7 Habits to Return Several Hours to Every Day

Photo of Woman multitasking

#1 Stop Multitasking

It has been proven that multitasking significantly reduces brain power and focus.  By multitasking, I mean the apparent simultaneous performance of two or more tasks.

It takes your brain 4x longer to recognize and process each thing you are working on when you switch back and forth. Research has confirmed that it is impossible for the brain to fully focus on two things at the same time.

Some people think that if they can physically do it, they can mentally do it as well.  This has proved to be false.  We don’t have two brains that work independently; we have two hemispheres of one brain that work in unison.

#2 Keep the first 96 minutes of the day free from email and all distractions

I know this is going to be a hard one. Email is seductive because we think there might be something more interesting waiting for us there. Resist the temptation and focus your first hour working on your most critical task. Why 96 minutes? You’ve probably heard of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule). This principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. 20% of 8 hours is 96 minutes. Instead of wasting your day attempting to work on your critical task but never accomplishing that due to interruptions, give yourself the first 96 minutes of each day to accomplish what you need to. That accomplishment will energize you and give you more focus throughout your day. Try it for 3 days and see if you don’t see a marked difference in your productivity.

#3 Have a master list but schedule everything

Have you ever wondered why you never get everything done on your to-do list? It’s very simple, you need to DECIDE when you are going to do each task and schedule each into your calendar just as you do an appointment or a meeting.

#4 Prioritize Your Tasks

You might be struggling with deciding which task to do first, second, third. A simple answer is, is the task and ABCD or E task?


A is defined as something that is very important that you must do because it will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it. You may have more than one A task and you can prioritize those by A1, A2, and A3

B is a task that you should do but only has mild consequences such as returning an unimportant phone call or reviewing your email

C is a task defined as something that would be nice to do but there are no consequences such as having lunch with a coworker.

D is a task that you can delegate. The rule is to delegate everything that someone else can do so that you can free up more time for the A tasks that only you can do

E is a task that you can eliminate altogether and it won’t make any difference if you do such as watching TV or surfing the net.


#5 Group Similar Tasks

When scheduling your tasks group similar tasks, For example, make all of your phone calls in one block of time, computer data entry in another block of time, run errands in another block, and so on.  Not sure how long a task will take? The next time you do a routine task, time it.

#6 End each day by identifying your most critical task to work on the first 96 minutes tomorrow.

#7 Spend Your Time Wisely

Are you spending your time on your goals or are you just going through life busying yourself?   This is key to time management. Time is your most precious resource, once it’s gone, it’s gone.


  1. Janet Barclay on June 20, 2019 at 9:47 am

    #2 is very hard! Checking email is one of the first things I do when I get up, and I’m not even sure I want to change that because I don’t like doing “real” work before my brain kicks into gear. Maybe I should reserve the first 96 minutes after my morning walk and breakfast for productive work instead of checking email again. I will give that some serious thought!

    • Anne Blumer on July 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      The idea is to not check email the first 96 minutes of your workday, not the upon waking up. Does that help?

  2. Seana Turner on July 18, 2019 at 10:51 am

    I usually check my email inbox first thing, delete the trash and then “triage” the rest. I don’t deal with it right away, but I find it calming to know what has come in that I will need to work through, either today or another day. I totally agree on scheduling everything. If I don’t schedule it, I am unlikely to do it.

    • Anne Blumer on July 18, 2019 at 5:04 pm

      That is great if that method works for you! Many people can’t do a quick check and then dive into what their priority is for the day. And, that’s where they start to spiral.

  3. Olive Wagar on July 19, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    I like how you assigned a specific amount of time to that 20%! That gives me permission to dedicate that as uninterrupted time and not feel guilty about it!! My personal goal is to get up consistently at the same time every single day–which is easier when I consistently go to bed at the same time every night. 🙂 I like having a set amount of time for my morning routine & household task before stepping into my office.

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