Ask an expert: how to find more hours in the day

Making a few tweaks in your workday can make a huge difference in your productivity.

Having too many tasks and not enough time often causes people to lose focus and motivation, and to drift away from pursuing their highest priority work. The amount of information that must be managed, and the multiple responsibilities that must be juggled, can add up to an overwhelming tide that swamps the ability to concentrate and make reliable decisions. However, making a few tweaks in your workday can make a huge difference.

Get things done before 9 a.m. Ever notice how your morning sets the tone for your whole day? As Sir Isaac Newton famously said, "Objects in motion tend to stay in motion." So if an object (you) gets a groggy, frustrating start, you’ll probably feel sluggish and behind the eight ball all day. However, if you start your day with positive and productive ideas and actions, you’re likely to gain momentum throughout the day.

Cut down on meetings. If you’re meeting once a day for an hour, you’re wasting five hours of work every week. The solution? Unless you’re really needed, don’t go. Meet less often with fewer people, limit your time, have a clear goal and stay on topic.

Own up to your junk hours. Junk hours are like junk food: while they provide short-term pleasure, they contribute to long-term imbalance and exhaustion. These hours include chasing rabbit trails on the Internet, shooting the breeze with colleagues at the watercooler or checking email to avoid doing other work. Don’t be ashamed that your junk hours exist, because everybody needs to take breaks and shift gears. Your task is to exchange your low-value junk activities for ones that build greater health and value into your workday.