Time Management Tips: How to Get an Hour Back

posted by Jennifer McClure on March 7, 2014 6 Comments

This is uncharacteristic for me, but I have to admit that I’m pretty excited to “spring forward” this weekend. It’s been a long winter, friends, and I will take anything remotely connected to the concept of spring right about now! In the past, I have utterly despised Daylight Savings Time because I always feel I cannot afford to lose an hour! But, I’ve recently figured out how to get an hour back. Want in on the secret? Read on! 

Time-saving tips to find an extra hour in your day

During the last month, I’ve added in several things to my schedule, including volunteering for my kids’ team. I love it! But, with an already packed schedule, I’ve had to figure out how to reclaim time from other places in order to pull this off. Now that we are all about to lose an hour, I thought it was the perfect time to share my solutions.

Identify Your Time Traps

We all have them, don’t we? Maybe it’s a game app, social media, or even a favorite hobby, but it’s important to recognize the things we spend more time on than we intend. Maybe we have 15 minutes of down time, and suddenly an hour goes by.

Easy ways to find an extra hour in your day. Who doesn't need that?For me, Facebook is hands-down my biggest time trap! What’s worse, I’ve also recently recognized that I’m spending much more on Facebook than “just” time. I’m also spending energy, much of which is negative! This energy be put towards many more productive things.

Here’s an example: I have a few minutes before dinner is done, so I pull up Facebook on my phone. I see a post from a friend and begin reading the comments her friends are making. I get angry/sad/upset by the remarks and wonder about the quality of my friend’s friends. Then, I start to question what kind of person my friend is in order to have friends who comment like that. Next thing you know, I’m questioning what kind of person *I* am. Ugh.

OK, it doesn’t always go to this extreme, but often enough I have found myself getting on Facebook only to log off feeling worse than when I signed on. And if I have 5 minutes before the casserole is done, surely I can do something that would make me feel better than that! I’ve deleted Facebook off my phone. I don’t intend to delete my account at this time, but I really like walking around without Facebook in my pocket! It’s incredibly liberating!

My estimated time saved: 10 minutes per check-in x 3 times per day = 30 minutes / day (at least!) (wow!)

If you spend more time than you intend to on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Candy Crush, YouTube, Flappy Bird, or others, consider putting limits on your time. Delete your app, delete your account, or use another app or a kitchen timer to impose limits on your screen time.

Batch It Together

Next, let’s talk about texting. What is it about texting that makes me feel like I owe an immediate read and response? There are times when the sound of my text tone actually produces an anxious feeling in my tummy. I feel a sense of urgency to pull out my phone, read and respond. What on earth for? I have to tell you, I truly am not that important! If someone doesn’t get an immediate response from me regarding what time I can drop off their kid on Saturday afternoon, it is not going to be the end of the world.

Now for me, and maybe for you, too, the trouble comes with forgetting to respond if I don’t do so immediately. My solution is texting in batches. At regular intervals that naturally fit my schedule (9 AM, noon, 4 PM, 8 PM), I’m dealing with my text messages. I’ve taken this approach to email for a while, but until now it never occurred to me to handle texts this way? The time saved may be harder to calculate. It will take me about the same amount of time to text in batches, but the beauty is that it will mean fewer interruptions in my day. I have to completely guesstimate the time saved on this one, but I think I’m estimating pretty low.

My estimated time saved: 10 minutes / day

If there are small tasks that interrupt your day, such as making phone calls, handling email or responding to texts, consider batching them together at certain times of the day so that you are not being constantly interrupted.

Get a Plan

Sometimes I feel like simple things end up taking much longer than they should! My number one example of this is meal planning. It’s fairly easy for me to list out meals we can eat for a week, but the hard part is compiling recipes and creating a shopping list for all of it. It’s more time consuming than I think, every single time! When I’m short on time, a meal planning subscription service like e-Meals is perfect. I can simply download the menu, complete with shopping list, and head to the store. The grocery list is even pre-sorted by grocery type and coordinated with weekly sales.

Estimated time saved: 20 minutes / week

Identify a task that always takes longer than you think it should, and make a plan to simplifying it. For you, this could be meal planning, cooking, organizing, cleaning, or even determining an exercise plan. The point is that we save a lot of time by not reinventing the wheel!

Stop Losing Stuff

Americans spend 55 minutes per day looking for lost items like keys. Use the tips in this blog post to get your hour back!Studies have shown that the average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for items they own but can’t find. Some of the most commonly misplaced items include phones, keys, paperwork, glasses, and purses or wallets. I tend to misplace my tablet because I use it all over the house and then leave it behind. I also have a habit of kicking off my shoes and leaving them. By putting my shoes away when I get home and putting my tablet in one of two designated spots, I can save time and sanity. I don’t think this saves me 55 minutes a day, though, because I still spend a whole lot of time helping other people in my family locate their stuff! But, even just a few minutes a day add up.

Estimated time saved: 12 minutes / day

Think about what you spend time looking for on a regular basis and establish a landing zone or designated home for those items. Make it a habit to put them there each time you get home or finish using the items.

So, there you have my tips, which of course are inspired and gleaned from what I’ve learned in our It’s About Time online class! (Be sure to check it out if you could use some help and guidance in getting a better handle on your time.) See if you can get an hour (or more!) back for yourself over the next week by avoiding your time traps, working in batches, using ready-made plans, and not looking for lost stuff.

OK, your turn! What sorts of things tend to steal your time? Do you think you can use any of these tips to reclaim the hour we lose to Daylight Savings Time? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Happy organizing!

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  • March 12, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    This is a great post! I’m constantly checking my email and getting lost in sales and promotions. I’m going to try to check my email at set times instead of every time I walk by my computer, when I’m idle or transitioning. Thanks for the inspiration.

    March 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks so much, Monique! It’s easy to get lost in email land, isn’t it? :) Glad you found the post helpful! :)

    • March 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Hi Jennifer,

      Great post. It needed this message to get me back on track. I’ve lost lost of time this past month.

      My biggest time killer or challenge is my obsession with Instagram. The name alone suggests documenting (through photos) what we look like at that moment (a selfie), where we are, what we’re cooking, eating, and wearing. How long could that take, right? Well, let’s see. Personally, I’ve never posted the first picture I snapped. I always critic the first one and make tweaks to my hair or touch up the lip gloss, change the camera settings, then, take a few more. After about 15 options I might find “the one” but before I upload it I will probably add a filter or crop it. Twenty minutes later I’m ready to upload my instant picture to Instagram. Did I mention I do this a few times a day?

      So, I will take your advice and create a time slot for this obsession (like I would for email responses) and use the hashtag #latergram when I post that flawless photo from now on. That should clear up some time for the real important things that need to get done in my day. Wish me luck!

      April 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Hi, Cindy! I am wondering how it’s been going to schedule time for Instagram. I completely understand how that works. The Instagram takes more than an instant! LOL Hope you’ve been able to take some time back!

      • June 16, 2014 at 8:29 am

        Thanks for this great tips. Now I know how to deal with misplaced keys- a common problem for me. And yes Facebook, the number one killer tme for the vast majority. Hmm will contemplate on “uninstalling it in my tab and smartphone… can I do it? Goodluck to me.

        June 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        Good luck to you Amanda! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Staying away from Facebook is definitely challenging but I bet you’ll find it worth the effort! :)