uses of time.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Good points Shaun, especially using our phones for taking notes, writing drafts and lots of other uses. I also like listening to podcasts or books while out for a walk, it lets me think I’m doing two things at once. Being aware of what suits you best is also good!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Doing two at once is something I thrive at, I feel my time is most wasted when I can’t juggle an activity or two. Getting home only to realise I need to nip out to the shops? That used to annoy me, but now with Audiobooks/Podcasts/Etc I actually relish being able to get into my car once again. It makes journeys a lot more bearable and makes your time doubly useful!

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  18. When I worked I used to write during my lunch break. I’ve also given up blanket-watching TV. I still watch an hour or so a week, but I watch just the things I’ve chosen in advance to watch. I’m not sure about thinking at traffic lights. If you have a great idea, you can’t write it down. When I had a long drive to work, I had a little dictating machine. I could use this for ideas and for writing. This was a long time ago, though, and I have to confess that the technology was rather poor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s one of the main downsides, I’ll admit. But sometimes reflections stick with you. I’ve had a few moments of crafting what I deem to be a ‘perfect sentence’ only to have no method of recording it (due to driving) but often its more vague ideas/themes that reflect on and these stay with me until later. That said, I’ve had to pull over a handful of times so I could record a snippet or note on my phone… Which made getting home take longer but was great for an idea or two!

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  19. Love this. I agree – when I used to do a lot of driving, I would listen to lectures or audiobooks in my car. Some of my blogging ideas would come during my running time. I would add that sometimes during cooking, I can get some dishes done in between too.

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    1. My car (when I’m not car-sharing) is a haven for Lectures/Audiobooks. I could do a long drive simply for the excuse to listen to something.

      As for cooking, I find that to be the perfect time to clean the kitchen; you’re in there anyway, why not do something productive whilst your pots boiling! Haha πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Great points Shaun, I particularly resonate with going mobile. The amount of things we can achieve on our mobiles is endless. I’ve written many entire blog posts on my phone and take lots of notes when I’m out and about. Have a good week ahead.

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