Ever feel like you just don’t have enough time in the day? That you’re so busy all of the time? That time passes faster than you can get things done?
It doesn’t have to be that way; you can reclaim some of those lost hours. You just have to be willing to put prioritization and organization to work.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council, “What’s something busy people can do to get back 3-5 hours of their time a week?” for advice. Here are their best tips.
Oftentimes, I am massively distracted by people asking me for things that might not be on the top of my priority list or possibly not on my list at all. I find myself sidetracked by trying to appease too many people at once. Interruptions in your schedule make everything take longer and seriously reduce the time you spend on what’s important. Learn to say “no,” or at the very least, “not now.”
—Jason Applebaum, EGEAR Media
2. Practice your prioritization skills.
To those of us with perfectionist tendencies, an uncompleted task is a mental burden, no matter how unimportant it is. To combat my desire to do all the things, I’m careful about prioritizing only what’s important. If it isn’t important, by definition, it can wait or remain undone. Understanding what’s really important takes experience, but it can save many pointless hours of work.
—Vik Patel, Future Hosting
3. Use productivity software to track your activity.
What gets measured gets managed. The biggest reason most people don’t optimize their time is because they’re not actively measuring where it’s being wasted. Install any of the popular productivity trackers on your computer and your phone, and remove the tasks that are killing your weekly progress.
—Carter Thomas, Bluecloud Solutions
You likely start receiving texts, Slacks and emails as soon as you wake up. It’s natural to want to address those communications right away. But if you start the day off in your inbox, it’s very easy to let your incoming tasks take up your whole day. The best way to reclaim time in your day is to prioritize your goals ahead of time, and complete what matters most to you first.
—Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
5. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
To reclaim a substantial portion of your time, don’t be afraid to delegate. Run through a list of everything that needs to be accomplished, and check off anything that can be outsourced. Freeing yourself from certain tasks will allow you more time for yourself. I love virtual assistants and companies like TaskRabbit for this purpose.
—Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg
It’s so easy to get lost on social media, with videos and conversations, that time seems to melt away. By staying off social media for longer periods of time, I’ve won back numerous lost hours and get more done. I commit a certain time in the evening to look at them when I want to take a break from working.
—John Rampton, Due
7. Work offline for a while.
It helps to work away from the digital world for a while, so you don’t find yourself multitasking across every channel but not getting anything done. When you step away from digital channels and focus on offline work, you can get more done in the long run.
—Zach Binder, Ipseity, Inc.
8. Establish a routine.
I have a routine, a time-block, of when and how I work. Setting aside those hours daily to focus on what needs to be accomplished most allows me to be efficient and, in the end, eliminate needless tasks that may have normally drained my hours during the week.
—Renato Libric, Bouxtie Inc.
9. Look at how much time is actually productive.
Research shows that people can manage four to five hours of deep, concentrated, productive work each day. Beyond that, “work” hours are spent filling time. People who work 60-hour weeks get no more done than those who work 30-hour weeks. You can reclaim time for thinking, relaxing and learning if you stop pretending you’re putting in 12 hours of productive work each day.
—Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.
10. Aggressively remove distractions from your inbox.
I obsessively block unnecessary emails and relentlessly unsubscribe from newsletters. Keeping my inbox strictly for necessary interactions removes distractions and increases my efficiency. We spend hours each week just sorting through emails, so keeping superfluous messages out of the box buys back time that I can apply elsewhere.
—Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
11. Wake up early and meditate.
A 20-minute meditation or mindful deep-breathing session can provide an exceptional springboard for a highly productive day. It will allow you to organize your thoughts, remove latent distractions and provide much needed focus. The long-term benefits of maintaining a practice are documented. Expect to experience enhancements to your attention, cognitive capacity and less overall stress.
—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
12. Go to bed early.
It takes a little practice, but I swapped out a couple low-energy hours in the evening for a few more hours of quiet in the morning. You can’t get more hours than someone else, but you can significantly increase the quality of the time that you have.
—Tim Chaves, ZipBooks
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.