8 Ways to Make Time

By Francisco Sáez • July 16, 2012

“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Productivity is not about trying to get more done every day and filling every second of your time with something so you feel busy. Being busy may make you look like a good employee, but that is a false productivity.

Productivity is about using your time as wisely as possible, getting the maximum benefit with the minimum effort. Time is a very valuable asset. Once it has passed, it cannot be recovered or renewed. Therefore, it is not only possible but mandatory to get the best results by doing less. And the smartest way to do this is by eliminating the superfluous.

1. Effectiveness before efficiency

First, you have to be effective, i.e. focus on doing things that bring you closer to your goals. You can optimize your time utilization if you organize and prioritize your projects and actions according to your goals. This helps you spend your time on important things and not get lost in frivolities.

Second, you have to be efficient, i.e. perform each task in the most economical manner possible. But efficiency should be driven by effectiveness. Otherwise you are wasting your time. The fact that you do a task well, does not make it important. As Tim Ferriss says, what you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.

2. Limit the important tasks

According to Pareto’s law, among all your important tasks there is a small set that generates most of the result. What 20% of your tasks will allow you to get 80% of the desired results? Analyze what you do every day and identify what kind of force creates the most benefit. Ignore the rest.

3. Limit your working time

According to Parkinson’s law, we adjust — in an unconscious way — the length of a task to the time we have set to do it. To use this to your advantage, limit your daily working time and schedule your tasks with tight deadlines. Your performance will increase.

4. Automate

Surely much of your work are routines and repetitive tasks. Such tasks often can be automated (for example, doing a daily backup of all your data). Sometimes it is not so easy, you have to be creative and spend some time learning how to automate a particular task, but it is worth the effort.

Try to group and batch similar tasks that cannot be completely automated so that, at least, they can get done together and the setup time for each one is eliminated (e.g. check all your email once a day).

5. Delegate or outsource

There are certain tasks that you should not carry out, because they are not at the core of your business, because you are not the most suitable person, or simply because it is more profitable to pay someone to do it rather than to spend your time. Put a theoretical price to your working hour and outsource any non-critical work that costs you less than your price.

6. Educate

Most of your time is wasted because the others do not value it as much as you do. You must teach them politely to accept that, in certain moments, you can not accept interruptions, calls, meetings, etc… You have to be assertive and difficult to be contacted when appropriate. Do not let the others steal your time.

7. Follow a good information diet

You must learn to avoid and ignore all the irrelevant information, that is, the one that does not help you to achieve your goals. To find out if you should stop following a blog, a newsletter, a podcast, etc. just grab a paper and a pen while you are reading or hearing it. If you do not write down any action to perform, then it is not useful enough.

8. Say no

Learn to say no to anything that does not put you closer to your goals. To reinforce your decisions, make a not-to-do list and keep it in mind.

Related post: 12 Time Thieves

About the author

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Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.

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