Margaret Thatcher once famously said that she liked to keep herself just a little cold and a little hungry so that she’d be more alert and focused when it came to working. Makes sense.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes, the best way to be more productive and efficient is just to … well, do it. Here are some low-tech, no-nonsense ways to cut down on time wasting and procrastination.
- Find your chronotype. Identify your daily four hour block where you’re most productive and awake and do the bulk of your stuff then – doesn’t matter if that’s half a day after everyone else wakes up or late into the night.
- Abandon the idea of hour and half hour chunks. You’d be amazed at how much time you save when you set appointments for exactly 8:40 rather than just “rounding up” to 9:00, or let go of the idea of starting a new task exactly on the hour. There’ll suddenly be so much more time.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances make meetings go on longer than 40 minutes. It provides nothing but diminishing returns after that threshold.
- Make it a rule to not get bogged down by “just do it quick” activities. If you’re constantly hit on by tiny 5-minute tasks, collect them and wipe them all out in one go at the beginning or end of the day.
- Use an app like StayFocused to stop mindlessly browsing away your life on the Internet. Or get another laptop that you have no internet access on at all and just get to work.
- Get everyone on board with your priority ranking system. Have, say, three levels of urgency and ceremonially behead anyone who overuses the “urgent” tag on any communications.
- Likewise, make sure your staff (and you!) are writing tight, concise emails. I’m talking a topic sentence in every paragraph and supporting evidence to follow. Bullet points are just the cherry on the top.
- Identify your daily “big thing” – the one thing that you’ll be unhappy about if you don’t get around to that day. Get it done as early in the day as possible.
- Coffee. The optimal dose? One cup per hour and no more than 4 cups after each other.
- Choose one communication channel and focus all your emails, messages, etc. to that one source. Check your mail at most once or twice a day only, then forget it exists.
- The slightly hungry and slightly cold thing is no joke – make sure there aren’t endless sugary treats lying around and don’t get too comfortable. You’ll be unconsciously giving yourself permission to slack off.
- Plan. Write lists. Rank tasks according to their importance and then go down the hierarchy. I know plenty of CEOs who jot things down with good old pen and paper. No productivity apps needed.
- Even if you’re enjoying the task, take a break after 25 minutes to keep fresh. Stretch and have some water.
- If you’re procrastinating starting something, vow to start and just do 5 minutes. What inevitably happens is that the momentum carries you along anyway and you do more. Just start.
- Turn off junk notifications on your phone and promise yourself you won’t reflexively “check” your devices four million times a day.
What straightforward ways do you have of cutting down on time-wasting and getting things done?
Do you have any more tips that might be helpful? If you liked this article, feel free to share it on social media so someone you know might benefit from it.
What You Can Do
The founder of Combat Mindset, Michael Saad, is a straight-forward and easy to follow Results Coach that helps athletes, fighters and tactical operators get mentally and physically stronger.