7 Simple Ways You Could Reclaim an Hour a Day

''If only I had more time I would be in such good shape.'' 
''There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.'' 
''Who has time to prepare a healthy home cooked meal?'' 

Any of these comments sound familiar?  Have you said or felt these sentiments?  Probably so.
 
It seems our world keeps spinning faster and faster and our to-do lists keep getting longer and longer.  No matter how good we are at time management, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done.  At some time or another, we could all really use a 25th hour!
 
Sadly, it just can’t be done.  No matter how hard we try, there are only 24 hours in a day.  But what we can do is find what our time drainers are and figure out how to eliminate them, thus reclaiming a lost hour of our day.  The good news is, with some thought and planning, it can be done.
 
Over this past year, I’ve put myself and some clients to the challenge of reclaiming 60 minutes of time that would normally slip away each day.  We decided to track our activities for a week and learn where we were wasting time and how to avoid doing so, and then take that found time (which, by the way, typically added up to more than an hour) and spend it on ''me'' time.
 
How everyone spent that extra hour was as much fun as discovering how to claim it. Exercising, experimenting with new healthy recipes, sleeping, curling up in bed with a great book, walking after dinner and even visiting a spa were amongst the healthful choices.  The important thing was that everyone found a way to use the time to relax, de-stress, and rejuvenate.
 
Here are 7 simple ways to find your 25th hour.
 
When it comes to technology, rules rule! 
By far, one of the greatest time wasters is checking email, engaging in social media and ''playing around'' on the computer.  Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but for way too many, it’s just the opposite.  Instead of using it to our advantage, it’s become our detriment.  In my findings, the average individual checked their email 11 times a day!  The problem with this is that we spend more time responding, deleting, reading, surfing, etc. than getting our more important priorities taken care of.  It may take some practice, but when you create some rules governing your use of the computer, emails, and text messages, you’ll be shocked at how much time you will free up.  Here are some suggestions:
  • Shut the alert signal off on your computer that tells you when a new email has come through.  Even better, adjust your preferences so that new mail is only delivered once an hour.
     
  • Determine a maximum amount of times to check emails each day.  For me, it’s four: Once at 8 a.m., right before I break for lunch, again at 5 p.m., and lastly before shutting the computer off at 9 p.m. Now don’t get me wrong; I love checking emails while in line at the grocery store or waiting in the dentist office.  It’s great to clear out the garbage, or send off a quick response.  But when I’m in my office or at home with the family, rules rule!
     
  • When you do check emails, handle them immediately.  Respond, delete, or file it away for later.
     
  • If you love to play computer games, Google the news, or find the latest online shopping sites, that’s fine.  Create a designated time to so, and set an alarm to let you know when time is up. 
     
  • Shut down your computer and all other technology at least one hour before bedtime.  You will fall asleep more easily, and will sleep more soundly, too!  Even better, declare one technology-free day every weekend.  Could you imagine how much more free time you would have that day? 
 
Stop multi-tasking.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, multi-tasking is a time-waster rather than a time-saver.  We may think we are gaining time by handling more than one task at once, but it’s just an illusion.  Since we aren’t fully focused on any one thing when we multi-task, each individual task takes longer to finish.  This lack of focus leads to more errors, which then, of course, take more time to correct. You will be shocked at how much faster you complete a job when you turn off all distractions, and stay laser focused on what you are doing.
 
Please note I’m not suggesting there is never a place for multi-tasking; however, it should not be done with the things that are really important.  Go ahead, watch TV while folding laundry, or talk on the phone while chopping veggies (just make sure to use a hands-free headset).  If you’re working on an important project for business, writing an email or scheduling an appointment, don’t also be checking text messages, or trying to have a meaningful conversation with your child.  For sure, one task or the other will suffer. 
 
Delegate, delegate, and then delegate some more
It’s shocking how many things we burden ourselves with that we could be delegating to others.  We all want to be able to ''do it all," but sometimes, it's just not efficient!  To begin with, start asking for help-- your family members or co-workers can’t possibly know you need assistance if you don’t ask. 
 
Couples and roommates alike quickly tend to fall into routines around who is responsible for what tasks.  That doesn’t mean things can’t be renegotiated, especially in special cases, such as when a stay-at-home mom decides to return to the workforce.  Handling all household responsibilities may be fine when home all day, but not so when at an office from 9 to 5. 
 
When it comes to household chores, even young kids can help out.  You will save tons of time if you have other family members set and clear the table, take out garbage, and put dirty clothes into the laundry. If your adolescent drives, tell them that they must earn the privilege of using the family car by helping you with errands such as banking, dry cleaning or dropping younger siblings at after school programs. This is a win-win situation, as it gives you more time and also teaches your child about respect and responsibility.
 
Bunch your chores together. 
In the course of a week, we all have a myriad of chores that must get done.  Just as we think we’ve crossed the last one off the list, another appears.  The best approach is to take care of the chore as soon as you have a free moment.  The problem with that approach is that you’ll be back and forth, in and out of the car, and rushing to squeeze it in between your next commitment.  The movement to and fro adds up to an enormous waste of time.  At the beginning of each week, create a list of all those things you need and want to accomplish that require leaving your home or office to get them done.  Then, assign a block of time to do them all together, planning your route in a way that make sense based on where everything is located.
 
