If 2014 was frantic for you, maybe you're looking forward to the new year and vowing to have a less hectic 2015.

One obvious way to do that is to prune your to-do list, but what if a thoughtful review of your demanding clients, beloved kids, and soul-nourishing hobbies doesn't exactly yield plenty of to-do list items to hit the chopping block? If you had a magic wand, you'd create more time for yourself, but that's impossible, right?

Ask a physicist and they'll tell you that you're stuck with the 24 hours you've got, but according to a thoughtful Medium post from entrepreneur Eric Wattage there actually are ways to magically add time to your jam-packed days. How? His contention is you need to spend just a little bit of time to make a whole lot more.

Wattage argues that, by investing only a few seconds in setting the stage for your work, you can save yourself hours later on. What exactly do these simple but powerful productivity hacks look like in practice? Wattage gives five examples, including:

Snack Smart

Running out of the door in the morning without eating breakfast might save you a couple of moments, but come mid-afternoon you'll likely lose much more time due to your flagging energy levels. Wattage (probably echoing your mother) reminds readers that the opposite is also true--taking time to snack smart will pay you back many times over in increased productivity and mental functioning. (Eat crap, on the other hand, and science says you'll not only decrease the amount you get done, but also actually add to your stress levels.)

"Ten more seconds of your time could make you 10x more productive with a better breakfast that is more nutritionally sound that will boost your physical performance and mental clarity," he writes, even linking to a Tim Ferriss video showing you how to make tasty and nutritious breakfast in all of three minutes.

Automate Your Online Life

The internet is both hugely useful and a huge waste of time for most of us. Keep getting the benefits of your online life without all those hours poured into checking statuses and performing routine tasks, Wattage suggests. The key to accomplishing this is automation.

"Using tools like Zapier and IFTTT you can break up a lot of the things you already do online and automate them using triggers. Say you usually post every blog post a certain blog publishes, just set an RSS 'zap' or 'trigger' to Buffer and it will push it out all of your social channels. You want the scores of each game on ESPN as they're developing, set up a trigger to text you via SMS when the score is updated for an NFL or NBA game," he writes, concluding that "there are literally hundreds of different things you can automate. Setting up the triggers might take 10-30 seconds, but may save you minutes and hours of checking and updating."

How else can you invest mere seconds to save hours later on?

Published on: Dec 30, 2014
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