How to use time to gain time in your day?

Do you ever get the feeling that you have so much to do that it’s all buzzing around in your head and you can’t focus on any of it?

If so, you are not alone. Most of us feel that way at some point. It seems to be a common symptom of modern life. You might have distractions coming at you all day through calls, emails and people around you or a list of things to do that’s a mile long. If you don’t have a plan to manage it all, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of stress and anxiety that seems impossible to break.

“But, I don’t have time to plan. I’ve just got to get it done”, you say.

Dermot Crowley

Dermot Crowley

Productivity expert, Dermott Crowley, hears that a lot. In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, Crowley stressed the importance of daily planning to improve productivity, even when it seems counterproductive.

“I believe that, when you take time out to plan in your workday, it allows you to make better decisions about how you use your time. The problem is, most of us feel too busy to stop and plan. We’ve got so much to do .. that we just get stuck straight into and try and plough through it the hard way. And, we almost need to slow down to speed up with this stuff … Very few people take the time out to plan at a personal level. That creates a disconnect between what you are trying to achieve and what you are spending your time on.”

Take time out to plan

To help you get started, assemble the tools you’ll need. A simple pen and notepad or a whiteboard would be fine. Alternatively, you might like to use a task management app like Trello. Crowley specialises in teaching others how to make effective use of the planning tools within Microsoft Outlook.

Crowley’s planning process has three parts.

  • Each month he spends an hour planning for the month ahead.

  • Each week he takes half an hour on a Friday to review the week and to look at what’s happening over the coming weeks.

  • Each day, he spends 10 minutes reviewing his priorities and commitments.

You might choose a different planning model. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you deliberately spend time making a note of all those things calling out for your attention, prioritise them and set some achievable goals around them. Then, allocate them all adequate time within your planner and review your progress regularly.

Take time out for self-care

What if you have trouble prioritising things or keeping your attention focused on tasks for long enough to complete them?

This is where time spent on self-care can be truly invaluable.

Often, when our minds are in a fluster, it’s a sign that we need to pull back and take care of our physical and mental health. It’s a bit like pulling a racing car into a pitstop regularly. We need to check everything is working smoothly and address anything that needs attention early before it becomes a problem. The few minutes out of the race will help us to gain time overall.

Your daily “pit stops” could take the form of:

  • A daily walk or yoga session

  • Savouring a hot cuppa while reading something you enjoy

  • Singing along to great music in the car

  • Playing with children or pets

  • Pursuing your hobby

  • Anything else that helps to relax your mind and body

These all help by clearing away your mental clutter and keeping your attention in the here and now  —allowing you to recharge for a while. You can then move forward with more energy and clarity and your productivity is bound to improve accordingly.

“When you understand the psychology of success and happiness, it’s clear that in order to be successful in any area of life, you must first tend to a daily routine of mindfulness. You must redirect your energy and attention inward to fuel your energy, mindset, emotions, and physical bodies. You need to slow things down, come back to your center, and become present to what is in this moment—right here, right now.”

(From the article 5 Ways to Slow Down … in Order to Speed Up by Tris Thorp on

3 quick tips to help you save time

  1. Do regular computer maintenance. Those minutes waiting for a slow computer all add up.

  2. Keep all your notes and files in one place and use a simple system to organise them.

  3. Block out times in your day for different activities and use a timer app to help you stick to your planned times.

Recognise that your time has value and you deserve to be able to spend it on the things that matter most, such as your family, friends and goals. Don’t let it get away from you.

Further reading

Boost your workplace productivity levels today with these 2 simple tips

Healthy ways to avoid burnout at work


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Dermot Crowley is the Director and Founder of Adapt Productivity, a Sydney-based training company founded in 2002. Crowley is one of Australia’s foremost thought leaders on productivity. Building on many years’ experience in the productivity training industry, he created Adapt with a vision of helping management and staff in Australia’s leading organisations to manage their time, priorities and emails more effectively using tools like Microsoft Outlook and mobile technology. He is also the author of Smart Work and Smart Teams.

You can learn more of Crowley’s personal story and his productivity pearls of wisdom by listening to his podcast interview on The Mentor List today. Add it to your planner!

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