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6 Ways to Wring Extra Time From Your Day

Find an extra hour or two to work or spend time with your family.

Time is money, the old adage goes.

If you consider yourself a busy person, you probably don't feel that you have enough time to do everything that you want. You may have found yourself saying you need more than 24 hours in a day or you wish you had eight days in a week to accomplish all the things you need to do.

This is especially true for those who are paid by the hour, according to a

study last year by the Stanford School of Business.

The study found that workers who bill or are paid by the hour can easily place a monetary value on their time, making the opportunity costs of spending it idly much clearer. In fact, "lawyers watching their kids play soccer admitted to mentally ticking away lost income for each minute they stood on the sidelines."

Whether you feel you need more time to work to make more money or to simply spend more time with your family, the fact remains that there will never be more than 24 hours in each day. The solution is to find an extra few hours in your day that you have been wasting.

Here are six places to look:

1. Your Commute

Your commute can be a huge time waster, especially if you live in a congested area that requires sitting in stop-and-go traffic each morning and evening. The easiest way to gain some extra time is to leave for work an hour earlier to avoid the traffic rush. This should allow you to drive at the speed limit the entire way and can cut anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour each way from your commute.

Arriving early to work has the added benefit of quiet. During the early hours of each day, you are still fresh with the energy to get as much done as possible. Arriving early will allow you to spend a full hour uninterrupted before others arrive. You can also get a good jump on the important tasks you have for the day.

Another option, carpooling, will allow you to shave time off the commute by driving in faster lanes. It will also allow you to get some extra reading or other work done on the days that you aren't the driver. In a similar way, the bus or other mass transit may save you time even if it takes a bit longer.

If a good portion of your job is done in front of a computer, youshould ask your boss if you can telecommute. Whilethis won't be possible every day, it could work for a day or two eachweek, which would cut the full commute time out those days. Telecommuting is becoming more common, so it doesn't hurt to ask.

2. Television

TV can be a huge time waster, costing both time and

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money. If the average American quit watching, he or she would gain four hours a day. Most people, however, won't be willing to quit TV altogether. Restricting yourself to an hour or two maximum each day will still free up a couple of hours to do other things.

In addition, there are ways to reduce the amount of time you spend in front of the TV even when you do watch. Getting TiVo so that you can skip commercials is one way to reduce time spent watching TV by 15 minutes or more per show. It also allows you to watch the shows when you want, rather than having to stop something you are doing to watch.

3. Multitask

Learn to multitask where appropriate. For example, if you insist on watching TV, get into the habit of folding clothes, ironing, doing light exercises, making lists or any engaging in another activity that can easily be done while watching TV.

Most TV shows will allow you to multitask quite easily. By doing these things while watching TV, you will free up some time elsewhere in the day. If you like to keep up on the latest books, listen to audio books on your commute or study a foreign language.

4. Combine Tasks

Get into the habit of combining tasks that need to be done together when appropriate. If you need to go grocery shopping, stop at the cleaners, visit the drugstore and fill up the gas tank one day, combine them all into one outing instead of individual trips at different times. This will mean you need to drive from your house and back one time, instead of four.

5. Get Organized

Probably the biggest time saver will be for you to simply get organized. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) the average executive

wastes six weeks per year to disorganization and the average person spends 150 hours a year just looking for information on their computer and desk at work.

Add in all the time wasted at home due to the same disorganization, and you can save yourself more than an hour a day as well as a lot of


6. Invest in Your Productivity

If you do a lot of reading, take a speed reading class. If you spend most of your day on the computer, take a typing class to improve your speed and accuracy. While these classes will initially take some extra time, your increased productivity will give you much more free time in the future.

Reviewing how you currently spend your time should yield a few extra hours each day, if you are willing to make changes to your current habits and improve your productivity.

Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs