Dr Sally Ann Law is a trained personal and executive life coach and has given us tips on how we can make the most of our time and become more productive.

Dr Sally Ann Law: Make the most of your time

Dr Sally Ann Law: Make the most of your time

1. Keep a time diary for a week. Note down what you are actually spending your time on. Recognise where your time is being well-spent and wasted; what's surprising, what's shocking - you may be wasting your time on activities that can easily be swapped for something more productive.

2. Make a list of tasks you keep meaning to do, that you wish you had done or makes you anxious not to have done. Use this list to set goals throughout the year. For example, making a solid financial plan for your retirement - something that's too important to ignore

3. Make a plan day-by-day to drop or reduce at least one ' time wasting' activity and add in at least one valuable activity you feel has been missing

4. Encourage one or more family members or friends to take the challenge with you - it's great to have that added support from loved ones

5. Make a firm commitment to see someone important to you at least once a week, even if it is just for a quick coffee and a catch up

6. Schedule at least one hour per week to make progress towards an important goal that you have set yourself. This could include a fitness goal, getting on top of your finances or a professional aim

7. Introduce some rules for yourself or your family about when you will turn off technology like during mealtimes, when out for a drink with friends or after 10pm so you can enjoy some quality time with loved ones

We also asked her a few questions on how she makes the most of her time and how we can waste less time on things that don't matter and see the importance of what does matter.

1. So first off could you tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to follow this career path as a life coach?

I am a psychologist so have always been interested in people and people's lives. I used to work as a research scientist for a think tank in America where I looked at how technology affected people at work. After my children were born I returned to the UK and wanted to start a new career that was more about working with individuals and helping them make changes that would really make a difference to their lives. I chose to become a coach for that reason.

2. You've given your top tips on making the most of your time but what is the most important thing people can do to waste less time?

I think a lot of the time we are not really conscious about the amount of time we waste each day because we don't stop to think about it. However, research by Scottish Widows has highlighted just how much time we admit we waste each day -- over 80 mins in fact -- checking our Facebook feed, taking selfies and checking on others' lives online. I think the best way to stop ourselves wasting precious time is to be much more aware of how we're spending our day. I'd suggest keeping a time diary for a week, noting down exactly how you spend your day. You'll soon see a pattern emerging and the 'time sharks' will become very clear. You can then make a plan to reduce the activities that are not truly valuable to you and replace them with ones that are -- like spending time with family and friends, or having time to do something for yourself that really counts.

3. What would you say is the biggest waste of people's time?

According to the research, almost half of us say deciding what to wear is the biggest time waster each day. So surely a better idea would be to plan what you'll wear the night before and spend those extra 10 minutes in bed!

4. What do you do with your time? How do you make the most of it?

I try to make sure that, as well as planning my work commitments, I also schedule activities into each day that are valuable to me. I'm lucky I love my work, but I also love spending quality time with my family, playing tennis, reading and watching catch-up TV, so I have to make sure I set time aside for all those activities, too. Over two thirds of us say that making time for hobbies is important, so it's vital we make room for them in our diaries.

5. Do you think that we are bigger time wasters than we used to be because of the control of social media and advanced technology?

I don't think anyone would argue that technology in general and social media in particular take up a lot of our time these days - in fact, the Scottish Widows research revealed that Brits waste over an hour reach day on self-inflicted tasks they admit are a waste of time - that's 21 days a year! However, we have to remember that technology is not really the villain here, it's up to us to control how we use it.

6. Why do you think people browse for things they can't have?

I think loads of us spend time browsing for things they can't afford or even don't really want as it's an easy way to take a quick break from reality for a while. There's nothing wrong with that at all, as long as it doesn't become a habit that prevents us from doing other things that we have to do or even want to do.

7. A colleague told me that she once lost her car in a car park, why do you think it is that people don't pay attention to their possessions or things around them?

I think the fact that so many of us say one of our biggest time wasters is looking for our car in the car park reflects how busy and stressed we are. We are often distracted and thinking about something else, rather than being in the moment and paying attention to what we're doing and what's going on around us. To avoid this happening to you while you're trying to get your Christmas shopping done, use that technology to good effect - take a picture of level and bay!

8. Why is spending time with other people more precious than technology?

While some technology use can give us a welcome bit of down time, we have to think about what's going to be important to us in the longer-term. The time we spend with family and friends is likely to give us far happier memories in the future than the hours we spend playing computer games or looking at cat videos online.

9. How important is it to find lasting happiness and contentment with our lives?

The more in touch we can be each day with what really matters to us, the happier we will be. The happier we feel each day, the fewer regrets we'll have as we get older.

10. Finally what is next for you?

I plan to continue with my work which I love, and also to keep making sure I spend time doing all the other things I love, too. My latest challenge is re-learning French and that keeps me quite busy! The other thing on my to-do list - that has been sitting there for a while! - is tackling my financial plan for my retirement. It has always felt like a big obstacle to overcome but I was recently introduced to a great website called Change Your Life in an Hour, which has made it feel considerably more achievable! If you've been putting off thinking about your financial future, I'd recommend it as an easy first step.


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