During the reign of hectic schedules, some time management tips can appear like a real saving grace.
In the era when the Internet is full of inspirational phrases like, “we have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé,” we have to ask – how can we find that extra hour? And it appears that the answer is quite simple – with a little help from time management.
Let’s be realistic – not all of us can be as perfect as Queen Bey with crushing our plans for the day. However, we can learn to manage our time at work to emerge from the office victoriously.
But when it comes to time management strategies, there are so many to choose from. So, how can we know which ones are the best? By testing out various tips and techniques to see what works and what doesn’t. So let’s put our productive hats on and start this journey!
#1: Organize your email – sort your correspondences, so you can be on top of your game. For example, create folders like “Important” for emails that require immediate attention and “Everything else” for the ones that can wait. And, of course, separate your work email account from your private one.
#2: Use calendar or planning apps – organize and manage your day like a boss with some of these apps, or turn to classics – a calendar that will never fail you. That way you can have a quick and easy insight on what you are working on and see what’s more to come.
#3: Choose actions that count – when you’re starting a new task, email, conversation with a colleague, ask yourself, is this truly important? Don’t become friends with irrelevant tasks. You might not realize it but they steal a lot of time from your day. Remember that every minute counts, so you have to make important decisions to do things that matter.
#4: Set achievable goals – this will give you a direction on where to concentrate your efforts. But remember to be realistic – sink your teeth into something that you can reach on a regular basis and commit to it. Additionally, incorporating SMART goals, as outlined in the article by Acuity Training, into your time management strategies can help increase productivity and achieve the desired outcomes.
#5: Keep a diary or a journal – write down in a journal or in your phone’s notes how you spend your time for one week. Be specific about what you do (for example, answer emails, chat with colleagues, etc.) and how much time it takes. Then reflect – are your actions productive? This will show a much clearer picture of what might be taking too much of your attention. If you don’t want to write down every small action manually, use DeskTime that will automatically track how you spend your time.
#6: Do all the heavy lifting in the morning – don’t push back the bigger or more unpleasant tasks. Eat that frog in the morning and you will feel much better. But if you really don’t want to get the ball rolling in the early hours, take on little by little to get your creative juices flowing.
#7: Break up with your bad habits (even when you are bored) – forget procrastinating, say goodbye to aimless scrolling through the Internet, and stop refreshing your social media feed all the time. Instead, choose positive energy, short but meaningful breaks, and be self-aware. For extra inspiration, read this book by James Clear that will lead you through the journey of improving yourself step by step every day.
#8: Make a list – set your priorities straight by making a to-do list. In addition, try to switch it up a little and create your list in the evening after finishing your day not first thing in the morning. This will help you to visualize the day’s plan and sort your tasks from most to least important. You might be surprised how much this small step can enhance your productivity.
#9: Breaks are important – it’s impossible to be 100% productive all day long. That is why you need to remember to have frequent breaks. Take a deep breath, have a snack, rest and recharge. It will help your productivity rise immensely.
#10: Turn off your social media notifications – social media notifications can be a serious distraction due to the fact that they occupy our attention constantly. So, to avoid the temptation to peek into your phone every 10 minutes, just turn them off.
#11: Learn to say “no” – be realistic about what you can and what you cannot take on. A new project can seem like a great opportunity, but before you accept it, ask yourself – will this affect my schedule/my time with family? If you see that it might be too much, it’s okay to say no. There will be other projects in the future.
#12: Have time for yourself before starting your day – have a cup of good coffee, go for a run, or read a book for 15 minutes. By doing this, you can raise your productivity levels and start your day with good vibes.
#13: Have a time limit for your tasks – set a timer for 30 minutes to clear your inbox or give yourself 2 hours to work on an important project. You will see that after a while you will adapt to these time-limiting rules and manage to do more than you ever had before.
#14: Perfectionism can become your frenemy – it’s okay to have high standards. However, perfectionism tends to raise the bar too high and result in unnecessary frustration that can lead to a potential burnout. How to overcome it? Keep in mind that doing good enough is perfectly acceptable.
#15: Turn “waiting time” into “me time” – when you wait in a line or in public transport, use these small “waiting” moments for yourself! Read a book, listen to a podcast, or meditate. It’s a great way to recharge yourself, so you can be ready to go on further adventures.
