Skip to content

2. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

"Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value -- for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping," says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut. 

Her advice: Take stock of activities that don't enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them.

You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. "We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient without realizing it," Stack says.

3. Rethink your errands.

Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands.

Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered? Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn? Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office? Order your stamps online so you don't have to go to the post office? Even if you're on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you'll save will make it worth it.

Stack also suggests trading services with friends. Offer to do tasks that you enjoy or that you were planning to do anyway.

"You could exchange gardening services for babysitting services," Stack says. "If you like to cook, you could prepare and freeze a couple of meals and give them to a friend in exchange for wrapping your holiday gifts."

4. Get moving.

It's hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate.

"Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert," Brooks says. "And I've noticed that when I don't exercise because I'm trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don't feel as alert."

Samantha Harris, a lawyer who works for a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, goes to her gym 2 or 3 mornings a week before her family wakes up. "It's been a real boost in terms of the way I feel for the rest of the day," she says. "I feel like my head is clearer and I've had a little time to myself."