How to find seven more hours in the working day*

Promotional feature with Red Bull

*Well, not really, but it’ll certainly feel like it…  

Carry a notebook
Simple, but effective. Constantly cycling through a mental to-do list or thinking about how you must mention some brand new research in that meeting with your colleague next Tuesday? Write it all down. Get it out of your brain. As soon as it comes into your head.

Even the cathartic action of scribbling it down and committing it to paper somewhere will clear your mind so you can solve problems and come up with creative ideas more efficiently. (It’s also an excuse to pick up that leather-bound Smythson you’ve been eyeballing for yonks).

Identify your most productive time
Spend a couple of days making notes about your energy levels – when you’re at your sprightliest and when even simply typing an email feels like wading through tar. Once you’ve pinpointed the time of day when you’re at your best, make sure you remove ALL distractions during that time. Studies have found that people take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to resume interrupted tasks, so removing these distractions completely for an hour a day will make you much more productive. Promise.

If you’re truly a Twitter addict, though, try downloading Freedom or Self-Control, apps favoured by authors Zadie Smith and Nick Hornby, which block your computer’s access to the internet for a specific period of time. Genius. Fancy hearing from other inspirational personalities about how they’re getting it done at work? Look out for the Red Bull Can Do Sessions, a series of productivity events launching this summer. Check RedBull.co.uk/Productivity for more details.

Use the Pomodoro Technique
We’re all very ‘reactive’ at work – responding to other people’s emails, dealing with others’ queries and emergencies, slowly and secretly dozing off in others’ painfully dull meetings (just us?). Well it’s time to get proactive instead. Ideally you shouldn’t start your day by answering emails, as the onus is then on other people’s priorities instead of your own. Instead you should focus on your own key task.

Here’s where the Pomodoro Technique comes in. Pick a task, let’s call it your MIT (most important task), set the timer on your phone for 25 minutes. Work ONLY on that task until the timer goes off (no flitting, no leaving your desk, no chatting, no Tweets). Then, take a five-minute break – you can use this to relax and refuel; do a spot of meditation and mindfulness to ‘re-boot’ your brain in between tasks. When you’re feeling calm again, simply repeat the process. Easy.

Handle things straight away
When it comes to a bulging email inbox, pesky voicemails or even boring paperwork, there’s really no time like the present. Just do it (read, answer, delete, file). According to ‘time architect’ Jana Kemp, the time you’ll save by not faffing can add up to 10 HOURS a month. That’s basically 10 spin classes, 10 yoga sessions with friends, 10 sunset hikes with your oft-ignored partner. That’s the point of all this, right?

In fact, there’s a lot you can do with the hours you’ll gain by being more productive during the day. Which is why Red Bull is challenging the nation to get out of the office early on National 4pm Finish Day – Friday, 15th September – and do more of the things they love. Sign up at RedBull.co.uk/4pmFinish to get involved.

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