You can increase your productive time per day significantly by actively influencing your sleeping habits. As a first step you avoid oversleeping because it makes you dizzy for a big part of the day.

As a second step you start to reduce your sleep by a few minutes every day. After a while you will find the right balance of sleep you really require. Since this very individual point is different for every person you can only find it through trial and error.

However, it is worth going through the pain since adapting your sleep patterns can easily gain 30 to 60 minutes per day. Think of what you could all do with this extra time over a year…

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

Dear readers,

I am happy to announce that the best tips of the “Happy About An Extra Hour” blog now are also available as a paperback or e-book.

“Happy About An Extra Hour Every Day” is a collection of the best tips of the blog. Compared to the blog it has a clear structure and summarizes many tips related to a similar subject. It is ideal for people who want to improve their time management step by step. Select a few time saving ideas from the book and apply them until they become habits. Then review the book again and select the next ideas you want to apply in your day to day life. 

You can get the book

I want to thank all readers for your continuous support and the encouraging comments.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

Jun

06

If you face difficulties pursuing your goals over a long period of time you can use other people to create public pressure. Announcing your goal makes it more difficult to give up or procrastinate:

  • Tell your coworkers you’re going to achieve a goal and report on your progress from time to time.
  • Tell your family and friends about your goal and ask them to keep you motivated. Keep them updated and report on the progress of the action items.
  • Write about your goa on a blog or 43Things and post regular updates.
  • Print your goals and the progress of action items and place them at a prominent place in your house of office.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

Prepare a list of important phone numbers and contact details at a prominent place in your home. In case of emergency you will not waste any time in searching. Typical information for such a sheet is:

  • Emergency services (police, ambulance, fire station)
  • Your doctor
  • Family members & close friends
  • Your insurance broker
  • Your bank & credit card companies
  • Your children’s school

It will only take a few minutes to prepare that list but it can save precious seconds the day you might need it.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

images-9Meetings are an important tool to align and coordinate multiple people. Each meeting requires a chairman or chairwoman who steers this process in order to ensure that the meeting is held in an efficient way without wasting the participant’s time. The following rules help you to become a good meeting chairman.

1) Confirm the objective of the meeting:

Everybody needs to be aligned on the purpose of the meeting at the beginning. This reduces unnecessary side discussions. Teams also work better when having a common goal. I therefore recommend starting each meeting with a greeting and the statement of the objectives for this specific meeting.

images-72) Define key roles:

Every meeting requires three key roles to function.

- The chairman moderates the meeting and manages the time and the agenda. It is his/her responsibility to start and end the meeting on time.

- The administrator takes the minutes and records decisions and action items. In the ideal case the administrator also follows-up on the action items to make sure that the responsible persons implement them. If there is a follow-up meeting the administrator reports on the implementation progress.

- The participants contribute to the meeting with their ideas and also are responsible for the implementation of tasks. Never assign tasks to people  who are not present at the meeting. If the task itself cannot be completed by any of the participants assign someone to delegate it to the appropriate person. Since the participants are supposed to contribute with their thoughts it is important to reduce distractions. Don’t allow people to use their laptops or mobile devices to check or write e-mails during the meeting.

3) Summarize at the end of each agenda item:

Confirm all action items and decisions made at the end of each agenda item. This ensures that you can really close the item and helps the minute taker too. You might also ask the minute taker if he has any questions. The better the minutes are the less work you will have later in checking them.

4) Write and confirm minutes during the meeting:

images-14I have seen a company that had two projectors with two screens in each meeting room. One screen was to share the presentation material related to the agenda. The second screen was usually reserved for the minute taker and every participant confirmed that the wording of the minutes correct. This procedure allows agreeing on the minutes during the meeting so that there is no necessity to send around drafts for confirmation. This saves time to all participants and the implementation of actions and decisions starts immediately after the meeting.

If you do not have the space or budget for such a technically perfect solution you can also help yourself with a large display on the meeting table or by reading the wording of the minutes loudly at the end of each agenda item.

