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Growth Strategies

8 Effective Ways to Find the Extra Hours You Need in Your Work Week

They say time is money. If you believe this is true, then act now to rescue your stolen hours.
8 Effective Ways to Find the Extra Hours You Need in Your Work Week
Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Images
- Guest Writer
Founder @Alltopstartups
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Time is an asset. You can never lose time and get it back again. Jon Acuff argues that time is our most valuable currency, and I totally agree. Time is an asset you should value every day. It’s your most valuable resource for getting deep and focused work done.

Once this realization hits you, you can make the decision that your approach to life and work will never be the same. You will make the most of every minute you have every day. What you spend your time on is a reflection of your values. What did you achieve yesterday, last week, three months ago, or even last year? Is it a true reflection of who you are and what you expect of yourself?

Many people live extremely busy lives. Too many irrelevant activities compete for their attention. If you are like most people, there is a way out. These listed ideas can help you focus on what truly matters at work so that you can get "real" work done.

Related: Time Is Money, so You Don't Have the Time to Lose

1. Move your wake-up time.

Start your morning on purpose. You can squeeze an extra two hours or more out of your day if set your alarm clock to go off just 30 minutes earlier. If you normally get up at seven o'clock in the morning, try getting up at six-thirty a.m. instead -- and put the extra minutes to good use.

You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in this short and barely noticeable change of 30 minutes added to your day. You could meditate, exercise, read, write or simply get your day off to a calm and organized start. Plan your day if that helps.

Related: The Power of Mornings: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Get up Early

2. Don’t tackle tasks sporadically throughout the day.

To increase your ability to focus, researchers suggest ideas for both boosting our ability to concentrate as well as reducing distraction. You can improve your ability to focus if you can boost your ability to concentrate. Reducing distractions can change how you work for the better.

Everything competing for your attention when you want to single task can waste your precious time. Time wasters such as impulsively checking notifications is a major distraction at work. The few minutes you waste on reactive tendencies doesn't help your work.

3. Single task with purpose.

In an age of constant digital interruptions, it is no wonder you’re having trouble ignoring distractions. If you really have to focus on that task, limit the time you have to spend on any given task. Add dates, and due time to your to-do lists. Push yourself to deliver within a specified time and move on. 

Stop multi-tasking and get used to single-tasking to improve how you work. In The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, Gary Keller wrote, “Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects."

Single-tasking is one task at a time, with zero tolerance for distractions. Try the Pomodoro Technique to improve your chances of success when you embrace single-tasking habit. Focus on one task for about 30 minutes, then take a five minute break. Then move on to another task or continue the task you were working on.

Related: Why Smart People Don't Multitask

4. Become proactive, not reactive.

Don't allow other people’s agenda rule your work week. “Reactive” means, you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You are practically checking things off others’ lists.

“Proactive” on the other hand is associated with control. You are in charge. You plan and take the initiative in your own direction. It’s a way of dealing with things, that you can develop and strengthen. When you are proactive, you react ahead of time, hence saving you time.

Related: 7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively

5. Embrace time-blocking.

You will be surprised at how much time you waste when you don’t schedule time for your tasks. Time-blocking can keep distractions, procrastination and unproductive multitasking at bay. Put your calendar to good use and stick to your schedule to make the most it.

Related: Time Blocking: a Productivity Power Tool

6. Plan your "time blocks" the night before.

It pays to spend a few minutes before the end of the day to plan for the next day. Decide what makes a perfect day before tomorrow. Write out three to five of the most important attainable tasks you need to complete. The best way to prevent yourself from being distracted by technology is to set some rules.

7. Break the cycle of email addiction.

You will be surprised at how much time you can gain if you break your inbox dependence. Email addiction is a time-wasting epidemic in the digital age. You probably receive dozens or hundreds of emails every day. But you don’t have to respond to each one of them as and when they hit your inbox.

Jocelyn K. Glei, the author of Unsubscribe, says that while checking emails throughout the day may make you feel productive, the opposite is true. Schedule time to check and respond to your emails.

Plan to check your email just three times every working day: once in the morning, once in the middle of the day and just when you are about to end your day. You can use the  two-minute rule when you make time for emails; if it takes less than two minutes, respond instead of marking it as “unread.”

Related: Email: 5 Ways to Stop Wasting Time and Start

8. Set a daily max for social media distractions.

Every single minute, more “stuff” is being sent your way. Once you open the door to communications overload, you could spend all day reacting to what’s thrown at you.

With social media, minutes can easily turn into hours. Set some rules about when and how often you check your accounts -- you could even consider turning notifications off on your mobile devices during focused work.

Related: Stop Wasting Time, Especially When it Comes to Social Media

Every time you pull out your phone to scan your social feeds, your brain is building a habit loop that reinforces itself to encourage the continuation of this mind-distracting habit. 

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