Life moves at a fast pace. Some of us are running a business, some are juggling one too many clients or multiple jobs, some are raising a family, and some are balancing some sort of whirlwind combination. And, although being busy and productive grants an immense sense of accomplishment, would any of you say no to a list of work and life hacks that could save time or add a little spark to your day? Aha! I didn’t think so.
Master Your Inbox
1) Stick to a schedule. Be honest. How much time do you spend checking for and responding to emails? Brace yourself—this might hurt: The average American spends 6.3 hours per day answering emails! Avoid slipping into that vacuum by blocking out time in your workday dedicated to the inbox. Spend the rest of your time focusing on work at hand.
2) Turn off your notifications. This goes for any app—the more notifications popping up on your screen, the more distracted and anxious you become. Turn it off. The constant interruptions aren’t worth the loss of focus.
3) Prevent the premature email. Have you seen that screenshot floating around social media, where someone started an email saying she was afraid she’d have to cancel a meeting, but she hit send too soon, resulting in the message, “Dear Joe, I am afraid.” It gets me every time. Don’t make that mistake—wait until you’ve finished writing to fill in the To field.
Master Your Schedule
4) Stay positive. The mind is a powerful tool. At the start of each day, set an intention, list three things you’re grateful for, choose a mindset, think of something you’re excited about—whichever works best for you. Write it down somewhere that will be in your line of sight throughout the day. It will keep you in the right headspace.
5) Follow the two-minute rule. If it takes only two minutes to do, do it now. Don’t procrastinate; get it done!
6) Set reminders. Whether it’s for meetings or to make a phone call, keep reminders set on your computer so nothing falls off your radar.
7) Stand up. It’s worth repeating that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy. Invest in a standing desk and reap the benefits, including less back pain, more energy, and higher productivity. Feeling extra ambitious? Why not try a treadmill desk?
8) Keep a to-do list. At the end of each day, write down your goals and tasks for tomorrow. Leave it on your desk where it’s the first thing you’ll see in the morning. Be sure to cross off today’s completed tasks—the equivalent of a deep breath. It’s such a small action, but it’s so satisfying.
Master the Mess
9) Use your keys. Are you constantly forgetting something at home, whether it’s your lunch, gym bag, sneakers, or sometimes—gasp—your laptop? Your keys may be the key here—place them on top of whatever you need to bring with you next time you head out the door.
10) Pick it up. Tired of a cluttered house, but don’t have the time to neaten up? Break it down into small actions: each time you leave a room, pick something up and put it away.
11) Declutter your closet. At the start of each season, turn your hangers and shoes backward, only flipping them back once you wear them. If some remain backward by that season’s end, it’s time to get rid of them!
Master Your Meals
12) Chill out. Avoid watering down your wine with ice cubes. Why not try frozen grapes or, even better, wine ice cubes, instead?
13) Freeze it. Don’t let food go bad in your fridge. Freeze fruits and vegetables for smoothies or ice cream, shredded cheese for pizza, or meals for future dinners. You’ll reduce waste and save money.
14) Meal prep. Generally, the last thing we want to do after a long day is spend time cooking dinner. Instead, spend a few hours on Sunday cooking two or three big meals to eat throughout the week while still giving yourself variety. Double recipes, chop vegetables all at once, or build mason jar salads. Throw on some good music and make it happen.
15) Avoid the mess. Do your kids love popsicles? Do you hate the mess? (That’s rhetorical.) Pop the end of the popsicle stick through a muffin cup to catch all those sticky drippings.
16) Get creative. Is there one right way to eat a cupcake? How about chopping off the bottom and stacking it on the frosting on top? This way, you have less mess and a fun little cupcake sandwich!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2016, but we’ve updated it to bring you more relevant and timely information.