Saving 10 minutes really adds up. 10 minutes per day tallies up to 60.8 hours over a full year, or about 42 hours (a work week!) in a typical work year.
Here are nine ways you can save at least 10 minutes:
- Keep an open file for “things to ask the boss” and “I finished this.” Keep a few files open, or sheets of paper, or special pages in your notebook – whatever is handiest for you. As you think of things to ask the boss, or take your admin assistant, etc. add them to the file. That saves you time when you actually have the follow-up time. Likewise, keep a running list of work you finished (or your team). Then when you need to submit progress reports or performance reviews, you’ll have a list to work from and won’t forget “that important thing from 5 months ago.”
- Schedule time buffers on your calendar before and after big meetings or presentations, or if you need travel time between locations. This gives you practical working margin and saves you time between meetings to be more effective at collecting yourself, taking care of details, and taking fast notes about action items that you’re likely to forget later.
- Use better search terms to narrow down what you specifically want. Add a few words, put phrase in quotes for an exact match, add in *.pdf if you know it’s a PDF document, etc. It’s faster to add some search term details than it is to do 3 searches and scan the results.
- Add links to infrequently used but important sites to your browser. You go to the most frequent sites so often that the URL is in your cache and will likely autofill when you type the first few letters. But that HR site with the obscure name that you only go to quarterly? And the expense approval form that you only use monthly? Bookmark ‘em so you don’t waste minutes looking for them in the future.
- Use voice commands for certain tasks with your smartphone rather than clicking through apps and menus. It’s much faster for me to activate Siri and say, “Please wake me at 5:30am” than to find the clock app and set a timer. I say “Count down from 40 minutes” to set a nap timer or work interval. You can ask for a map to the nearest [pharmacy, restaurant, gas station]. These voice assistants continue to add features and capabilities over time, so do a web search periodically to learn a few new trick.
- Need to file a weekly report, or end-of-trip update? Start writing it on day 1, add as you go, then wrap it up. This spreads the work out and de-stresses the process. Plus, you won’t be scratching your noggin wondering if you left something out from 3 days ago. Finally, the recipients will be amazed at the clarity and detail you provide.
- Ask people to give you BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) reports. Get the key information right at the start of a written or verbal update! Not only does this save you time, but it trains people to think about speaking in terms of key points, rather than giving you long chronological narratives.
- Pick up new how-to skills in the software you use most often. Which software tools do you use most often? Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint? Google Docs? Schedule 30 minutes once a month to read about new-to-you features and practice using them. Being better with your tools saves you many times 10 minutes in the future.
- Restart your PC in the middle of the day, rather than in the morning. Very often I see people arrive at the office and spend 10-15 minutes just getting their computer started up so they can get working. Shift this restart to mid-day when you’re taking a break anyway from working on the PC. Then you can quickly get to actual work in the morning. Be sure to password protect your computer to prevent unwanted access. Bonus: have critical documents open related to your most important tasks.
I hope this gives you some good ideas that you can put into practice this week. Share your ideas in the comments below!