This 3-Step Method Will Free Up Time and Declutter Your Day

Whether you’re a part-time employee, a stay-at-home mum or dad, or a CEO, you’ve likely experienced a day that gets away from you. You might’ve started off productive, ticking things off your list, but then gotten side-tracked. Or you might’ve failed to get in a work groove completely, accomplishing nothing at all the entire day.

Leading productivity expert and author of book The 1 Day Refund, Donna McGeorge, says the issue is not finding balance. “People tell me all the time that they feel out of control or overwhelmed and are worried about failing at the most important things,” she says.

“We need to get out of this vicious cycle and into a more positive one. When it comes to finding our refund, we need to look at both our mental and our physical capacity — our brain space and our living space. And we need to find balance in both our professional and our personal lives in order to access more capacity.”

Productivity advice
Image: Donna McGeorge

McGeorge says the most important things to understand about balance is to recognise you are in control of your own destiny and to not let others’ agendas of needs overshadow your own. “You have the ability to make choices and set boundaries,” she says.

To give yourself more capacity, therefore decluttering your day and freeing up time, she suggests following this three-step method:


“Too often people operate from a position of default. They are on autopilot. I think it’s important to clearly define aspects of your life, including why you do the work you do.  Can you define your end goals, your purpose your reason for doing it? This can also work for relationships, activities and the people you spend your time and energy with. It’s possible to have a job you don’t like if you can clearly define why you are doing it.”


“Older-style computers used to store data all over a hard disk and, from time to time, you would need to run a defrag program that would take all that data and condense it, freeing up larger chunks of space on the disk and making the computer run more efficiently.

“You can defrag your calendar — only do meetings between 10am and 3pm, leaving good-sized chunks of space in the morning and afternoon to do your real work. When it comes to tasks, defragging is really batching.

“Putting similar tasks together and doing them all at once. Doing email is a great example of being fragmented. Dipping in and out every couple of minutes all day is not effective. Doing email for 10 mins only every hour is better, or maybe only looking at your inbox three times per day.”


“We usually associate ‘delegating’ with work-related activities, whereby we pass tasks ‘down’ to people lower on the pecking order. And that can sometimes be true, however, I prefer to have people run their to-do lists through the ‘me or not me filter’, and if it’s not me then who? To a large extent, it comes down to trust. Do you trust other people to do it?

“And we should be doing this with personal admin too. Often in families, there is one person who does all the admin tasks.  If this is you, you might try sharing the load with other people in the family, particularly as kids get older and it’s a good ‘adulting’ lesson.

“In my career, I have thought about delegation in a couple of ways. Firstly, is there someone better equipped to do this thing? So, I outsource or give the work to someone better skilled. Secondly, is this a development opportunity for someone? By me hanging on to it, it’s denying someone a growth and learning opportunity.

“Our lack of delegation is often because we have blockers in our heads. Things like, I can do it faster, or better.  Or the old “by the time I explain it I may as well have done it myself. Check-in for things that are repetitive or routine — that’s a great starting point.”

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