5) Close the meeting on time:

images-11As a general principle you should close each meeting on time, regardless if you are the chairman or a participant. As a chairman people will very soon know you habit and act in a way that in a way that allows finishing all items within the planned time. As a participant you can state that you have to go to the next meeting or that you scheduled a phone call. Finishing a meeting on time is not only a good time saver but also a courtesy to all other participants who have busy schedules too.

6) Properly close the meeting:

When the meeting come to an end properly close it. Thank all participants for their contributions and confirm the most important decisions and action items. If you know that the ream requires another meeting on this project or topic immediately arrange the schedule for the next meeting. With everyone at the table it requires significantly less coordination effort. What usually might take up to an hour or more will be completed within a few minutes.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

Urgent tasks create interruptions and distract you from your real goals. The urgent is focused on the short-term whereas the important things should be related to the achievement of your goals. If you regularly are confronted with urgent matters that suddenly pop-up, you first have to analyze the source of these urgent tasks:

1) Procrastination

One major source of urgent matters can be your own procrastination. Some people feel an excitment when they have to complete something on the last minute even if they had all the time to prepare things in advance.

If this is true for you, there is a choice to be made. In case you are happy with this situation, don’t change it - it will not work anyhow.

If you feel bad about this most of the time, you have to apply techniques to manage your procrastination. In the first step you need a proper to-do list. Then you schedule time slots in your calendar to work on the tasks you typically procrastinate. Even if you cannot complete them during this time the progress makes it easier to restart the next time. It is also important that you put away all possible distractions and also reward yourself once you completed the task.

2) Other colleagues

If urgent tasks mainly come from other colleagues you need to openly address this. They keep interrupting you and reduce your overall productivity. This behavior makes it impossible for you to plan your own tasks. Rather than blaming your colleague it is better to explain why these urgent matters are difficult to handle for you. When he understands your situation you can come up with a proposal on how you can even better support in case you receive the requests or information earlier.

If this does not work at all and you have a feeling that your colleague does not care there might be no other way than using an urgent but not so important matter and let your colleague wait. Just make sure that it does not impact a customer.

3) Your boss

If you boss permanently interrupts you with urgent tasks you need to improve your communication. Propose a regular meeting where you discuss upcoming tasks. This should help reducing the number of urgent items coming up suddenly.

You also have to understand the difference between urgent and important. There are tasks that might be urgent but not important.  In general I recommend giving the important task a higher priority than the urgent but unimportant task.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

images-2Every day we have multiple opportunities to interact with other people. This includes people we already know but most of the times we are surrounded by people we do not know yet. Have you ever actively thought about how you  approach people you don’t know? Does is regularly happen to you that would like to talk to someone you don’t know but you hesitate and miss the opportunity? A change in your mind-set with regards to other people can make a huge difference in your approach.

images-31I recently read the book of Steve Pavlina “Personal Development for Smart People” and found a simple but very effective advice on how set your mind-set to be more open when meeting new people.  One of his ideas is to image that you already are connected to all other people. I tried to apply this idea for a few weeks and the results are amazing. I am living a Tokyo - the largest city of the world - and you basically don’t care about people these many people you interact with every day. Thinking that you are connected already makes you more friendly in the first place. It probably is common sense that people then react in a nice way and both feel good.

But it also is amazing how much easier it becomes to approach totally new people. I tried this on a fair for Japanese food last week since it was the perfect occasion to interact with strangers. The idea of Steve Pavlina changed my approach and I never felt uncomfortable talking to someone . Discussions with other people started in a very natural and open way with a human touch.

You also have t be aware that this approach does not become a habit immediately. It takes a few weeks until you automatically apply it to every person you meet. But I can assure you that it is worth going for it. It does not cost money or hours of preparation - just a though to be connected already before you start talking.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

images-5One of the first things to learn is time management is to write things down - even if you have a good memory. Scientific research showed that we remember much more things when we write them down. According to Baddeley’s model of working memory our memory consists of a phonological loop, a visual and an episodic loop. These loops represent short time memory and it seems that they reinforce each other. This means that the probability to remember something is much higher if you write it down - even if you don’t need the notes later.

