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Ten ways to get an extra hour each day

Struggling to find enough hours in the day to get everything done? Here's how to maximise your efficiency, says Louise Emma Clarke

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Starting the day by creating a ‘to do' list will gather your thoughts and help you to prioritise.

1. Pick your outfit the night before
The time waster: Selecting your outfit each morning. Your indecision and numerous outfit changes could be contributing to a morning of inefficiency.

The solution: "After a good night's sleep, the morning is the time of the day that we are alert and productive, but most of us waste time preparing for the day ahead," explains UAE-based life coach Michelle Burton-Aoun ( "It seems like a small thing, but planning your outfit the night before helps you to hit the ground running. It sets you off on the right foot and puts you in the right frame of mind for the day ahead."

2. Write a 'to do list'
The time waster: Whether you work or spend the day at home, there are always tasks to be accomplished - and knowing where to start is half the challenge.

The solution: Starting the day by creating a ‘to do' list will gather your thoughts and help you to prioritise. Life coach Shana Kad ( advises: "Write all the phone calls you need to make in one column and the physical tasks in another. Write the things that will make the most impact to your day at the top and work through them in sequence. I recommend hand-writing the list, as there's a real sense of satisfaction when you cross each completed task off."

3. Maximise the minutes
The time waster: Do you find yourself daydreaming on the commute to and from work? Or, find yourself with 15 minutes to spare between appointments? On days when you are struggling to get everything achieved, this time could actually be put to very good use.

The solution: "Instead of reading a novel, you could print articles and material you need to read and work through themon your commute," advises Sahar Haffar Moussly, a Dubai-based UK-certifiedLife Coach ( )."You could listen to audio seminars and books whilst driving and use the moments when you are early to meet friends or colleagues to make the phone calls that you never get round to during the day."

4. Work when you're most alert
The time waster: Some of us are more alert in the morning, whilst others more productive in the afternoon. If you're struggling to complete tasks quickly and efficiently, it could be because you are tackling them at the wrong time of day.

The solution: "Different people are at their peak at different times of the day," Michelle explains. "Getting to know your peak performance period and planning to complete the most challenging tasks during this time will save you time and effort. There's no time for procrastination during your peak performance time - make an effort to focus entirely on the job in hand at this time, leaving time for relaxation later in the day."

5. Clear your clutter
The time waster: If the space around you is cluttered, things take far longer to achieve. "A cluttered desk, workspace, or home can impact on your life in so many ways," explains Louise Barson of Silver Concierge ( "It will sap your energy, change your mood, and waste valuable time."

The solution: Louise continues: "The solution is to clear the clutter. When you are ready to start, pick a single drawer, shelf, or area and make it your first target. Clear a few hours in the diary and aska family member or friend to help. Once it's tidy, you can plan the next session - and stage by stage, the space will start to transform."

6. Reward yourself
The time waster: When a task is too big or too daunting, it's natural to put it off for as long as possible. The result is procrastination - whether it's daydreaming, browsing the internet, listening to music or tidying up at home.

The solution: Motivation is key, so reward yourself when you complete the biggest challenges. Not only will yoube more likely to tackle the task in the first place, but it will also keep you focused on the task throughout. Sahar says, "I suggest treating yourself to a few hours of relaxation - a spa treatment, or even a weekend away. Or why not add a Dh20 note to a jar every time you reach a goal? When it gets to Dh500, you will really be able to treat yourself."

7. Keep a notebook
The time waster: There are few things more frustrating than having a sudden flash of inspiration, but forgetting about it before you have a chance to act. "Every one of us has at least five different things running through our minds at any given time," explains Michelle. "When we have so many things to think about, we can easily get stressed and confused."

The solution: "Keep a notebook with you at all times," recommends Michelle. "Writing things down can take some pressure off our minds and ensure that we function smoothly and efficiently."

8. Schedule internet time
The time waster: With emails, social networking, and online shopping tempting you throughout the day, it's no wonder simple tasks can take hours to achieve.

The solution: Instead of browsing the internet throughout the day, schedule the time and be disciplined. "It's been proven that productivity can increase by almost 400 per cent when you are not interrupted," explains Hanan Nagi, CEO of HNI Training & Coaching ( "Emails, Facebook, SMS, and BlackBerry Messenger should all be regarded as interruption. I suggest setting an auto response on your work email, advising people that you will be checking your mail intermittently and to call if it is urgent."

9. Delegate tasks
The time waster: It can be hard to pass control on to other people, but if there are people who will be quicker or more efficient at the task, you are wasting time that could be put to better use elsewhere.

The solution: "Learning to delegate tasks will save a lot of time every day," advises Michelle. "What matters is that the tasks get done, whether by you or somebody else. If you struggle with trust, ask the staff or family member to send or show the task to you for review, as that will be far quicker than starting from scratch."

10. Tidy up before bed
The time waster: Tired at the end of the day? Leaving those coffee mugs unwashed or your workspace messy will waste valuable minutes the next day.

The solution: "Always tidy up at the end of the day," recommends Sahar. "Not only is it useful to clear the sitting room before heading off to bed, but it's also beneficial to take a quiet 15 minutes looking over your diary and tasks for the next day. Heading to bed with a tidy house and tidy mind will make you far more organised and efficient the next day."