How to make time during your working hours (so that you can use it for side hustles)

February 24, 2021

team of colleagues discussing meeting

Written by Anna Bauer

Let’s be sincere. If you have an office work, I am pretty sure, that you are not effectively working for 8 hours straight. Even in the ‘effective working hours’ there is a lot of time lost because of sloppiness, incorrectness, inefficiency, bad email formulation…the list is endless. Let’s cut the time-wasters and the stress. There are several tactics you can use to make time while at work. Than you can use this spared time, to start thinking and investing in side hustles that can make you some extra-income. Here is what to do:

1. Eat your frogs early in the morning
Always target the first two hours of your working routine to finish the most boring, unsettling, ‘I will do later’ jobs. We all have certain things to do which seem to take forever, or we tend to procrastinate but which always leaves us with a sense of anxiety-like I have something to do. This traps us into the illusion that we need to complete that task ‘soon’ or ‘today’, which is so vague and leads us nowhere healthy or effective. But there is an effective cure to procrastination, and that is the deadline’. We have to put ourselves a deadline: Every day I shall do my things from the first moment I go to the office, and my deadline time is 10 o’clock.

2. Prepare your frogs before you sleep
Although you may be reluctant to introduce work to your sleeping routine, this 10-minute formula can work magic and sprinkle magic dust into the following day. Keep a small notebook where you write down a shortlist of your tasks for the next day. Keep it under 3 tasks, with a simple outline each. It helps you stay focused and start fast the next day when you open your computer.

3. Low information diet
Try to skip all information, news, videos that are not essential to your job or threaten your life. You will be just fine. Russia and US Cold War, China’s overpopulation, wars in the Middle East may sound worrisome, but they are far away from your reach. There is little you can do to lessen these problems and it only adds information and stress to your brain that has nothing to do with your life. Do you still have a soft spot for people in need? Connect to a local trusted charity, give a monthly contribution, and let go.

4. Blocking the time wasters and needless interruptions
Now, lengthy emails, lengthy calls, and lengthy conversations that start on a topic but prolong into ‘I don’t know what’ are such a stressful and time-consuming activity that devour your time. Here is exactly what you should do, it will save you a lot of time, stress and your colleagues will develop deeper respect of your time:

  • If someone calls and ‘spontaneously’ passes from topic to topic, without a clear outcome, you shall detect within 15 seconds, tell the person: Excuse me, Berta, I am in the middle of something, can you please send me a very short email about the issue? I will get back to you as soon as I can.
  • If he or she offers to call later, just tell: I am not sure when I am going to finish, but during the day I may have a few seconds to have a peek at my email. An email will work best.
  • For people who send cumbersome and long emails, the same can apply(keep a ready copy-paste draft): Hello Berta, I am currently on an extremely busy schedule, can you kindly summarize it in 3 rows max. I shall be able to give a quick answer.
  • If you are the employee, rather than the boss or colleague in the case of the call, if it sounds lengthy, propose to drop by. It is very probable, that he is not as keen to hang about with his employer in person as he would through phone and a lengthy email may have a very simple origin which you can easily unravel within few seconds talking with him.

5. Avoiding needless chit-chats
As for chit-chats, the moment you sense that the conversation is going bananas, excuse yourself by saying that you love the conversation but that unfortunately, you have something urgent to finish. Be as polite and kind as possible. Remember, your colleagues are not your friends by default. You are with those people because you share the same workplace. You did not choose any of them as a colleague or friend. It is the job, that you choose.

6. Train yourself to read fast, develop a sense of urgency
If as part of your job you have to read lengthy texts I suggest implementing these universally acclaimed strategies:

  • Stop talking to yourself.
  • Cover words you’ve already read. When reading, your eyes often move back to earlier words.
  • Know when to skim and master the art of skimming
  • Circle important words throughout the text or underline them.
  • Examine pictures and diagrams. These often present a lot of information without much reading required. Take a minute or two to make sure you fully understand each diagram and take your notes.

7. Bundle similar tasks together
Tempt to group similar jobs together. Like for example, if you are a journalist, your job may include taking notes, registering audio, transcribing, editing, proofreading. Try to create a structure that bundles similar tasks together so that you don’t have to continually juggle back and forth on your desk.

8. Avoid meetings as if you were avoiding the plague
Meetings are rarely a necessity. Most of the issues to be discussed in team can easily be sorted through short, concise email correspondence. Find excuses, avoid meeting at all costs, they are such a waste of time. Ask one of your colleagues to send you a summary instead. Be creative and invent all sorts of excuses to avoid them.

9. Don’t multitask
Are you under the illusion that you are a multitasker? So are many, and you may notice it by remarking how often you find it listed in a CV. In fact, instead of trying to do many things in parallel, you should do one task at a time. New studies show that multitasking kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive Then doing a single task at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly battered with several streams of information will be unable to pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who only complete one task at a time.

And now that you have some time in your hands, learn how to do something profitable from it.

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