Tea with the Queen

3 tips to steal back time in your workday



Do you feel like you never have enough time in your workday to get everything done?

Even if you set yourself a task list for the day which looks like it should be achievable, you’re still struggling to get through it. 

At the end of the day you feel unproductive, overwhelmed and you’re struggling to see where the hours went.

It’s an extremely common feeling, and I have three tips to help you steal back your precious time that I know will help you achieve more.

There Is No Extra Time To Be Found

Let’s start with the obvious. The truth is, there is no more time to be found; it’s all about how we utilise the time we have.

Have you ever noticed how time seems to drag on when you’re doing something you don’t like, compared to when you’re engrossed in an activity you love? The key to making time work for you is to focus on tasks that play to your strengths and bring you joy. For me as an avid roller skater, when I’m in the roller rink an hour can feel like 10 minutes and I’ve been completely lost in the fun. But when I’m doing something like tackling spreadsheets (okay, I rarely do that, but you get my point), then one hour can feel like five!

Julie’s Struggle with Productivity

I recently worked with a client, Julie, who was feeling overwhelmed by her workload and constantly running out of hours in the day. Through our session, we identified that Julie needed to reassess her routines and prioritise her tasks. We needed to shift some of her most common habits that were stopping her from being productive. 

By conducting a time audit using tools like Toggl, we pinpointed where she was spending her time on less important tasks, and pull her focus to what was necessary to get done.

So with this in mind, I shared with Julie the three tips that I’ve found to help you steal back time in your workday.

  1. Batching Your Tasks

One of the strategies I shared with Julie, which I find highly effective for myself as well, is task batching. Grouping similar tasks prevents time lost in task-switching and boosts efficiency. Did you know for example that every time you switch tasks, you lose 25 minutes! If you are batching your similar tasks, you lose less time overall.  

  1. Focus on Three Tasks Per Day

Additionally, I find it’s extremely important to focus on just three main tasks per day to keep the momentum going. I find that if you have too many items on my to-do list for the day, I actually get way less done and I feel overwhelmed when I don’t cross them all off.

  1. Stop Scrolling Socials and Checking Emails Constantly

Another aspect I address with my clients is the temptation of social media and email distractions. Setting designated times to check social media and limiting email access to a few specific slots a day can prevent unnecessary time drainage. Outsourcing tasks you dislike and prioritizing tasks you enjoy are also key practices in reclaiming your time.

Julie’s transformation within a week was fantastic. By implementing these strategies and making small but impactful changes to her habits, she was able to overcome overwhelm and get back on track with her work tasks.

Stealing back time in your workday requires a conscious effort to optimise how you use the hours available to you. By implementing strategies like task batching, time auditing, and prioritisation, you can take control of your time and increase your productivity. 

Remember, it’s not about finding more time; it’s about making the most of the time you have.




For a copy of Emma’s book, ‘Go-getter: Raise your mojo, shift your mindset and thrive’ – https://www.emmamcqueen.com.au/book/

Read The Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Emma: One of the things that some of my clients say to me
is, Emma, I just don't have enough time. There's not enough hours in the
day. If you could just wave your magic wand and give me another hour,
that would be amazing. And I wrote about this in my first book. There is
no more time. So it's how we use it that's so, so important.
[00:00:20] Have you noticed that when you're doing something that you
don't love, how slow time goes? And when you're doing something that
you do love, how quickly it goes. I'm a roller skater from way back. And
when I go to the roller skating rink and, do a lesson or roller skate for an
hour, the time goes like that.
[00:00:41] It's so quick. It's because I'm loving what I'm doing. I'm so
engrossed in what I'm doing. It's the same when you're playing to your
strengths, right? You don't notice the time fly. I'm not into this, but some
of my clients love an Excel spreadsheet. And I know, I know for a fact
they get lost for hours in spreadsheets.
[00:01:00] Good on them. That's awesome. I want to tell you about one
of my clients. We'll call her Julie. Julie had a session with me. And she
turned up and was feeling very overwhelmed. When we unpacked what
was happening for her, she felt like she was running out of hours in the
day. She wasn't able to get to all the things that she needed to.
[00:01:22] She had a list as long as her arm that she needed to do. And
she had a backlog of tasks for delivery. So we talked about what was
happening for her and we talked about what her routines were in the
morning, what it looked like for her to get work done. And one of the
things that we decided is we had to look through her diary.
[00:01:42] And we decided that she just didn't have enough room in her
diary to actually do all the delivery. Pretty important. I also asked Julie if
she would do an audit for me, a little audit over the next week using
something called Toggle. I'm sure of you who Use Toggle, know what it's
[00:02:00] like. And if you haven't used Toggle, it's basically a time
management tracking tool.

