No matter how much we try, it seems we can never reach that point when we declare, "Wow! I have way too much time on my hands! I don't know what to do with myself!!"
Today's pace has practically eradicated the concept of "work-life integration" because work is part of life, and there are no more boundaries. We are always "on."
Here are 5 easy ways to protect your valuable time, from morning until evening.
1: Schedule Doctor's Appointments Wisely.
The best times for doctors' appointments are 8:00 AM (upon opening) and 1:00 PM (immediately after lunch).
Personally I only schedule 8:00 AM appointments. For all recurring appointments (dentist, dermatologist, etc.) I always schedule my next appointment before leaving my current appointment.
I also go to doctors that are close to my home so in the event our family needs a walk-in appointment, I can be there the moment the doors open.
- Friday at 10:00 AM (the very most popular)
- Tuesdays (busiest doctor day - more chance of waiting, and being rushed through your appointment)
- Weekdays at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM are the most popular slots for all days
- Thursdays have the longest wait-times
2: Avoid Rush Hour as Much as Possible.
This statistic may make you need to see a doctor: Americans spent 8 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2015.
Here's the complete ranking of time wasted per commuter:
- Los Angeles -- 81 hours/year
- Washington, D.C. -- 75 hours
- San Francisco -- 75 hours
- Houston -- 74 hours
- New York -- 73 Hours
- Seattle, Wash. -- 66 hours
- Boston -- 64 hours
- Chicago -- 60 hours
- Atlanta -- 59 hours
- Honolulu -- 49 hours
Here are my strategies for avoiding traffic:
- Schedule out-of-office meetings back-to-back, in close proximity.
- Regardless of the time of the meeting, plan your commute during off-peak travel. If I have a 10:00 AM meeting in Washington, DC, I plan to get into the city by 8:00 and I park myself at a Starbucks near my meeting location and work for two hours.
- Determine if you can accomplish the same objectives on a skype call or phone call. I convert most of my in-person meeting requests to skype calls.
3: Change 60-Minute Phone Calls to 30 Minutes.
60-minute phone calls are proven to be a waste of time. With tight agendas that participants approve prior to the meeting, 30-minute calls are long enough to achieve desired results.
When attendees know you have only 30 minutes, they skip the small talk and jump right into business. People are also more inclined to speak up because they want to maximize the opportunity to be heard.
Rather than trying to solve every problem in a call, the compressed time frame forces participants to bring the most urgent issues to the forefront so they are addressed.
30-minute meetings also compel participants to come prepared. Meeting facilitators can create detailed agendas and calls-to-action prior to the meeting so everyone is on the same page when the meeting starts.
Some of my clients have implemented strict policies about attendance. If people come in late, they are not allowed to participate/join because it's disruptive, and it's disrespectful to those who are on time.
Personally, my CEO client strategy calls are 30-minutes, and focus on high accountability. They serve as check-ins for work that they are required to complete in between sessions. My clients appreciate knowing exactly what is expected of them, and also appreciate not having to block out an hour for our time together.
4: Say NO.
NO is a complete sentence. If you are a successful leader, people and organizations will consistently reach out to you for help.
The more often you say YES to the agendas of others, the more you are compromising your ability to fulfill your own objectives.
Often we say YES because we don't know how to say NO. How can we decline gracefully without offending others? We do so in a way that aligns with our own personality and communications style.
Coming from a place of empathy and gratitude is always important. Personally, I weigh the probability of what I call "Yes Success." I never want to bite off more than I can chew or over-promise, so I carefully evaluate what else is on my plate before saying YES.
5: Stay Offline.
The average consumer spends 50 minutes of their day on social media. 350 minutes a week - almost 6 hours of an activity that is proven to be linked to depression, anxiety, and narcissistic behavior.
That is time you could be working, volunteering, spending time with your family, or recharging. Even if you cut your online time in half, you will gain an additional 3 hours a week.
These 5 strategies have one thing in common: Intention. When we are thoughtful and mindful regarding how we spend our time, we are much more likely to be aware of its great value. We will never be able to reclaim our wasted time. In today's world, every moment adds up.