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How to live faster

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Never waste time again with our guide to trimming the fat of your day-to-day life


Be tech agile

Belinda Waldock, author of Being Agile in Business, shows budding entrepreneurs how to get ahead fast

Fast

"A fresh approach in the tech industry is agility: developers would go to the customer and be told what they wanted, shut themselves away to make it, then take it back to the customer, and there’d be a fallout because it wasn’t exactly what the customer asked for. Although you deliver what they ask for, the world has moved on and the customer isn’t satisfied with the original idea. The solution has been to move to being continuously developed and released, instead of being one discrete release – embracing imperfection, and developing products in tandem with developing consumer demands. Tracking online has opened a huge range of new possibilities; you can put stuff out and see who is using what. The detail is terrific.

"Swarming problems is another idea – if a problem crops up, you swarm it to release that block. Everybody jumps in. You can maximise people’s skillsets and bring inventive solutions to the problem. People can often find it fun and fresh. If it’s a difficult task, you don’t want to just dump it on someone and let it fester."


Commute at light speed

Parkour star James Kingston on how urban shortcuts can kickstart your day

Fast

"The key to free running is to make yourself strong. Not just your core, upper body or lower body – everything.

"Start small and work your way up. It’s all gradual. One of my goals is to get rid of fear and self-consciousness – to be in control and in the moment. You can always do it better without overthinking it – it’s about being confident.

"The hardest part is getting confident during the early stages – there really isn’t much difference for your body if you fall 100ft or 1,000ft, so crossing that fear threshold is crucial."

James has just helped to launch EE’s new 4GEE Action Cam


Delegate

Jane Sunley, of It’s Never OK to Kiss the Interviewer, on delegating

Lots of people struggle with delegation because they believe they can do it better themselves, don’t want to lose control or don’t have time to stop, explain and then support someone else to do the task.

To delegate properly, and not offload, the task must be properly explained, with understanding checked – what the task is, why it’s necessary, what needs to be done and the timescales involved.

Agree what good work looks like, what resources are available and how reporting back will work.

Then leave it well alone, apart from agreed contact or, when asked for, support. Do the more important jobs on your to-do list.


Break down your workload

Jannine Oates, of Inspirit Learning Partners, on finishing tasks

Fast

"Recognise that you’re procrastinating, and warm up with low-priority tasks. There’s no problem waiting to be in the ‘right’ mood.

"Break the task down into manageable parts, and ensure you have the right tools to complete each part, stage by stage. Gather information and put it somewhere that is easy for you to access.

"Commit to a task by writing down ‘by the end of today I will have...’ and fill in your goal, then ‘I will reward myself with…’ and add a reward. Everyone needs something to look forward to."


Negotiate efficiently

The School of Life’s David Baker on deals

Fast

Start with points you agree on. Going through them sets a good tone for the discussion. You both want a resolution.

Some people like to start with the points that are most important to them, but that means you can get stuck quickly. I like to go in reverse order of importance (to me). Making early concessions is a strength, not weakness.

Know what you can sacrifice and what you can’t. If they really can’t pay you the salary you need, the job isn’t for you.

When the other person is speaking, listen to them with total attention. If you stop thinking about what you want for a moment, you may find a way of accommodating what they need. 

Stay calm, treat each other with respect, and stick to the point. This isn’t the place to bring up old disagreements.

If you can’t come to an agreement, take a break and sleep on it. You may both realise that some things are less important than you first thought.

David Baker is working with Samsung to help launch the Samsung Galaxy Tab A


Accelerate your team

Richard Branson on how to be a supercharged leader

Fast

"The best leaders pay attention and value other’s perspectives. One of the most important phrases a leader can say is: ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ Workplaces where open conversations are encouraged are generally more successful in uncovering and putting in place strategies and plans that have a big impact. Transparency and trust are critical to effective working – and getting jobs done more efficiently. 

"Equally, leaders should lead from the front. When we embarked on the Virgin Atlantic journey, my mentor at the time, Sir Freddie Laker, gave me some of the best advice I have ever received. He told me: ‘Be visible.’ Since then, I’ve learned that a leader who leads by example is more likely to gain the support of their team, and therefore draw out the best in their people.

"Just as good leaders value the opinions of their people, they also value their skill sets. One of the earliest things any leader should learn is the art of delegation. Find people who are better than you at specific focus areas. Not only will it give your people a vested interest in their work, but it will free you up to think about the bigger picture.

"On your quest to get it right, remember that perfection is unattainable. Don’t waste time chasing a perfect product or service or way of doing things. When leaders believe they’ve accomplished something, they tend to sit back while others catch up. There is always room for improvement. Innovation is an endless quest, and teams who realise this work more efficiently.

"Manage your smartphone; do not let it manage you. Many people check their smartphones throughout meetings and during off-hours. This is not good for concentration, and has a negative impact on decision making. Use it only in bursts: check emails for an hour or so and then put it away so you can focus on the task at hand.