[00:02:05] It's amazing to see where you're spending your time, where
you're wasting your time and where you could use your time better. So I
asked her to do that as well. I am going to come back to Julie because I
think that Julie's not unusual. I have a lot of clients who at times feel
overwhelmed about the things that they need to get done.
[00:02:26] And I thought today I'd just share with you a few tips and a
few things that I do that help me with my time management. First of all, I
batch. sometimes this can be seen as unpopular, but I batch similar
tasks together. So for instance, if I am in my email, I will do a stack of
emails. If I am on socials, I do a sack of socials.
[00:02:48] If I'm in delivery, I batch that as well. Batching means you're
not switching from task to task. And every time you switch a task, you
lose 25 minutes. Did you know that? Oh my goodness. We don't want to
lose time. We don't want to lose time. We want to make time work for us.
So we batch what we can. I work with three things, three things a day.
[00:03:08] I have a master to do list at the beginning of the week, but
each day I'm like, what are the three things that I need to get done? And
those three things normally get done first thing in the morning because
I'm freshest. I've got good willpower and I've got good decision skills
then. is a question for you.
[00:03:24] Do you find that sometimes you work better in better, So for
me, I get up at 5. 30 in the morning and my sweet spot is between 8 and
10. That's my sweet spot. For some of my other clients, it's between 10
and 12. And so, you just need to find out what is your sweet spot. The
other thing that my clients complain about is socials.
[00:03:47] So I've got two tips. We can fall down the social media trap.
You jump on socials to check something and then all of a sudden, you're
down a rabbit hole and you've lost an hour. You need to make sure that
you've popped in times in [00:04:00] your diary to check socials and then
you need to get off. The same is with email.
[00:04:05] The amount of people I speak to who start their day on email.
No way, man. Don't start your day on email. I don't open my email until
about 10 in the morning. The reason I don't open my email is because
there's so many distractions in that thing. And so I would strongly
recommend that you open email three times a day.

[00:04:24] And that is it. Don't sit there with it open, turn your
notifications off. Don't have it pinging in the background. I just think it is a
absolute time waster. The other thing you can do is outsource the things
that you really don't like to do, and we also need to prioritize the things
that we love to do.
[00:04:43] The thing about Julie. Was she came into that session feeling
overwhelmed. I asked her to let me know in a week, to do a bit of an
audit and to tell me what things that she had noticed. The things that she
had noticed in that week is that she wasn't prioritizing her work. and we
knew that from our conversation, but also she was spending a lot of time
[00:05:05] So instead of, coming into the office, she had an office
coming into the office. She would whack the kettle on and then she
would. Jump on a news website and read the news and then get
distracted and go down a rabbit hole. So we had to almost change her
habits. So when she went and popped the kettle on, she could only
come back and start work.
[00:05:25] No emails, no rabbit warrens of news. We also got her to
create a spreadsheet of the backlog of tasks and I helped her be
accountable to getting those, the backlog of tasks done. Within a week
she was sorted. She was back on track. It doesn't take much, but
sometimes you just need someone to go, Hey, what is it?
[00:05:43] Let's work through it. The question for you is how do you steal
back time? What do you do? Are you super efficient with your time and
therefore you do not even need to listen to this podcast or are you like,
Oh yeah, I might need to do those things. I think it makes you [00:06:00]
feel far more in control when you're not checking your emails and you
don't feel like you're chained to your desk.
[00:06:04] So today we've talked about batching. We've talked about
outsourcing. We've talked about prioritization and we've talked about not
being held to ransom by our email. Which ones might you try? Let us
know. I would love to hear, and I will be cheering you on.