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How to win back time

In this fast-paced modern world where we try to have it all, many of us are becoming time-poor. Trainer David Stiernholm offers advice on how to work smarter, not harder

by Psychologies

1. Hunt out the millstones

‘Millstones’ are tasks that never seem to shift from your to-do list. Usually, they’re the things you’ve defined too broadly to achieve in a day (say, clearing out the spare room). Take the task, break it down and put just one next step on the to-do list. Make it so small that you almost do not want to bother writing it on your list. When you complete it, you’ll feel like a real ‘doer’ who is gaining back time instead of feeling disappointed in yourself.

2. Listen to ‘brown noise’

It’s easy for your mind to wander and simple tasks can end up taking much longer than they should. Listen to ‘brown noise’ to help reduce distractions. This is a synthetically produced, calming noise that has a lower frequency than white noise and sounds like a low rumble or an ocean. Try an app such as White Sleep or Noisli.

3. Write without the distraction

A recent study suggests that the average person will spend more than five years of their life on social media. Try using a software program, such as OmmWriter, that allows you to write the old-fashioned way without getting distracted by your social media feeds.

4. Recycle more than just objects

You probably recycle paper and plastics at home, but have you ever thought about how recycling information might save you time? Create a document named ‘Useful phrases’. Find phrases among your sent emails that you may be able to use and add them to the document for next time, so you don’t have to stress every time you’re writing something similar to what you’ve written before.

Super Structured: How To Overcome Chaos And Win Back Time’ by David Stiernholm (LID Publishing, £12.99)

Photograph: iStock