You’re late for your meeting… and your phone is at home, your wallet’s missing and only your small children/dog/grandma have a clue where your work badge might be at the moment.

If you’re time-poor, you should really make time to read this article. To find out how to stay focused and get organised, we went to question and answer site Quora for some tips on the best day-to-day time-saving lifehacks.

Fives and notebooks

Designer and entrepreneur Marius Ursache wears headphones to stay on task and believes sleep, food and exercise can triple output. “The biggest cure for procrastination is to set your goal not to finish a scary, big, hairy task, but to just work 5 minutes on it. You'll find out that most (of the) time it continues well beyond the 5 minutes,” he said.

Oh, and write everything down.  “Your memory sucks. Get everything out of your head even if you're a genius. Write it down in a notebook, put it in your to do-list app on your phone, talk to Siri.”

Contrary to many Quora users’ advice Ursache ditched the online tools. “Routine beats tools. You need discipline, and this means for me two things: I plan my day first thing in the morning, and I write a short daily log every day. This helps me stay sane, prioritise well, scrap useless tasks, and do what matters. This saves me hours.”

Use your tools wisely

While computer science PhD student, Jun He, disagreed. Online tools define his approach. Rather than a timer He uses Chinese software, ‘Eyefoo’ which locks his PC screen after a given time interval plus Evernote for note taking. He added ‘StayFocused’, an add-on tool for web browser, Google Chrome because it blocks user-defined websites over a certain time period. “I used to randomly click bookmarks and get lost. With it, now I don't. I also use it to block Gmail in the morning.”

Jan Lustro advised clearing your inbox by focusing on the most important material. “Set up rules to automatically send less important content such as newsletters, blog updates etcetera to read later folders, so you aren't tempted to read them when you are busy,” she wrote.  “You can also use rules to automatically delete, forward or send an automated response. Use the 'Mark as Spam' option for any junk that gets through your automatic spam filter. And unsubscribe from mail outs you find yourself regularly deleting without reading, she said.

Process, process, progress

While Bernhard Grabowski a self-employed German, applies his working process for everything from chores to admin. He suggested structuring tasks that can “complete themselves after you've started them.”

He gives household chores as an example. “Load up laundry before you go shower. Move laundry to the dryer after shower, wash next batch. Remove laundry after breakfast from the dryer and load the next batch,” Grabowski wrote. “You'll already have a nice head start for this task on this day. You can basically save most time by doing things in the right order.”

Another of his tricks: “Never walk empty (handed). There's always something that needs to be somewhere (like in the car or taken out of the car, trash), therefore always ‘enrich’ your tiny commuting tasks at home by moving (one) thing to its destination on the way.”

Quora respondents are required to use their true names under the site's Real Names policy. To help ensure legitimacy and quality, Quora asks some individuals, such as doctors and lawyers to confirm their expertise.

To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us onTwitter.