"Finally, it’s so important to have fun – and that should come from the top down, to create an environment that’s pleasant to work in. People are no different from flowers; if you water them, they flourish, if you are not nice to them, they shrivel up. Treat those around you with respect and dignity and they will thrive and use their time productively."

Find out more about workplace wellbeing at virgin.com/disruptors


Outsource your life

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, on how to make the most of your time

Fast

1. The most important thing is not to delegate things that shouldn’t be done in the first place. You want to make sure you eliminate as much noise as possible. Separate out the critical few tasks from the trivial many, and stop doing as much as possible. The best way to waste time is to do things that didn’t need to be done in the first place.

2. Use technology. This can be as simple as ordering groceries online to be delivered to your door, rather than wasting time standing in line at the store. That’s one very simple example. Once you’ve eliminated as much as possible, automate as much as possible – paperless statements, and so on. There is an amazing amount of chaff than can be set to replenish itself – to go back to the groceries example, it’s possible to set up regular deliveries of essentials, which is obviously preferable than inefficiently leaving the house every time you need toothpaste.

3. When it comes to outsourcing your actual life tasks, start by working out what your hourly rate is – add up your working weeks every year, minus holiday time, then it’s simple maths to work out how much you earn every hour. That helps you work out what isn’t worth your time and what is. If you pay someone to wait in line for you at the Apple store, chances are it’s a good investment – unless you enjoy that kind of thing.

4. Once you’ve decided what to outsource and what makes economic sense, there are all sorts of companies, both in the UK and abroad, that offer services on everything from graphic design to data management to creating spreadsheets. Brickworkindia.com, for example, offers what it calls ‘remote executive assistants’, but there are many companies you can find online that specialise in all sorts of things. Shop around, and find out what suits your needs.

5. One thing to avoid is outsourcing for the sake of it – people can get really into it and end up spending as much time co-ordinating their outsourcing as they would have spent doing the task itself. It’s not about not wasting any time – if you’re having fun, it’s not a waste of time – just don’t confuse that with being productive at work. I love to just hang out. You do these other things so that you can have fun, but you don’t want to confuse the two. If you get your priorities right, you don’t ever have to waste a second.

Tim Ferriss’s podcast is at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast


Sprint like Gemili

Need a running boost? WE asked 200m European champion Adam Gemili for his 10-step guide

Fast

1. Get bigger and more powerful

“Arms are important for sprinting as that’s where your power comes from. But they need to be strong and mobile. I bench a little bit and do pull-ups alongside cleans and squats to keep things ticking over.”

 2. Have a strong core

“When you’re racing, you want to be as upright as possible for your breathing. Your core, along with your spine and diaphragm, support that. For this I do a lot of planks and crunches, and loads of abs circuits.”

 3. Keep your legs in tip-top condition

“It may sound obvious, but most sprinters’ injuries are leg-based. So do a lot of leg conditioning in the gym and get your rest.”

 4. Be more efficient

“A lot of this comes from the gym work, but the stronger you are the more technically proficient you’ll be in a race. It’s not just getting from A to B as quickly as you can, it’s getting from A to B as efficiently as you can.”

 5. Put as much power into the track as you can

“Punch your knees forward and get your feet in the ground. Make sure you’re wearing the right track spikes when you race.”

 6. Get your tactics right

“With the 100m you don’t have time to think about it. The 200m is more tactical, you have to figure out how to run the bend, how to come off the bend, when to relax, and when to really put down the force.”

 7. Practise again and again

“Film your sprint or get a coach to have a look at what specific aspects you can work on, whether it’s the right shin angle or the right head or body position.”

 8. But don’t sprint repeatedly

“Volume does count, but it’s more about technique. I only do between 10 and 15 sprints a day.”

 9. Watch your diet

“Protein helps recovery. Whatever weight you are, you’ll be carrying that on the track. Fat doesn’t fly, so no crisps or chocolate.”

 10. Run with a smile on your face

“The more relaxed you are, the quicker you’ll run. Work hard and have confidence.”

The Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games take place at the Olympic Park on 24-26 July; britishathletics.org.uk


Lunchtime gym classes

Easy-to-find sessions that won’t have you late back to the office

Primal Series

Covers five classes: Strength, Core, Renew, Perform and Condition. Benefits include muscle development and faster recovery.

lafitness.co.uk

GT30

Half-hour, high-intensity, bodyweight classes with the goal of building muscle as well as burning off last night’s curry.

dwfitnessclubs.com

Team Workout Freestyle

This 30-minute class promises to be different every time you take part, and goes big on functional training.

fitnessfirst.co.uk

Zuu

Exercises based on animal movements (ie bears, iguanas, gorillas etc) to build strength and burn up to 400 calories in 20 minutes.

virginactive.co.uk


Take cold showers

Peter Lemon on a quick clean-up

Fast

A cold shower has been proven to burn fat, boost recovery and even strengthen your immune system and circulation. It also has the added bonus of getting you out of the shower quicker than you ever thought possible.

academyoffitness professionals.com


The smart, fast way to book a break

Amy Cumine of Lastminute.com lets you in on the booking secrets

Fast

Know when the right time is to book – you can save money and get a deal fast by staying up late or getting up early. On a Sunday morning, there’s less competition from business customers – they’re the ones who push up prices.

