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How to Steal Back an Hour a Day

Topics: Career Advice

Daylight saving time: it’s like jet lag, but you don’t even get to go on a trip.

We could argue all week about whether moving the clocks ahead in the spring is beneficial or detrimental in the long run. In the short term, however, it’s likely messing with your productivity in a big way.

If you started off today feeling like someone stole an hour from your daily schedule, rejoice. While we can’t help you feel less groggy today, we can give you a few tips on regaining that lost hour.

1. Ask for a Flexible Schedule

How much could you get done, if you had an hour each day of uninterrupted work time? Start coming to work an hour earlier, and you can have just that.

Of course, most of us don’t have a spare hour lying around to devote to even more work (that’s why you’re groggily reading this post). So, consider asking the boss if you can change up your schedule a bit, for example, by coming in at 8 and leaving at 4.

You might shave precious minutes off your commute and you’ll certainly gain back time that you would have spent dealing with chatty coworkers and first-thing requests. Plus, starting your day with your own priorities will help you keep your eyes firmly on your goals even once everyone else files into the office.

2. Ruthlessly Prioritize

If your entire geographic region lost power later today, what would you want to have crossed off your to-do list before the lights went off? Do that first.

If that seems obvious, consider: the most important thing on your to-do list is also often one of the most involved. It’s easy to set those projects aside in favor of easier wins. While there’s something to be said for building up your confidence with those simpler tasks, it’s also important not to let the really big stuff slide for too long.

3. Don’t Waste Time Waiting

How many minutes of the day do you waste, waiting for technology to cooperate or meetings to begin? Make use of that time and gain back your day in increments.

“If it takes 5 minutes to boot your PC or 10 minutes for a print job to process, do something else to fill in the gap,” recommends Dave Johnson at MoneyWatch.

4. Prune Distractions

If you work at a computer, your entire workday is potentially a series of news alerts and email notifications. Take back your time by turning off as many of these electronic reminders as possible.

First up: social media. Unless you’re a social media manager, you don’t need to know every time someone posts something on Instagram or Twitter. You’ll be more productive — and happier, too.

5. Choose a Stopping Point

Unless you work in France, the limits of your workday are likely ill-defined. Thanks to technology, many workers are always connected with their jobs, answering emails and messages long after they’ve left the physical office.

The problem with this is that working constantly isn’t the same thing as working productively. After a certain point, you’ll hit a wall and stop being able to perform as well.

Pick an end to your day, even if it can’t be the second you leave your desk. Then, spend some time thinking about things that aren’t related to your job. You’ll be a better worker with a more balanced life.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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