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10 Time-Saving Hacks for Busy Professionals

Busy professional

In today's world, time is of the essence. We have become busier and busier, trying to squeeze more things into less time and living a faster paced lives than those who lived before us. It can be stressful, and with all the productivity software, many companies and clients expect you to be a superman capable of fitting 60 hours of work into a 10 hour window. Without the right tools, this becomes a very difficult task. Many professionals don't know about the latest and greatest in tools and tech that can help them manage their time, increase their efficiency, and still manage to have a life outside of work. So why don't we introduce you to some of these wonders so you can have your life back and keep your clients or employer happy with your job performance!

Task Prioritization

While this particular hack isn't necessarily a high tech tool, its a critical foundation. It is not uncommon at all that in a day at the office to get inundated with tasks leaving you feeling overwhelmed. Having a pile of work in front of can easily raise stress levels and make staying motivated hard, so step one is simple, lets break down all the work in to tasks and put a priority on it. Find a system that works for you, rate tasks on a 1-10 scale of importance and urgency, use a color system, or any other system of prioritization that works for you.

Now that you have your work broken up into manageable parts and organized, you can add other tools to help keep that organization. You probably already have tools available too you that you didn't know about. For instance, more than likely you have Microsoft Outlook, but did you know it does more than just send and receive emails and hold contacts? You can create a todo list right there in outlook! Maybe you want something a little more robust? Check out the top 10 Best Task Management Software (2023) from Forbes.

Time Blocking

As much as we all wish there were more hours in the day, or that there were more than one of us to help speed up tasks, unfortunately we have to deal with the realities of time, at least for now. Block out time in your day to get tasks done. If possible mark yourself busy in Outlook, Teams, Slack, or whatever you use for meetings and scheduling, close your office door, put your phone on Do not Disturb, and allow your self an hour or two to simply get work done without distractions.

Pick times that don't frequently have important meetings or when you know people will not need you to be ready at a moments notice. Block these times off so that others know your busy. This will minimize interruptions that can throw off your train of thought, slow you down, and ultimately make your working time less efficient.

Delegation and Outsourcing

Sometimes the reality is you simply have too much on your plate for you to reasonable be able to effectively handle it all. Don't be afraid to get help, whether that means that you pass some tasks down to people you supervise or outsourcing tasks that you don't need to handle yourself so that you can focus on the important work.

Some things you could outsource is handling phone calls, managing your emails and schedule, and many other mundane daily tasks that can take up a lot of time. You could hire a personal or virtual assistant to handle many of these mundane tasks. If you own or are part of a small business you could look into a Managed Service Provider, or MSP, can manage your technology so you can get that off your plate as well as providing you with new tools and software that can help you be more efficient.

Automation Tools

Automation using modern tech

Anyone working in tech will tell you that if you can automate it, you should automate it. By having basic or repetitive tasks automated you can save a huge amount of time, effort, and sanity. Use a service like SendGrid or Mailchimp to make getting those marketing or generalized emails out faster, use Social Media scheduling software to increase your efficiency by batch scheduling and posting to multiple platforms at the click of a button.

You can automate so many tasks these days that you can truly cut hundreds of hours of work out while still getting everything done every year. By doing this you free up time for more important tasks and give yourself back time to spend on the things you love in life. Check out this list of some examples of tools and what they can automate, and keep in mind that this is FAR from all of them!!

Eliminating Time Wasters

Don't feel guilty, we all have them, the difference is what you do about it! It can be very easy to get distracted both at the office or at home. Maybe you get stuck talking to coworkers about weekend plans, or you have a pet that wants your attention while you should be working. Everyone has these, you aren't alone, but you should try to minimize distractions. Don't feel bad to let your coworker know that you have something you have to get done but that you do want to catch up later, maybe offer to meet up afterwork and chat for a bit before going home. Feel free to let people know you have things to do because ultimately it will fall on you if things don't get done on time. Why not take a look at Harvard Business Review's 10 Quick Tips for Avoiding Distractions at Work.

Streamlining Communication

While we have gone over some automation tools already, sometimes you can't automate all your communications. One thing to keep in mind is keep communications short and sweet when possible. Avoid unnecessary fluff and keep emails and instant messages concise and on point. This ensures not only that time efficiency remains high, but avoids possible "lost in translation" situations when too much fluff is added and muddies the water.

Another thing is meetings. We all know them, and likely have a certain disdain for them. Sometimes they are needed to get information and knowledge efficiently communicated in real time, but often times there are more meetings than there need to be. Feel free to speak up and suggest combing meetings that don't need to be separated or eliminate meetings that are just slowing down progress.

Single-Tasking vs Multi-Tasking

Sometimes you don't have a choice but to multi-task, we all get that, but you should try to avoid it as much as possible. While you may be great at it, no matter how good you are, it still decreases your efficiency and effectiveness at all the tasks your doing at the same time. When your mind has to bounce between two or more tasks its harder to stay on target with each task as your train of thought has to readjust with each jump.

Find a way to schedule your tasks throughout your day so you can put your whole focus on each in turn. By staying on target with one task at a time you can be more effective and productive on that task and increase your overall efficiency. While multi-tasking may seem like a good idea, you may be surprised how much more you get done, and how much higher quality your work is when you focus on a single task at a time.

Efficient Email Management

There are many ways to manage your email more efficiently and ensure that the important emails are easily accessible and immediately visible while organizing other emails into nice little boxes so that you can find what you need when you need it. As a good example, these Outlook tips will help you organize, automate, and manage your emails so that you can save time and increase efficiency.

While you may have to alter these tips a bit for different software, they give you an idea of how you can utilize the tools in your software to manage your emails. While it may seem easier to simple have the "inbox" open, its inefficient to have all your emails sorted only by time received. Utilizing mail rules can help organize and sort your email so you can have what you need, where you need it, without scrolling through your whole inbox trying to find that one email you need to reference.

Outsourcing Personal Tasks

With more and more people working from home, personal tasks are becoming harder and harder to sperate from your work day. When you work from home it can be easy to remember the dishes or laundry needs to be done, or that the trash needs to be taken out, but this is only distracting your from work, and probably stressing you out. Luckily in todays "gig economy" there are more services than ever, that are more affordable than ever, to assist with these tasks!

You can have your groceries delivered to your door, find someone to clean your home, or even have someone walk your dogs, and often times do it all from your phone or computer. Lifehacker has a great write up on not only what you should outsource but where to look. There are a lot of people who make their living by handling these tasks for you, and they do so by being cheaper and more efficient than the big corporations that have traditionally handled these types of services.

A clock representing time management

Continuous Improvement and Time Audit

While all these tips will help you be more efficient right away, they are definitely not a "one and done" task. Pick a reasonable amount of time for you to try out a setup and then take a step back and look at it again. What is working and what is not? Is there a way you could improve an are even more? Time management isn't a one stop shop but an ongoing process of improvement.

Being a busy professional, by continually improving how you work, you can increase your reputation while giving yourself the time you need away from work to recharge. By occasionally retooling your strategy you can continually improve your productivity, efficiency, and time management with each iteration and only improving the outcome of utilizing the hacks each time.

All in all these tips will help you not only improve your productivity and efficiency today, but give you the tools and knowledge you need for continual improvement. You'll find that each time you step back and adjust your strategy you'll only become more productive and efficient. So lets review the 10 hacks you can use to continually improve your productivity:

Remember, by improving your productivity and efficiency at work you are not just improving your work life, but your personal life. The less time you need to get your job done, the more time you have to do what you want to do. The whole you reason you are a busy professional is to be able to afford the life you want. Why wait until retirement while you work insane hours when you can be more efficient and live your life today.

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