We’re all short of time these days. With more ways to communicate and new technologies emerging to help us perform better, increasingly more is being asked of us. So if you’re looking to increase your productivity but aren’t sure where to start, here are the six time management strategies that I find useful:
1. Write a ‘to-do’ list. It really helps to get a clear picture of how your day should be panning out. Prioritise tasks according to urgency and tackle them methodically. I mark them as follows:
- A if they’re mission critical – they HAVE to be completed that day.
- B if they need to be completed that day.
- C if they’re not urgent for that day, but it would be great if they were completed.
- D if they’re not urgent at all and it wouldn’t matter if they weren’t completed in the short-term.
2. Beware of distractions. Be aware of what distracts you – and don’t let it. If you know you’re likely be interrupted by emails, social media, instant messaging, phone calls, or the TV then simply turn them off. You can even disconnect from the Internet to remove further temptation.
3. Schedule activity. For example, schedule times to check your email or your social media networks. Rather than checking them constantly, which wastes time, drains brainpower and can cause stress, check in at two or three set times in the day. I usually do this as soon as I wake up (6am), then at lunchtime, and again at the end of the day. Operating in this way frees up so much time. I also use time sheets so I can see exactly where my time goes plus I schedule tasks by putting them in my Outlook or Google calendar. I’m a big fan of ‘what gets scheduled gets done!’
4. Break down tasks. If you’re working on a big project break it down into manageable tasks that can be completed in a few hours or less. See each task through to the end before starting the next. Not only is this more efficient, it’s also much more satisfying as you’ll get so much more done. I used to like using a project scheduler for this task. It also felt great ticking things off the list when they were completed.
5. Give yourself a break. It’s impossible to maintain concentration for long periods. Ideally I’d say take a rest or break after 60 to 90 minutes of work. Get up from your desk, make a drink, take a walk, have a chat, look away from your computer screen and allow your mind to recharge for a few minutes.
6. Say “no” more often. When you say “yes” to do something, you’re actually saying “no” to something else. We all like to help people out, but consider what you’re doing. Sometimes by helping a friend or work colleague you’re actually penalising your own activity, for time is money. Furthermore, when you’re starting out in business or in a new job you really need all the time you can get as there’s so much to do. So, I’m not saying don’t help others out, just be aware of what you’re doing more and how much your time is worth. If you’re not sure how much your time is worth then you can find out here.
Finally, I’m going to leave you with this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Now I want to hear from you…
In the comments below, tell me how you’re dealing with managing your time and what your biggest challenge with it is. Let me know what techniques you’re using to improve your productivity. Let me know what action you’ll take as a result of watching and reading this post too. I’d love to hear.
Please share your stories and experience here, and if you’ve got a question, just pop it down here. If you want to contact me to discuss how you can improve business development for you or your team click here.
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