Guest post by Devon Smiley

I know, I know. If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. Articles that advertise that they’ll help you boost your productivity to find more time in the day. Hacks and tips, tricks and tools to help you maximize those precious minutes, hours and days.

Some of those productivity hacks may even work.

But you don’t need some special trick to save time. You just need to ask for it.

Speaking up and asking for what we want, need and deserve is essential to success in business and in life – after all, no one is just going to hand us what we’re looking for whether that’s money, or time.

Today I’m sharing three ideas for things you can ask for that will help boost your timebank.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Pinterest

Save 10 Minutes By…

Asking for help with dinner prep

Meals have a funny way of coming back again and again – we just finish eating and it seems like mere hours later we’re at it again, prepping for another one.

The biggest risk to our productivity isn’t so much the actual time spent in getting dinner ready, it’s that we’ve been interrupted while in the zone and working on another task. Each time we put a task down, switch gears, and then pick that task up again later we lose time getting our brains back on track and (hopefully) re-finding that flow.

Minimize that risk of lost time by asking for help, so that you can dedicate an extra 10 minutes to wrapping up what you’re working on before transitioning into chef mode.

  • Ask your partner or a capable kid to get the prep started by chopping the veg, getting the water boiling or setting the table so you can wrap up work. Many hands make light work. 
  • Ask a friend to join you for an afternoon of cooking and meal prep so that you’re both ready to go for the week ahead. You’ll be minimizing the time you need for cooking each day, so you can invest it in a work task instead.

Not keen on getting help in the kitchen? Look for other places in your day where you’re interrupted mid-task and brainstorm some ways you can ask for support that will allow you to avoid those disruptions. Help with pick-ups/drop-offs? Getting the shopping done? Asking that you not be interrupted until 6:15pm on the dot?

Save 1 Hour By…

Asking to meet virtually instead of in person

Depending on where you live, asking to swap in-person meetings for virtual ones could wind up saving you far more than 1 hour (and a nearly immeasurable amount of frustration…).

There are some circumstances where meeting face-to-face is essential – like kicking off or closing a big negotiation for example. But status updates? Weekly check-ins? On-going coaching? Technology can save you a lot of time and stress.

  • Ask your client or partner to meet with you on Skype, Zoom or over the phone. If they’re worried it won’t be as effective, ask for a trial period – the next 3 meetings – to see how things go. 
  • If in-person meetings are still essential, you can ask to meet in different location, or at a different time. Sometimes there are traffic sweet spots during the day that drastically reduce commute times – or this could be a great opportunity to try meeting at a new coffee shop half-way between your offices.

Not sure that asking to move meetings is for you? Win back time by looking for opportunities in your day when you’re either stuck with wasted time, or time that may be productive for things like listening to podcasts, but isn’t billable time. What can you ask for that would change that?

Save 1 Week By…

Asking for support from an expert

Great news! You have some innate talents and abilities that make you supremely skilled and efficient at certain tasks. The downside? There are a lot of things in business that we’ll need to do that don’t have a place on that list.

Undoubtedly we’re happiest and most productive when we’re in that zone of genius. Work flows and we earn revenue. If you’re a nutritionist, this may mean that your time is best spent working on client meal plans, creating educational material or leading webinars… not fighting with the font sizing on a pdf you’re creating, or trying to cobble together CSS code for tweaks to your website. Make an ask that will save you the time and frustration.

  • Ask for a referral from a business friend or someone whose work you admire. Who is their go-to? Do they have a copywriter, developer, designer or video editor they trust?  
  • Have a service provider you’re keen on? Ask them for a consult call so that you can better understand how they’ll be able to help. You can even ask for specific services, terms and prices in order to fit your needs and budget.

Not quite ready to hand over responsibility for a task to someone else? Tap into the tools or strategies you could use to streamline your work.

Is that a new system for organizing contacts so you’re not hunting down post-it notes? A tried-and-tested method of batching? Maybe even a training or course you can purchase to boost your skills. The important thing is to realize you’re working outside of your core genius, and then asking for what you need to minimize that misplaced time.

10 minutes. 1 hour. 1 week.

Time you can win back by asking for help, for advice, for changes.

When you’re tempted to skip these asks – because it seems too difficult or the benefits too small to be worthwhile consider this:

If you magically received an extra hour today…could you find something to do with it?

Take a well-deserved nap? Complete a task that’s been languishing? Help out a friend in need? Sit on the sofa and stare and the wall in absolute quiet?

If the answer is yes – that you would be able to fill that hour with something that felt good to you, that scratched an itch – then it’s worth making the ask to win back that time in your day.


Devon Smiley is a Negotiation Consultant for entrepreneurs, startups and professionals who are sick of settling, and ready to go after what they want, need and deserve.  She’s distilled nearly 15 years and $5 billion of negotiation experience into accessible and actionable guidance that helps you build the skill set you need to #maketheask with confidence. Website: DevonSmiley.com    Instagram: @DevonMSmiley

Pin It on Pinterest