20 time-saving hacks that will free up hours in your weekly schedule

Photo: Getty Images

Research about productivity teaches us one clear lesson: Multitasking doesn’t work.

So what are busybodies of the 21st century to do?

According to users on the question-and-answer site Quora, there are a range of daily behaviours people can tweak — even just slightly — to free up lots of extra time during the week.

Get ready to be your most efficient self.

Automate as many of your daily tasks as possible, so you can focus on bigger things.

Frog Design

'Let's see what are the things you could automate:

-Don't love going to the grocery store every week? Use a grocery delivery service

-Don't love cleaning your house every few weeks? Use Airtasker

-Don't love cooking every day? Try Foodora, Deliveroo or Menulog

-Don't love washing clothes? Use Airtasker

-Don't love paying bills? Use Auto pay on your account or direct debit

-Don't love thinking about what to wear each day? Look for inspiration on Who What Wear, Popsugar or Pinterest

Once you automate everything that you don't love, then the rest is beautiful!'


Follow the 'Two-minute rule': If something takes very little time, just get it done.

EasilyDo Email

'If you can do something (like replying to an email, or a house chore) in 2 minutes, do it now. Planning it for later, remembering it, doing it in the future will take 5 minutes or more.'

-Marius Ursache

Think of your ability to make good decisions as a limited resource, because that's what it is.

Photo: IMBb/ Wolf of Wall Street.

'Don't think that willpower will help you when you get in trouble. Make important decisions in the morning and automate everything possible (delegate, batch etc.). US presidents don't have to choose their menu or suit colour every day -- otherwise their willpower will be depleted at that late hour when they should push (or not push) the red button).'

-Marius Ursache

Incorporate the 'Four-song rule' into your morning routine to avoid taking too long.

'The idea is that if you like listening to music in the morning, you can use songs to time stuff you do, instead of using a clock. Assuming the average duration of a song is around 5 minutes, you can get ready in 20 minutes.

'Here is how I do it:

Song 1 - Brush your teeth and floss.

Song 2 - Your hot water is ready, take a shower and if you're a bit of a bathroom singer, just sing along.

Song 3 - Get dressed, and maybe dance around while you're at it.

Song 4 - Accessorize, put some cologne on, pack your bag, turn off the music and you're good to go.

'Some good music in the morning makes my day and this way I can save a lot of time. I am a lazy arse, and I used to take about an hour to get ready earlier. Now I use the time I save to sleep!'

-Ajitabh Gupta

Make your temptations hard to reach so that they won't distract you.

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider


Suppose, you are working on some important project and you get distracted by your phone, then keep your phone in a separate room far from the room you are working in.'

-Girish Khaitan

Don't be available all the time.

'I always keep my phone on silent, and return calls in batches.'

-Marius Ursache

Never walk empty-handed -- you can always tidy up.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

'There's always something that needs to be somewhere (like in the car or taken out of the car, trash...), therefore always 'enrich' your tiny commuting tasks at home by moving thing to their destination on the way.'

-Bernhard Grabowski

Use an app that blocks your access to time-wasting websites.

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'Add in the websites that you spend the most time procrastinating on, and then it lets you block them for hours at a time with the click of a button, forcing you to do work. Uninstalling or rebooting doesn't do anything : )

'There are a number of apps that do this, but this is the one I found most useful: SelfControl.

'Takes two seconds to do.'

-Michael Lam

If you want to be good at something, do it every day.

Say no to invitations you don't actually want.

'A lot of people will hate you for this, but you'll have time to do relevant stuff.'

-Marius Ursache

Always have a 'to-do' list.

'Writing tasks down and cross checking once they are completed makes work easier and puts a day's tasks in perspective. By having a to-do list, one always remembers his/her tasks and accomplishes his or her goals more quickly by not spending too much time on one.'

-Eli Keledorme

Practice the 'Pomodoro technique.'

'That's timeboxing -- For 30 minutes do only the task at hand. Nothing else: no phones, email, talking to people, Facebook, running out of the building in case of fire. Nothing else.'

-Marius Ursache

Practice meditation and breathing practices to regain clarity.

'Start with 10 minutes every day, and build it up over time to 40-60 minutes. Over what time period (1 month or 12) you build it up is entirely up to you. As you see the benefits you will see that you want to do more and more of it. Also, if you don't have time for your quota say 10 minutes, start with 5, 2. But do it every day.

'How is that productive?

'Well to over-simplify it, when you meditate, even simple focus on breath, it clears your mind up. Thought agitations calm down and thought webs clear out. It energizes you and preps you for the rest of the day.'

-Meeta Kabra

For podcast and ebook fans, consume your audio while you do activities that don't require a lot of concentration, like cooking or cleaning.

Photo: Shutterstock.

'I have a durable waterproof bluetooth speaker which I use while I brush my teeth, take a shower, cook, etc. I live in a city where people walk and mostly take public transportation so I listen while others play games on their phones.

'Even when I swim, I use a waterproof headset which not only allows me to consume podcasts while I swim, but it makes the time fly by that much faster.'

-Adrian Ma

Never sit at the computer without a plan for what you are going to do there.


'Intention can be 20 minutes on Facebook. Just make it and follow it.'

-Milena Rangelov

Whenever you use a roll of tape, fold over the free end when you're done.

Ademola Oridate

'It saves you the time of trying to figure out where the free end is 'hiding' when next you need it.'

-Ademola Oridate

Fold your t-shirts in under two seconds with a clever technique.

Will Wei, Business Insider

'This step-by-step guide shows you how to fold a shirt very quickly. Works on all short sleeved tops including t-shirts and polo shirts. Great tutorial and easy to learn. And saves a lot of time...'

-Harshit Kumar

Practice the 'Plus one' rule: Whenever you take on a task, tack on another easy one while you're at it.

'Every small task I have to do, such as writing an email or clearing up some cups, whatever, while I'm doing it I look out for, or think of one extra task I would otherwise have left undone, and do it quickly too. It doesn't save time immediately, but cumulatively I'm getting through a lot more. I like the way it's easy to remember and if I keep it up hopefully it will turn into a habit.'

-Leo Hartas

Stay on task by creating a written 'chain' of productivity.

'To manage large home improvement projects, I use a trick called 'the chain':

'Spend a little time on the project every day. Whatever you do, don't 'break the chain' and skip a day. Once the chain grows long enough, you will dread breaking it.

'When I start the chain, send myself an email. At the end of each day, I replay to the thread with a couple things I tackled that day and some ideas for what to do tomorrow.'

-Steve Johnson

A good filing system will keep you from scrambling for things when you need them most.


'This reduces time looking for documents in different places. A good filing systems has an active and an archive part, so that you can move all closed task to archive.'

-Jan Fischbach

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