IF YOU were suddenly given the gift of two extra weeks each year to do anything you wanted, how would you spend this time?

What would you want to accomplish? Would you increase your efforts on an existing project or start something new? Or even use it as restorative personal time?

The good news is, this gift is not a fantasy.

Eliminating just 15 wasted minutes each day adds up to 91 extra hours a year, which is more than two full work weeks.

Here are some simple ways to achieve this “miracle”:

Efficiency vs effectiveness

Do not confuse activity with accomplishment.

Management expert Peter Drucker defines the two words like this: “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.”

There is no point doing well what you should not be doing at all.

Make the hard decisions about what you want and need to do. Then do them, and do them right.

You have probably heard someone say: “I don’t have time to get organised” or even “I don’t have time to do it correctly right now, but I’ll come back later and fix it”, as if the future holds limitless time to undo and redo something done poorly.

Be realistic

Your calendar is probably full as you try to squeeze in everything you need and hope to do.

As hard as it may seem, do not overbook your schedule. Be realistic! Underbooking will actually allow you to achieve more.

Block-book big tasks

Some projects cannot be picked up and put down easily.

Block-book your high-priority items.

Multitask

Combining or piggybacking tasks makes you more efficient:

* While you are holding on the phone, sign letters or cheques or mark magazine articles you want to read later;

* In small buildings, do not wait for the lift, take the stairs. It is good exercise, and you will get there sooner;

* Have a meditation break instead of a coffee break;

* Listen to motivational talks on the go while commuting or travelling; and

* When you plan to meet someone, do it in a place where you can accomplish something while you are waiting.

Confirm

Save yourself hours of wasted time by confirming all appointments and flights.

It takes time to confirm, but the payback can be enormous.

Do it now

One of the biggest time-wasters is waiting to do something until it does not matter any more.

You lose more than just time. You surrender control to others or to random chance. And you sacrifice your two-week time bonus.

Nobody’s perfect

Some things have to be done perfectly, and some do not.

So do not strive for perfection on little details that do not matter. People are usually paid to get results, not to be perfect.

Decide. Do it. And do not waste your time on regrets or rehashing decisions, justifying bad ones or salvaging poor time investments that ought to be written off.

Use the past as a guide for the future, not as an excuse for not dealing with it.

Congratulations! You have just saved yourself weeks of time. What will you do with it?