12 Productivity Tips That Give You More Time


One of the most commonly asked questions of me is about my sleep, or more specifically, when I find the time to sleep.

In addition to working full time and participating in a rigorous MBA program full time, I also run three businesses, am starting a nonprofit (and volunteer/sit on the board for six others), play in a touring band, write books, write for five blogs, do consulting work for aspiring musicians, and have hobbies on the side. But I don’t sleep any less than most of the people I know (about 6-8 hours per night if my dogs don’t wake me up).

Last week, someone approached the question differently: rather than focusing on my sleeping habits, they asked about productivity. By being more productive, you can actually gain time that is normally wasted in the day. So here are twelve of my personal tips to being productive:

  1. Don’t Shut Down the Computer at Work: During the week, I don’t shut down my computer. Not only is sleep mode more energy efficient, it saves about 5 minutes in the beginning and 5 minutes at the end of the day for booting up and powering down. That’s an extra 50 minutes per week.

  2. Turn Off Email Notifications on the Phone: I got annoyed with the phone notifications received from getting over 700 emails per day so I turned them off. It also kept me from getting distracted from the task at hand. Now, I block out certain times specifically for correspondence.

  3. Get My News From the Radio and Twitter: I don’t bother with newspaper subscriptions anymore. I get all of my news from NPR/BBC radio and my following news channels on Twitter. Scanning headlines on Twitter saves at least an hour per day.

  4. Keep a Notebook by the Bed: If inspiration strikes, I’m ready. That kind of peace is better than trying to remember an idea all night before falling asleep.

  5. Use Cloud Storage: I back everything up on Google Docs, Evernote, and Dropbox. That way, if I need to access a file, I can get it from any device in any place.

  6. Google Calendar: I schedule nearly everything in my Google calendar (synced to my phone), including reminders to work on specific tasks. It’s great for appointments: not only does it send a reminder, it will alert you of traffic conditions to the location and tell you when to leave in order to arrive on time.

  7. Keep Meetings Short: I try to condense one hour meetings to thirty minutes by staying on track and focusing on the objective. Since I have about 3-5 meetings per day, this actually saves me about 10 hours per week.

  8. Combine Tasks: I don’t get as much time for exercise as I’d like, so I try and combine activities, like taking “walking meetings” or listening to books on tape and podcasts while working out.

  9. Measure and Reflect: Most businesses rely on analytics and metrics to see if something is working or worth the return on investment. I do the same thing with my time: is how I am spending my time advancing me closer to a personal goal?

  10. Keep Coffee to a Minimum: Daily doses of coffee make you immune to the boost, so you might as well save it for when it is most needed.

  11. Don’t Watch TV: I only make exceptions for Game of Thrones and Jeopardy.

  12. Avoid the “Spring Cleaning” Mentality: I try to organize and clean throughout the day (both physical spaces like my desk as well as digital ones like the inbox). That way, I never get stressed about the need for a giant overhaul. If things are in their place, it saves a lot of time when I need to find them later.

Everybody has their own habits. These are some of mine.

What’re some of your best tips for staying productive?

One thought on “12 Productivity Tips That Give You More Time

  1. I would recommend checking out Gtdagenda for an online productivity tool.

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

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