You don’t need more time to be more productive wherever you are. You need better systems to manage that time. And if you want to know how to get more things done in less time, there’s a system for that too.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through 7 handy techniques that will help you improve the way you get things done – aka by actually giving yourself less time to, well, get things done.
But before we jump right into that, here’s the reason why giving yourself less time is actually a really solid way for managing your time.
Time has more value when you create less of it
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story of a CEO of a 6-figure business made himself take piano lessons on top of his already-busy schedule between work and life commitments.
The reason he did this was so that he could manage his time better. He’d wanted to spend more time with his daughter, so he committed to piano lessons as a way to make sure he spent free time with his daughter instead of working.
The piano lessons gave him less free time after work, letting him spend more of that free time on what mattered to him: being with his daughter.
And if you remember high school economics, there’s an entire concept for the dynamic between demand and supply.
Essentially, one of the rules go:
If there’s less supply of something – but the demand for it remains unchanged – then the higher you can price it.
This ties in with the concept of scarcity.
People’s perception of a product’s value increases when they think they can’t get more of it. (Why do you think we’re suckers for limited time offers or seat sales or whatever-else-have-yous?)
The same goes for time. We see more value in our time when we have less of it. That makes us make the most of whatever time we have.
Convinced? Let’s take a look at these 7 strategies that give you less time – so that you have more time to rest and goof around.
We see more value in our time when we have less of it.
How to Give Yourself “Less” Time
Create time blocks on your calendar
If you can already eliminate the exhausting process of asking yourself what to do next, you’re saving a lot of time already.
One way to save extra time is to purposely block specific blocks of time for a specific task.
Commit to this as a kind of routine for the entire week, complete with non-negotiables and all the things you want to do.
If you want to create your own structured productive weeks, complete with time blocking, check out this post on using Google Calendar for making a daily routine.
Set realistic deadlines – every single time.
Deadlines are the best way to give yourself less time to finish anything.
Take an example of a college student who has to finish writing a paper. The professor gives them a deadline in two weeks.
If the student follows only the professor’s deadline, then they’ll most likely get the paper done in time for the deadline. But inversely, that’s two weeks of gnawing at that task, having it at the back of your mind until it’s finished.
If that student wanted to save themselves the mental pressure and worry, they could set a deadline for sooner, say, in three days.
Once they set that deadline for three days instead of two weeks, they can get that paper done sooner – exactly in the timeframe they gave themselves.
Use Pomodoros for deep focus work
Pomodoros are short intervals of time you dedicate to doing just one task until you complete a project. Read more about how they can improve your productivity here.
In the grand scheme of things, deadlines, Pomodoros, and time blocks actually can work great together in the long-term.
Once you start tracking how many Pomodoros it takes you to finish a blog post, for example, you can realistically set a deadline that makes sense for you.
Say, I know it takes me 4 Pomodoros (or 2 hours) to write a blog post. In the future, when I’m scheduling that new blog post’s deadline, I know it only takes me a couple hours.
Then I can set a realistic deadline – e.g. “I’ll sit down and do this for 2 hours straight tomorrow morning.”
It beats always switching gears and multitasking. You actually don’t get any work done at all when you multitask (science confirms it), so stick to one task for at least a solid 25 minutes.
Plus, having a timer handy when you’re working can be the ultimate productivity boost. Let that pressure challenge you: how much work for this task can you in 25 minutes?
Get rid of the distractions
In a world full of notifications and ringtones and dings and things, it’s a wonder that we ever get anything done.
Ditch the distractions that are constantly pulling you away from deep focus work.
That means putting that phone on silent, working in a quiet room, closing that (gasp) email tab that always seems to be open just in case someone need something urgently.
Pro-tip: If it were urgent, people would call.
So don’t feel bad about getting rid of those distractions so you can really get those feet wet in work.
Automate your life
If you didn’t have to spend time doing something, don’t do it. This is where either delegation or automation come in.
There are a number of tasks you can automate in your life, such as returning emails to the top of your inbox or finding the best time for meetings...
For an idea of different tasks you can be automating in your life (passion projects and business included), read this post.
Less planning. More doing.
I love a good plan as much as the next person, but there’s a downside to planning.
And that’s always planning.
What I mean is: sometimes you’re stuck in the process of constantly planning planning planning that you forget to actually...get things done.
When you’re planning out projects, tasks, and goals, spend the bare minimum time in the planning process and more time actually taking action on those plans.
Get inspired. Like, really inspired.
Take a good look at your to-do list, especially if it’s a personal project or a business project.
Are you putting in purposeful work? Or is there a lot of “busy work” that’s just keeping you from getting to your actual goal? (Looking at you, people who like to feel productive but actually aren’t.)
If you want to avoid getting stuck in a rut of busy work, get inspired. The best inspiration? Your own goals.
Flesh out exactly what your goal looks like and get super clear about how it feels to finally get it done.
Compile these things in a vision board, get inspired by your own awesome dreams and plans, and let that get you in the mood to get only the best things done – aka the tasks that will bring you closer to your goals and not the tasks that seem like they’re productive but actually aren’t.
Less time, more done
Don’t forget that a good system is all that’s standing in your way between getting more things done in less time. Use the tips you learned in this post and actually implement them in your everyday life.
Ready to see the difference in your productivity? I know you are.