If you call productivity expert Nicole Bandes, don’t expect to hear a few rings. A machine-generated voice answers instead, prompting you to press one to reach her or simply hang up if you are a solicitor.
“It’s a time saver!” Bandes told The Huffington Post. “It cuts down on all those robo-calls.”
Activating her phone company’s feature to block unwanted callers is just one of the many ways Bandes helps herself and her clients free up more time. As a self-professed “naturally lazy person” with big goals for her career, Bandes strives to find ways she can make herself and others more efficient.
But Bandes says that maximizing time goes beyond the office. After losing her son a little more than three years ago, she has funneled her energy into helping other people learn how to make the most of the days they have ― a job she considers a greater purpose.
“I realized I did not have any regrets about the way I managed my time. I spent time with my children when it mattered,” Bandes explained. “It kind of became this silver lining.”
Below Bandes offers a few tips to maximize every minute of your life, from the workplace to your personal life:
Replace multi-tasking with multi-purposing.
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We’ve all heard that multi-tasking can backfire. We’re meant to focus on one thing at a time
and bombarding the brain with information only slows it down. So Bandes recommends multi-purposing your time instead.
Let’s say you want to spend more time with your children after work. You could allot 45 minutes after dinner and before bed to play with your child. Or, to multi-purpose your time, simply have your children cook dinner with you, which allows you to spend time with them but also accomplish a large task.
Preparing dinner will likely take a bit longer but it is an opportunity to build a memory with your kids and accomplish your goal of, you know, eating.
Set a timer.
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Procrastination is the enemy of a productive life. But some research suggests that gamification, or applying playful rules into activity, can be a huge motivator to power through an arduous task
So try this: Set a timer (anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour) and attack your task in that time frame. Doing this can be a fun way to see how much can be accomplished in a set amount of time. Using an old-fashioned kitchen timer, which Bandes recommends, can even take the game up a notch – it actually becomes a race against the ticking clock.
Turn off push notifications.
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It’s easy to fall victim to distraction. And how could we not? Between chats, texts and Facebook notifications, everything is jockeying for our attention. But Bandes urges disabling every sort of digital distraction in order to cultivate a narrow focus.
“We’re afraid we’re going to miss something or we’re expecting a certain email to come in — that’s where that pull comes from,” she said.
Disabling alerts isn’t just for powering through a deadline at work. It is helpful during multi-purposing, too.
Think about when you are making dinner with your kids as a means to spend time with them and cross off a task – are you really present if you’re pulled away by every pop-up notification? Bandes’ suggestion taps into the very essence of what it means to be truly present – aware and intentional in the moment.
Delegate as much as possible.
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Take advantage of apps and startups designed to make your life move faster.
You might be able to shop for groceries online and have them delivered to your doorstep. Other supermarkets now do grocery pickup where you send the store your list and all you need to do is swing by and grab them, Bandes said.
Other services, such as Task Rabbit or Hello Alfred, can act as a butler service, whether it’s sorting through mail or fetching your dry cleaning. Run a Google search to see which apps are available in your neighborhood and see where you can delegate your to-do list.
Practice self care.
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Let go of perfection.
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The tendency to feel like we have to do everything is often a pressure which stems from perfectionism, Bendes explained.
“We have to be perfect. The perfect mom, the perfect spouse, everything all wrapped up into one person, and none of us are any of that,” she said, adding that the pressure to do so can take up hours out of the day.
Bandes notes that learning to let go not only frees up actual hours but also relieves anxiety and guilt which drains energy and causes someone to be less productive.
Most importantly, as you go about your mission of maximizing each hour, remember to take it easy on yourself. Completing your to-do list is one thing, but placing a ton of pressure on yourself to “do it all” is a task worth dropping.