#16: Have short but productive walks – a study from the University of Colorado found that employees, who after an hour of work took short and brisk walks for five minutes, were more productive than the ones who had early morning walks. As you don’t want to lose time to procrastination, take a walk and then – continue the hustle.
#17: Multitasking might not be the answer – thriving at multitasking is a myth. The American Psychological Association confirms that multitasking can reduce productivity levels and result in more frequent mistakes. Therefore, you need to switch to single-tasking to effectively manage your time.
#18: Follow the 52:17 rule – what is the secret of the most productive workers? Effective breaks. A research by DeskTime shows that the most productive results were achieved by those who had intensive, 52-minute long working sessions combined with 17-minute long breaks. Try to implement this rule in your workday and see if it helps to manage your time effectively.
#19: Overcome temptations – get yourself a dose of discipline by using tools that will help you to not lose focus. For example, a website blocking extension Cold Turkey will limit your time on non-productive parts of the Internet and put your attention where it should be. Looking for a more poetic solution? Use website and application blocker Focus for your Mac and instead of seeing the Facebook timeline, get your inspirational quote of the day.
#20: Find your “workspace” – it’s important to get into the right mood that won’t let you linger on the background noises. Find a space that is intended for work-only activities. By doing so, no one will distract you in your “workspace” and your concentration won’t flutter away from your tasks.
#21: Have enough sleep – you can’t manage to do more at the expense of your sleep. That’s a fact. Sleep can affect your productivity at work, so you should try to have the right amount of it every day to have the energy to cross off tasks from your to-do list.
#22: Don’t skip meals – skipping meals can affect your performance at work. Slow decision making when you have to manage-it-all can be a real foe, therefore, eat healthy and regular meals, so your brain and body can stay in shape.
#23: Know when to outsource – you don’t have to be the only one who does all the heavy lifting. Consider the things that you’re not a big fan of (for example, accounting) and hire someone who would love to do it for you. Outsourcing can help you maintain focus on the things that you do best and save you from tasks that are necessary but not your cup of tea.
#24: Create a routine – having a daily routine can help to improve your time management skills. For example, start your day at a particular time, have breakfast, and shower. In the course of time, it will create a pattern of behavior and help you to achieve goals in a more orderly and effortless manner.
#25: Optimize your schedule – if you’re not a morning person and conquering the day at 9 AM doesn’t sound like your jam, find ways to make this work for you. If you have an office job, start your day with tasks that are meaningful but don’t require your concentration on full throttle, for example – sorting your emails. But if you work as a freelancer or you have a flexible schedule, dive into the beauty of starting your day later and see how it can become one of the best decisions of your life.
#26: Create an environment that works for you – you can (and should) find creative ways to get into the zone. For example, music can significantly improve your ability to focus and brighten your mood. Therefore, put in some headphones, listen to your favorite focus playlist, and get going!
#27: Believe in email automatization (where it’s possible) – do you ever get the feeling that you write similar emails to several clients? Maybe it’s time to make some email templates that might fit for various situations. Just remember to highlight all the places that will require changes to fit the particular recipient.
#28: Have a tidy workspace – a tidy and nice environment filled with natural light and plants can increase your productivity by 15% and decrease stress levels. In addition, make sure that your computer is organized. Why? So you won’t spend an unreasonable amount of time looking for some files that are suddenly very needed for your project.
#29: Keep track of your progress – this is a very important step for self-motivation. You will agree that there is no better feeling than crossing off a task from your to-do list. Thus, you have to raise your own spirits with your accomplishments. The success will drive and inspire you to keep up the good work.
#30: Review your day – after the workday is officially over, try to review it. See what you managed to do according to plan, and what caused problems. Then analyze the reasons behind every success or failure. Reflecting can help you understand what you could do better and what needs to be done to improve the time management of your day.
There are tons of strategies for time management. But the main thing to remember is – what works for one person might not work for you. Therefore, be open and curious to find techniques and strategies that help you to do your job effectively.
So, let’s consider these time management tips as our superhero capes that will help us conquer our future challenges and lead us into eternal success.
Discover more productivity tips – listen to this interview with the productivity coach Stoyan Yankov.
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