10 Best Time Management Tips to Hack Productivity
It seems that the one thing that we cannot produce with technology is time. Each of us is allotted the same 24 hours per day, and the only way to increase our productivity is to prove we have a better sense in regard to time management.
Once you take away 6 – 8 hours of sleep, eating, and personal time, that leaves approximately 16 hours to change the world or at least your little corner of it.
There have been books written on the subject of time management, talks given, seminars created and still, it is an elusive topic that continues to thwart all but the most dedicated. Time management tips that give tools for working smarter are worth their weight in gold when it comes to being efficient and productive.
Here we are presenting ten time-management tips to relieve stress and give you more of the valued commodity of time.
Sleep and rest are often sacrificed to gain more time. Half of the workforce of the planet is sleep deprived without being aware of the damage they are incurring. This accounts for the proliferation of energy drinks and alertness products sold over the counter and prescribed by physicians for a condition that would often time be remedied by a good night’s sleep.
This is a mistake that we often make early on in our careers or when we are against a deadline. A well-rested, well-fed, and healthy body removes the distractions that can rob us of valuable moments or even hours.
When we have gotten adequate sleep, our focus is sharper, our attention span longer and the quality of our work is higher. So proper time management will ensure you get enough sleep.
Many highly efficient people will set a routine that includes exercise and nutrition as the first steps of the day thus eliminating distractions later in the day of being hungry or tired or stressed. One way to accomplish this is to join a gym or to go for a run or early morning walk. Preparing food ahead of time or arranging for food to be available when you are hungry eliminates the distraction of stopping to prepare food in the middle of the workflow.
2. Commit to Your Plan
Creating a plan and outlining its execution is all part of a successful time management project but if there is no commitment to follow through, then the time allocated for the plan is wasted. The more involved in the plan, the greater is the need for a commitment to its completion. Within that commitment lies the need to create smaller plans.
3. Create a Deadline
Often people feel that they work best under pressure. The attitude towards the time crunch that produces an urgency that 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.
4. Plan Ahead
Nothing is more disturbing and disconcerting than trying to jump into a workflow with no idea where to start or what needs to be done in order to reach the end goal.
When we take the time to outline the events of the coming day, we give our mind time to work through the tasks while we sleep, and then we begin with many of the subtle details already worked out.
Here are a couple of ways to accomplish this time-planning ahead hack:
A. Each night take a few minutes to evaluate what was accomplished, clear your workspace, and arrange things so that you can glide into the flow in the morning.
For some this may mean straightening your desk and clearing things around. For others, it might mean checking the up-to-date TD Bank hours so that they know how to work their schedule around going to the bank and going to work. It also means closing all the browser windows and making sure that all work has been saved and filed for easy retrieval. Put together a list of the next day’s most important tasks. Allow your mind to drift through the completion of each of those upcoming tasks and feel the satisfaction of their completion. Visualize the feeling of adding them to your list of accomplished tasks the next night.
B. Each morning – arrive a bit early and read over your to-do list, chances are it will have revised itself while you slept and some things will have solved themselves or become more or less important.
Make sure you have things available within reach for snacking or water or whatever you need to continue your work for a set period without interruption. Set a time limit for work and breaks. How long can you operate efficiently before needing to shift your focus? Most people can work at peak efficiency for about 45 minutes and then a break is necessary. Find your time frame of optimal effectiveness.
5. Create Work Bundles or Batches
Different tasks require different time management skills and different ways of execution. For example, you need to write two articles, design a book cover, edit two videos and complete an application for a new project assignment. First, prioritize them in order of difficulty and then group the like tasks together.
Perhaps the book cover is part of the video stills, so make the design of the cover first, and the editing second. The articles are based on material that will also be included in the upcoming application so do the application first for the information to be readily available for the articles. Grouping or batching things in this matter will allow you to flow from one segment to the next without a break to regroup or re-orient. Time management will prove very useful in this case, as it will help you put your priorities in order.
6. Eliminate Distraction – Multitasking is Highly Overrated
Many people delude themselves into thinking they are getting a lot done by jumping from one task to another and stopping to answer emails, and texts and check social media all the while seeming to work on a completely unrelated project.
There is no such thing as efficient multitasking, rather what most people call multitasking is merely spinning in circles and giving only partial attention to all the balls they have in the air. Eventually, they have to go back and redo half of the things they thought they had completed thus wasting valuable time because of the need to do it over.
Avoid this pitfall by closing all browser windows except the ones related to your immediate project, turning off notifications on your phone and computer, and checking your calendar ahead of time to be sure you have a clear time frame with no surprise appointments. Creating a quiet environment and time management will prove an easier task than you thought.
7. Create Routines
Some tasks require no thought; they are things that we do every day as a matter of habit.
Create a routine for these things that will allow you to accomplish them with little or no distraction from the real task at hand. Creating a routine is a little bit of science and a little bit of art. Science is determining what needs to be done and art is finding a way to do it painlessly and joyfully. This is very similar to your overall planning and execution but with the intention of automation.
The following guidelines will help you to design routines that help you to be more effective:
- Make a timetable of when you are most effective. Most people have the best energy in the morning so try to solve in the morning those things that require the most focus.
- Make room for slight deviations. Always make room for slight deviations from the timetable so that you don’t stress if something interrupts your flow.
- Always create checklists. Create checklists so that you can mindlessly move through the routine checking off completed tasks as you go. This may seem redundant at first but over time it becomes a habit and the whole task can proceed without your mental attention thus freeing you to concentrate on other things that contribute to your larger project.
8. Do the Hard Things First
The tendency is to tackle the easy stuff first because they don’t take much time and it leaves you with more time to do the more involved things.
This is a mistake.
Tackle the difficult task with your fresh energy. Once they are done the lighter things will flow quickly.
There are a lot of organizational tools that include tips such as putting your day into these categories:
- Important / Urgent: These are things that MUST be done right away
- Important / Not Urgent: These things need to be done but they are not a make or break for the project – set a time to do them later.
- Urgent / Not Important: These are things that take a lot of attention but have little lasting impact on the outcome. Delegate if possible.
- Not Urgent / Not Important: These things are busywork, they have no impact on the project and serve only as a distraction – Eliminate them
9. Clear Your Mind
In an action-oriented world, we seldom take the time to just stop. We often think of self-care as something to do when we have time but stopping the action both mentally and physically and switching focus works as well for our bodies and minds as it does for our computers.
When you notice that your attention begins to wander and things not flowing as well as you would like, it’s time to defrag your mental hard drive.
Stop what you are doing, get up, walk around and focus on something completely different for a time allowing your mind to reset. For some people clearing their minds means taking a walk, for others, it’s meditating, exercising, or taking a power nap. Whatever you choose to do, do it with the same commitment that you apply to a project.
10. Integrate Work into Your Leisure
Probably one of the most important time management tips of all is to have fun and derive joy from all that you do. Don’t get so focused on being productive and getting things done that you miss out on the joys that are a part of accomplishment with ease. A question to keep in the forefront of your mind when working or playing is – How can I enjoy this more?
Arrange your tasks for your projects so that you get them done as a part of your daily life.
For example, if you are a photographer, take pictures when you are on vacation. This way you are both getting the raw materials to use later for work and having fun.
The same can be said of a task like collecting data, keeping a small notebook or an app on your phone that ideas and sources can be jotted into, and then when the actual task is at hand the research has already been done. This may seem like an unreachable goal, but with today’s tools of technology, this is more attainable than ever. Be open to the possibility and learn to use some tools, to create a balance between work and leisure. Learn about your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and joys then go about the ultimate task of embracing your passions.
There is always room for improvement when it comes to time management. Try to take into account the tips mentioned above, and you will be presented with the situation of getting things done in the shortest amount of time. Or you can use the best productivity apps or best time tracking apps.