10 tips to save an extra hour every day

The average worker would probably admit to frittering away around 2 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time. As a matter of practice, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when determining employee pay. However, employees are possibly wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect.

Here are some tips how busy professionals can reclaim some of that lost time:

1. Do emails on the train. With a notebook with 3G Mobile Broadband, you can get ahead of your emails before you even get to work. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts.)

2. Work from home. Instead of commuting to work, why not stay at home and put the journey time to better use? You can still stay in touch with your colleagues and access all your email and work files.

3. Virtual meetings. The majority of office professionals reckon they could save up to six hours a week simply by not travelling to offsite meetings. Video conference systems, web conference tools or phone conferences can reduce the amount of time you spend travelling to meetings.

4. Get up earlier. An hour before work is more productive – mainly because it is quiet – than any other time of the day. Changing sleep habits takes a bit of work but it isn’t difficult.

5. Concentrate more. If you can get the same work done quicker with better concentration, it will free up time later for other things. The key concept is ‘flow’. This is a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in what they are doing. Disruptions, such as phone calls and emails, break the flow. It can take 10-15 minutes to regain your concentration, so avoid disruptions. Switch off email, put the phone on voicemail and consider getting noise-cancelling headphones.

6. Find information faster. Microsoft Windows 7 includes a lightning-fast search feature that can find files and emails anywhere on your computer. Finding the right file quickly can save you having to rewrite it or spend hours searching manually. You can also save searches as virtual folders for future reference. For example, you can create a virtual folder for each of your clients.

7. Don’t drive to that meeting. A survey found that people waste up to six hours a week driving to meetings that they could do over the phone just as easily. Replace some of these meetings with a phone call, or better yet a video conference call, and save the travelling time.

8. Go wireless. Notebooks with built-in wireless networking mean you can get online and pick up your email from any location that has a suitable Wi-Fi connection point. If you don’t need to go back to the office between meetings or you can work in cafes, trains and airports you can get more done in less time. With 3G Mobile Broadband (available on certain notebooks) you don’t even need a connection point to get connected at broadband speeds; anywhere with cell phone reception will do.

9. Shorter, more efficient meetings. Do you find yourself spending most of your time in meetings? If you could make them more efficient, with better preparation and the right technology, you could save hours every week.

10. Get a faster computer. Hanging on to old PCs long past their use-by date can be a false economy. Newer machines are much faster and offer features that make everyday tasks much quicker. For example, some of the latest notebooks let you check your email and calendar while Windows itself boots up.

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Matthew Stibbe is writer-in-chief at Articulate Marketing. He is also an avid blogger, closet geek and HP fanatic.