Do you feel the need to be more organized and more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven’t accomplished much? Then these time management tips are for you – they’ll help you increase your productivity and stay cool and collected.
1. Plan your day or plan to fail
Going to work without a plan is planning to fail. Pick a dedicated time following your work day to plan out your next day. Go hour by hour starting with your most important task. This will give you a mental picture of your upcoming day and allow you to get back on track in case you’re interrupted with important/urgent tasks.
2. Avoid self-blame and negativity in the workplace
Be positive. There will be ups and downs in your time management efforts. Try to stay positive even when things are not going the way you planned. Self-blaming won’t do any good but will suck your energy and determination. And when you accomplish something that requires some time management skill give yourself praise.
3. Use an app to get off social media when working off site
One of my favorite productivity hacks comes with the help of an app called Stay Focusd. When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a ten-minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.
4. Create a Deadline
Often people feel that they work best under pressure. The attitude towards the time crunch that produces an urgency which causes you to be more focused works for some but is a time management pitfall best to be avoided in most cases. The amount of stress induced by this practice is detrimental to health and well-being.
A word of caution here, working under the pressure of a tight deadline leads to skipped steps and less than optimal results. Deadlines are crucial to good production but make sure they are generous enough to allow for revision and that you have allowed for fine tuning within the time allotted to complete the task.
5. Before meetings, determine your desired results
Have a clear purpose in mind before starting meetings. Your team will waste less time by getting back to work as soon as you meet your agenda.
6. Plan your week on Sunday
Take a few minutes on Sunday to create a plan for your whole week. Cure procrastination by breaking down your weekly goals into daily tasks, so you only need a glance at this list while working.
Schedule low-priority tasks for Mondays and other low-energy times. Complete creative and demanding tasks on Tuesday and Wednesday. Schedule meetings for Thursday, when your team’s energy starts to decline. Use your Fridays for planning and networking.
7. Don’t strive for perfection
When everything must be perfect, can anything ever be good enough? Probably not.
To become exceptional, you must fail repeatedly and learn from your mistakes. Look at every effort as an experiment – a valuable step on your journey, no matter what the outcome.
8. Schedule breaks between tasks
The human brain can only focus for about 90-minutes at a time.
Schedule a break at least every 90 minutes to avoid burnout and maintain high productivity throughout your day.
9. Train the other side of your brain
Engage in hobbies to engage the parts of your brain that you don’t use at work. You’ll solve problems faster and have more creativity at your disposal.
Spending time outside of your comfort zone leads to success. If you’re a lawyer, learn to dance. If you’re a pianist, practice martial arts. If you’re a software developer, go out and socialize.
10. Exercise often
Sports help you handle everyday stressors.
Researchers have shown that short and intense exercise sessions can be as beneficial as longer ones. Set some time aside for short workouts – at least every other day.
11. Learn to say “no”
Making a lot of time commitments can teach us how to juggle various engagements and manage our time. This can be a great thing.
However, you can easily take it too far. At some point, you need to learn to decline opportunities. Your objective should be to take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.
12. Become the best manager
Don’t just learn how to manage your time. Learn how to manage your actions, projects, distractions, attention, and habits. Because either you manage your time or time will manage you.
13. Unfollow everyone on social media, except the people you really care about
I did this a year ago, and it’s saved me hundreds of hours!
Not only that, I realise that I don’t even miss not getting updates from most of those people I’d been following.
14. Unsubscribe from all YouTube channels
If you unsubscribe from all YouTube channels, you’ll discover that there are only a few channels whose videos you really enjoy.
These are the channels that you’ll intentionally visit so you can watch the latest videos they’ve posted.
Which means you don’t actually need to subscribe to these channels!
15. Mute your group chats on your phone
In most group chats, there’s a lot of “noise” – messages that are neither urgent nor important.
Mute your group chats, and look through them once a day to ensure that you haven’t missed out anything important.
16. Use a very long password for your tablet and phone
Set a password that’s 15 to 20 characters long.
By doing this, you’ll become more conscious about when and how you use your tablet and phone.
You won’t use these devices mindlessly, which means that you’ll become a more focused and effective person
17. Find a mentor
Find someone you can learn from who has done it before so you can waste less time trying to figure it all out.
18. Solve a problem
Be proactive and address problems while they are small and manageable rather than putting them off to deal with later.
19. Act now
If you read an e-mail, respond immediately. If you open a letter, act on it or throw it away. If you need to speak to someone, pick up the phone. There is great power in now.
20. Time yourself
If you tend to get distracted or procrastinate, time yourself. Set a timer for 25-minute intervals and commit to work without stopping or distraction in each block.
21. Understand your patterns
Maybe you get a burst of energy in the mornings, hit your stride after working out at lunchtime, or think best in the late-night quiet.
22. Do the hard things first
Difficult tasks require more discipline. If you commit to doing the hardest things first, you will end up doing them with greater consistency.
23. Follow the 80-20 rule
Another great time management tip is to use the 80-20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This rule states that 80% of the efforts comes from 20 percent of the results. In sales, it also means that 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the customers. The trick? Identify the 20 percent of the efforts that are producing 80 percent of the results and scale that out. You can do this with meticulous tracking and analysis.
24. Do something during waiting time
We tend to have a lot of down-time where we don’t try to do much. Waiting rooms, lines at the store, time on the subway, on the elliptical at the gym, etc.
Find things to do during this time. I tend to have a lot of reading for classes, so I bring some of it almost everywhere I go and read during waiting time.
25. Find inspiration when you’re feeling lackluster
Turn to YouTube, TED Talks and any other inspirational source you can turn to when you’re lacking inspiration. It’s hard to stay on track with your time when you lose that drive inside of you. Find ways you can turn the fire back on by focusing inspiring content and seeking out others who’ve achieved big goals.