How to get an extra hour each day
A PRODUCTIVITY guru has revealed a couple of simple tips to help us all squeeze more out of our day.
And the good news is they are so easy anyone can master them.
According to productivity coach Dermot Crowley, the author of the best-selling books Smart Work and Smart Teams, it all comes down to "dialling down the urgency".
"Most organisations thrive on a deadline-urgency culture - they think they're thriving, but they're actually struggling," Mr Crowley said.
"Everything seems to be urgent - and inboxes are driving that urgency as they are instant, and much of our work is driven by email.
"So people are getting very busy, but they're not necessarily doing important work. I reckon most organisations need to look at their culture and dial that urgency down."
Another massive time-waster is unnecessary meetings.
"Public enemy number one is too many emails and meetings - most organisations are way too meeting-heavy with too many people in them and they go for too long," he said.
"The default shouldn't be 'let's have a meeting' - we should think about the best way to get work done, and sometimes that's just a quick conversation, email, or post on an internal social media site.
"Research shows the more people in a meeting, the less effective it will be, especially when it comes to making decisions - you're better off having smaller meetings with relevant people."
But Mr Crowley said simply changing the way we handle work meetings and emails would free up a lot of time which could be used more productively.
"I know for a fact if people implement certain strategies they will get back at least an hour a day in more productive time, or two days per month based on a 10-hour work day," he said.
"Most organisations are screaming for more resources but I say they should leverage the resources they've already got and stop wasting time."
So how do you do it?
One way is to ruthlessly cut your inbox - right down to zero.
"To minimise noise for ourselves, we should look at getting off mailing lists, automatically junking certain emails we don't want to receive any more, and blocking senders we don't want to hear from," Mr Crowley said.
"Clear your inbox down to zero on a regular basis - it feels really good.
"And instead of being distracted every time an email alert comes in, turn off your alerts and instead check in at regular points through the day."
He said the time spent dealing with emails should then be spent effectively.
"When you check your emails, make decisions and work out what you need to do to move it forward," he said.
"Some you'll need to respond to, some you don't need so you can delete or file, and if something requires action that you can't do now, schedule a time in your calendar to deal with it.
"It's very liberating and people who do that get a sense of control, clarity and focus."
Mr Crowley also urged workers to learn how to leverage tools and technology they already had access to.
"Most corporations are using Outlook or Gmail and Outlook is the most powerful planning and time management tool I've ever come across, but most people only use 20 per cent of its capability," he said.
"Learn how to use tools like that to manage time - use the calendar in Outlook, and learn how to make a task list to manage your priorities so you can centralise all your work with one tool."
Mr Crowley also recommended investing half an hour every week into planning for a week or two ahead.