Decluttering: How to get an extra 60 minutes in your day

What would you do if you had an extra hour in your day? How would you spend it? Perhaps you would use it to improve your English. We often hear our students say that there isn’t enough time in the day to learn English, even on one of our intensive courses. In this week’s post, Laura reviews a book a book called ‘How to save an hour every day’ by Michael Heppell, which promises to give you that extra hour a day back.

Heppell gives great advice on how to gain more time.  Many of his ideas are basic common sense but it’s good to have a reminder of how we end up wasting time in our day-to-day lives.  ‘How to save an hour every day’ is also an easy read, which is obviously a bonus for those who are pressed for time!  

I’ve picked out three of the best pieces of advice below:

Cut the clutter!
Anyone who’s seen my desk will know that I should probably have a big sort-out and I bet some of you reading have the same problem!  Heppell advises us to ‘cut the clutter’ because ‘clutter, stuff and in particular paper weigh you down.’  To declutter your desk, he recommends a simple system called ‘Fling, file and flip’.  This is where you go through everything and make three piles; the ‘Fling it’ pile is stuff to throw away, the ‘File It’ pile, as the name suggests, is stuff to file away, and the ‘Flip It’ pile consists of things that you can delegate to colleagues, friends or family! 

Put yourself on record 
Have you ever promised to ‘do something as soon as possible’?  It sounds urgent and committed but in fact it isn’t specific enough.  Heppell recommends giving yourself specific deadlines and following them up with emails, texts, or messages to the person you’ve promised the work to.  That way, you’re ‘on record’ as having made the commitment.  

Not to do lists 
If you’re anything like me, you’re surrounded by ‘to do’ lists.  I love them so much that if I do something that isn’t on the list, I’ll add it to the list just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off.  Heppell’s clever idea of ‘Not To Do lists’ turns this on its head.  My ‘Not To Do’ list includes reading the free newspapers (although I do recommend doing this to my students!), spending too much time on Facebook and unnecessary shopping.  The last one also saves money and stress!  What would you put on your ‘Not To Do’ list?

So on the whole, I found the book really helpful and would definitely recommend it, even if you just flick through and take a couple of ideas from it.  However, one suggestion that I didn’t like was the idea of dividing your day into 15-minute segments.  For me, this is too rigid and mechanical.  As classroom teachers, our day tends to be strictly timetabled anyway, so outside of this I aim to be efficient but flexible!  Another criticism is that Heppell is quite dismissive of social media, and while I know that it’s possible to waste a lot of time on social media, it can save as much time as it wastes, and these days is a crucial tool for business.  

Well, I hope that your work-life balance is roughly how you want it!  If so, what tips can you give us for creating more time in your life? 

This link takes you to the How to Save an Hour resources page, which includes the time tracker, which I don’t like, and a motivational hour, which I do.

Here you can watch a short video showing Londoners decluttering at the Chiswick car boot sale.

to be pressed for time (exp.) – to not have enough time
clutter (unc. n.) – unnecessary stuff
declutter (v.) – to get rid of unnecessary stuff
fling (v.) – throw (away)
delegate (v.) – give one of your tasks to someone else
cross it off (exp.) – to put a line through an item on a list when it’s finished<s>
turn something on its head (exp.) - do something in the opposite way
flick through (phr.v.) – to quickly turn the pages of a book or magazine
segment (n.) – section, part
rigid (adj.) – inflexible
dismissive (adj.) – critical, negative, not taking into consideration
crucial (adj.) – vital, necessary
roughly (adv.) - approximately
car boot sale – a popular form of market in the UK, where members of the public sell unwanted items from the boot (trunk) of their car

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