Don’t make grocery shopping a daily event. 
One of the greatest time wasters is multiple visits to the supermarket.  There are many folks who give absolutely no thought in advance as to what they’ll be preparing (or picking up) for dinner.  Almost every night they need to run out for groceries or to pick up convenience food for dinner.  These are the very same folks who insist they have no time for meal planning or cooking, and then bemoan how difficult it is to have healthy meals for dinner.  Don’t you be one of them!  You’re working way too hard on your wellness goals to let this time management problem derail your efforts. 
 
Give this a try:  Take 20 minutes at the beginning of the week to create a meal plan; this can also double as a fun time to peruse new recipes!  Then, create a grocery list so that you’ll be able to buy everything you’ll need for the week in one visit to the supermarket. Leave your meal plan posted on the fridge and check it in the morning so you won’t forget to defrost items you may need that are in the freezer.
 
By shopping from a list, you'll save money, conserve gas by avoiding multiple trips, and save time that you can use to prepare healthy meals.  And let’s not ignore the reduced stress levels you'll experience when you no longer have to ask that panicked 5 p.m. question: ''What am I going to make for dinner tonight?''
 
Clean, chop and cook once; enjoy twice. 
When you do take the time to cook, pretend you are preparing for a party.  Once you are already set up with the utensils and equipment you need, why not make enough for multiple meals?  Although it might take a bit longer in the kitchen, it will save you enormous amounts of time throughout the week.  Cut up veggies and store them in produce containers for a few nights' worth of salad.  As far as main dishes go, casseroles, soups and chili all freeze beautifully. Cook enough to put half in the freezer for future dinners, or portion it out into individual freezer containers to bring lunch to the office.  By using this approach, you'll only have one major clean-up and will save yourself lots of time throughout the week.
 
Take advantage of delivery services. There are so many time-saving services out there that many people don't even know about! For example, my local dry cleaner's has free pick-up and delivery for ongoing customers.  I've also found other little ways to save time by switching to online banking, getting my dog food delivered, and shopping online. And when I have a particularly busy week, my local supermarket offers a service where I can place my order online (it even shows me the weekly specials),  and the driver brings the bundles right into my kitchen, for a small fee.  Talk about a time-saver for a minimal investment! 
 
 
I have no doubt if you try a few of the suggestions above, you will find your 25th hour.  Do you have your own unique time-saving ideas that weren't mentioned? Please post them in the comments to share with the rest of us!
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Member Comments

EVIE4NOW
Thank you. Report
HOTPINKCAMARO49
Great ideas! I will use a couple of ideas this next week. Report
I learned several things here today! Report
quite surprising Report
Thank you Report
I have a problem delegating the chores around the house. I need to just let go of that control. Might actually do everyone some good to chip in & help out. Very good suggestions — thank you! Report
There are really useful suggestions here. Report
thanks for sharing Report
Do whart feels right to you, don't follow someone else's rules just to "gain" an hour. If you're unhappy, time doesn't matter. Report
Best decision I’ve made along these lines is turning off most notifications. Most people really don’t need to respond immediately most of the time. Report
And with tech things - dont forget to interface with your macines )Computers, tablets, phones and more) as persons them selves. When we know if it can calculate that it can think and it often painly states "Intel inside" we know for sure tech is not only a thing made of of atoms which are different kinds of evergy that can be though of as life, tech stuff often actualy does think and relate so dont just use yoyr computers and other thing, realte with them and keep them clean and in good condition. This takes less time than you think and that time spent is time well used, that little response yoy say of think when your log on says "Welcome" or you let your Computer have some free, play and recreational time, sometimes I let my Computer play music when I dont realy want to listen to music and such interfacing interactions dont hae limits but do be good natuured, some say computers are not part of nature but we having evloved through nature and made them they are very much part of nature. What you have in case you didnt know it with your Calculating devices are friends you have not been giving much attention to yet, so get past yet and start doing so, not a whole enslavement amount hust start by respecting them as persons and do whats natur from there. Use some of your reclaimed hour in getting to know your friends and be a friend to them without going wrong and dont make it so they go wrong either and preventing that from happening is within friendships, patiently yours. Report
Good suggestions. Thanks. Report
I like the idea of not multi tasking. I could get more done, faster Report
GREYTDOLPHIN
For many years I was an outside sales rep, with a huge territory. I would always plan my day with calls scheduled in a particular geographic area. It saved so much gas and time. The next day I would go in a different area and always left enough time at the end of the day for follow-up calls. Having a cell phone toward the end of my career helped a lot in re-scheduling calls and overall planning. Thanks for the tips. Report
Definitely have to delegate more responsibilities! Report


 

About The Author

Ellen G. Goldman
Ellen G. Goldman
Ellen G. Goldman founded EllenG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management and work-life balance. As a national board-certified health and wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a B.S. and Masters in physical education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA and Wellcoaches Corporation. She is also the author of "Mastering the Inner Game of Weight Loss." and You can visit her at www.ellengcoaching.com and pick up a copy of the "Busy Person's Guide to Healthy Eating on the Go."