Presented By
Don't waste time filing emails away
Michael Kelley—Getty Images
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

1) Use The 20 Second Rule

Make things you shouldn’t do take 20 seconds longer to accomplish (moving the ever-buzzing phone across the room) and the things you should do 20 seconds easier.

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

2) Have A Solid Daily Ritual

Via 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done:

3) Don’t Be Fast, Be Smooth

A Formula One pit crew — a group that depends on fast, efficient teamwork — found that they weren’t at top speed when they concentrated on speed. It was when they emphasized functioning smoothly as a group that they made their best times.

Via Oliver Burkeman’s wonderful The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking:

4) Know The Best Times To Do Things

Know the optimal time to do things so you don’t waste time. Some notable highlights:

  • Best time to send emails you want read: 6AM.
  • Best time for thinking: Late morning.
  • Creative thinking: Creativity can be improved when we’re tired so try brainstorming when daytime sleepiness peaks at around 2PM.
  • Best day of the week to eat dinner out: Tuesday (freshest food, no crowds)
  • Best day to fly: Saturday (fewer flights means fewer delays, shorter lines, less stress)

Full list is here.

5) Hold Meetings Standing Up

Sick of time-wasting meetings? Bob Sutton’s great book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst points to a great trick. Hold your meetings standing up:

6) Get More Sleep

Cheating yourself on sleep reduces willpower and it’s this same store of self-control that helps us resist all those bad behaviors like aimless web-surfing:

7) Stop Sorting Email

Sorting your email into folders? Don’t bother: “…researchers discovered that those who did no email organizing at all found them faster than those who filed them in folders.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join more than 100,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

6 things that will make you more productive

What are the two steps for beating procrastination right *now*?

Is there a way to optimize your daily schedule?

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at

You May Also Like