If you want to fly to somewhere popular with business travellers, you’ll get much better deals on weekends, rather than weekdays.

If you’re flying short haul, check business class. In summer time and at Christmas economy is chockablock, so look at premium seats if you need to book at short notice – it can be less expensive than you might think.

There’s a quick turnaround booking approach called opaque hotels – there are some websites where hotels put rooms that aren’t booked up a few days or the night before they’re available. They don’t specify which hotel the rooms are in, but they’ll tell you the general area, and you’ll make crazy savings. You can book high-end hotels for the next day.

lastminute.com


Take speed snaps

Photographer Paul Reiffer on getting a shot supersonically

Preparation is key – you don’t want to mess up the perfect shot with a fogged lens. Get the biggest memory card you can, charge your battery, and you won’t waste time when it matters.

Know your camera, and don’t be afraid of auto mode. Most cameras will have auto modes that do and don’t use the flash – snobby photographers sneer at them, but if time is short they can work wonders. If you’re trying to be fast, it’s not the time to mess with aperture settings.

Start with your widest lens – it’s easier to make a composition work starting wide and moving in.

Use the continuous shooting mode – taking a large number of shots in a burst makes it more likely you’ll capture the precise shot you need when you have limited time.  

paulreiffer.com


Shave sharply

Dan Gregory, founder of grooming Mecca Man Made, on banishing bristles briskly

Fast

Wet your face with warm water and apply a shaving oil. Work it into the beard for 10 seconds in a circular motion.

Grab your razor, with a new blade in, and start at the sideburn of whichever side you write with. In one stroke work down from the sideburn to the jaw, then from the jaw to the chin in another glide, then the moustache in small glides.

Repeat on the other side. The oil will provide glide for you to do this. Splash cold water on your face, and you’re good to go.

manmadelondon.com 


Be a supreme speed-dater

Dating guru James Preece on how to find ‘the one’, quickly

The key is to treat everyone as if they’re the most amazing person you’ve ever met. If you make them feel special, they’ll be attracted to you.

Everyone asks the same questions – ‘Where do you come from?’, ‘Where do you live?’ Try to make them laugh, keep them stimulated. Make sure they remember you – for the right reasons.

Think of it not as a first date, but a third. Pretend you’ve met before and you’ll relax more. You’d be surprised how many people waste time introducing themselves with their job.

Dress like somebody who’s going places. Put a suit on, wash your hair, wear a nice watch. It sounds basic, but so many get it wrong. I see too many people show up in horrible beards and they shuffle around, and you think, “Who is this person?”

jamespreece.com


Come back pithily

Comedian Andrew Maxwell on good banter

Fast

"Faced with a heckler, you might think you need a witty putdown immediately. You don’t – just ask a question. The heckler thinks what he’ll say is so good it will be the end of comedy.

"A follow-up question throws them. That said, if they get a laugh, it’s magnanimous to let them have it.

"Regarding panel shows, if you have nothing funny to say, go provocative – be it ridiculous, dirty or irrelevant. Inspire your fellow panellists."

Andrew Maxwell will be performing at Latitude Festival; latitudefestival.com


Tweet succinctly

Master tweeter James Martin on how to make your point in as few characters as possible

There’s a misconception that tweets, being short, are quick to write. I find myself working on one for a long time and taking out any unnecessary words. You want the minimum words to get the idea across – that can mean adding words to take them out somewhere else, or to make it funnier.

There are tropes and formats you can default to. With topical jokes, there are themes that will repeat. You notice patterns. Say if someone admired dies, you can talk about that in relation to how Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins are still alive.

You have a very short window between a news story breaking and the first jokes, good or bad. You need to be current, but a good joke will do better than a basic one you do really fast.

@pundamentalism


Crack crosswords quickly

Alan Connor, crossword blogger for The Guardian, on how to dominate the tiles like a muthaf*cka

Fast

Solve clues that give the start of a word; they will help you decipher the rest.

Find multiword answers first; their rhythm is easier to decipher. This rhythm can be found by trying out possibilities aloud.

Start in the bottom right-hand corner. Champ of The Times National Crossword Championship John Sykes believes setters write these last, and are easier.

Don’t assume that the most obvious answer is correct. It’s unlikely to be.

Alan Connor is author of Two Girls, One On Each Knee: The Puzzling, Playful World Of The Crossword

(Image: Rex, Shutterstock)

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