The second reason for taking notes is that you free your mind. Permanently reminding yourself that you don’t have to forget this or that simply causes stress. Once you wrote down all items you can focus your mind on achieving the task you are currently working on.

imagesI therefore recommend having a note pad with you where you takes meeting notes, reminders or where you can do brainstorming. Taking it with allows you to also turn idle time into productive time - regardless where you are . Although I am a large fan of electronic devices I believe that there is no alternative to having an A4 note pad, so that you are quick and also have sufficient space. On top of the paper you might also use an electronic help such as evernote in case you travel a lot. It allows you to take quick notes by voice, picture or text through your mobile phone and automatically synchronizes it with you PC at work or at home.

images-3It is absolutely mandatory that you plan a fixed time to review your notes once a day. The best time to do this is when you plan your day. During this time you transfer tasks into your to-do list, update your calendar and schedule other activities related to your notes.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

Mar

03

Long distance flights are often at night. Although these flights are a great opportunity to get a little bit of sleep, I know many people telling me that they cannot sleep on the plane. This is a collection of a few items that help falling asleep in a plane.

1) Fall asleep during take-off

Did you ever notice that many people fall asleep during take-off and landing of the plane? The air inside the plane gets recycled without adding fresh air at these times, so that the oxygen level is dropping. This sudden drop makes us feel asleep. This means that you should plan to start sleeping during take-off. Although you are not allowed to decline your seat you should get into a comfortable position and close your eyes once the plane starts moving away from its parking position.

2) Use earplugs

You might not always realize it since the sound is very stable but it is very loud inside a plane. You have the sound of the motor, of the air-conditioning and the air outside in addition to all kind of noises made by other passengers and the staff. The easiest way to reduce the noise level is to use earplugs. Headphones with noise reduction function are a great option if you don’t find them too large.

3) Use the eye-shield

Use an eye-shield to protect from the bright light and the constant movements taking place in a plane at all times.

4) Tell the purser you want to sleep

Once you are sleeping you don’t want to wake up just because they are serving some meal or drinks. Let the purser know early that you don’t want to be disturbed and that you are ready to skip a meal in case you are sleeping. Some airlines even offer stickers to indicate this wish for night flights.

5) Don’t check the inflight entertainment program

More and more planes have personal inflight entertainment systems in each seat including the economy class. Having a choice of a few dozen movies and games you will certainly find something interesting. If you want to sleep on the plane you therefore better don’t even look at the program. Once you start watching a movie it probably will take you more time to fall asleep.

6) Reserve a comfortable seat

In first or business class it does not matter so much which seat you are in. If you fly economy class you should try to get a seat in front of a wall or the emergency exit since it provides more space. When I want to sleep on the plane I usually get a window seat. You can put the pillow into the window and win a few additional centimeters of space.

7) Wear clothes to relax

Wear loose clothes if you want to sleep on the plane. Use trousers without a belt. Since it is cold in high altitude you should also take something warm with you. It is hard to sleep when you are freezing.

8) Don’t drink alcohol

Alcohol helps you to fall asleep but the quality of your sleep is low. Considering all the noise and possible interruptions in the plane I recommend not drinking alcohol. It might take longer until you sleep but you will sleep much better. Please also consider that with high altitude your reacts more sensitively to alcohol than usual.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

Mar

02

 

When I was busy it often I often  got a sandwich or lunchbox and I ate at my desk.  It is only much later that I realized that this is a very bad habit.

 

  • Eating at your desk does not make you more productive. Whilst eating you are not really focused on your work and how often did you take this opportunity to just surf the Internet.
  • Taking a short break boosts productivity which makes up for the “lost minutes”.
  • Eating at the desk creates clutter and dirt, and you might spend time re-arranging the stuff on your desk to create space to eat.
  • When your mouth is full it is difficult to pick-up the phone anyhow.

 

The conclusion is that even if you only have the time for a short sandwich you better take a short walk away from your desk. You will return more refreshed and once back to your working environment you can immediately re-focus on getting things done.

Related articles:

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb