Time Is on Your Side

Time Is on Your Side

Racing the clock most days but never catching up? You may have more time than you think. Try these tips to boost productivity and find extra time in your day.

“Sorry! No time!” Is that what you said the last time a friend asked if you wanted to go hiking or out to lunch? For too many of us, days feel hectic and short, while to-do lists just get longer. You feel like you can’t possibly squeeze more hours out of a jam-packed week. But time management experts beg to differ. They say greater efficiency is the key to greater productivity, and that means pockets of time magically opening up. Don’t believe it? Try these five strategies to help you use time more effectively. Now, where are those hiking boots?

Block distractions. People who use social networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest spend an average of three to four hours a day on them. While it’s fun to see what your old high school pals are up to, it’s easy to spend hours when you meant to be online for only a few minutes. To increase your productivity, time management expert Peter Turla recommends downloading a program to your computer or smartphone that temporarily blocks you from accessing distracting websites. Try Cold Turkey, SelfControl, or FocalFilter.

Make shopping a snap. Grocery shopping is a few things: necessary, time-consuming, and often repetitive. That makes this activity ripe for efficiency strategies. Shari McGuire, the author of Take Back Your Time: 101 Simple Tips to Shrink Your Work-Week and Conquer the Chaos in Your Life, quit going to a physical grocery store altogether and instead shops online. “I downloaded an app from a local grocery store to save time in buying groceries. I can add to the grocery list as I go about my day, place my order when ready, and have the groceries delivered to my house.,” she says. If your grocery store doesn’t offer this service, try online grocers, such as FreshDirect or Peapod if they serve in your area. Bonus: Many apps will alert you when items you buy often are on sale.

Bank on the go. Mobile banking via smartphone applications is a time-saving feature offered by many financial institutions. In addition to checking your account balances and transferring funds between accounts, some bank apps allow you to deposit checks by uploading a picture of a signed check or inputting check details. Another great time- and money-saving strategy: Use online banking to set up automatic payments for bills.

Streamline lunch breaks. On days that you didn’t think ahead and pack lunch, avoid standing in line and order ahead. Rapid Pick-Up*, the new web-ordering program from Panera Bread®, turns meals on the go into a timesaving dream. Simply log in to panerabread.com, select your preferred location, choose the day of the week and time that you need your food to be ready, and place your order. That’s it! Your meal will be ready for pickup on the day and time specified.

Stockpile your stops. McGuire never hits only one store when she has errands to run. “I keep a list of all of the places I need to go and then map out which ones are close together geographically so that I can cover several in one outing.” You can eliminate some stops by employing the services of dry cleaners, pet groomers, car cleaners, and other companies that bring their services straight to your door.

*Rapid Pick-Up service is available at most Panera Bread bakery-cafes nationwide.