What Is Time Management? Tips for Managing Time Effectively
What is Time Management?
When you google ‘time management’ you’ll get over 7.5 million results, pages and pages of results with tips and tricks to manage your time. However, it’s important to understand the meaning of ‘time management’ before working out how to achieve it in the best possible way.
So, what is time management? To put it simply;
“Time management is the process in which you organize, divide and plan how much time you spend on specific tasks.”
With good time management, you’ll be able to work smarter, enhance your productivity, and get more done, in less time.
How? Well it’s pretty straightforward as time management provides you with;
- Greater productivity and efficiency
- Less stress
- Increased professional and personal opportunities
It’s what we all want, right? To be more productive and make sure that we get the most out of the day. But, how do we get to that point where we can finally say, ‘I’ve got this down?’ Well, we’re here to provide you with the most in depth document, and probably the only one you’ll ever need to get you to that point in no time! Read on to find out how to make sure that you are properly managing your time and how to get even better at doing it.
8 Time Management Tips for Professionals
At work, we’re all busy. Building careers and getting tasks done throughout the day is no easy feat. We all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves in the workplace but often find that there’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done.
So how can you be more productive and effectively manage your time throughout the day? Here are the top 8 time management tips for professionals to make sure you get the most out of your day, every single day.
1. Plan Your Day
We’re all acquainted with the stress of a Monday morning. Straight off the back of a weekend you need to get yourself into ‘work mode’ pretty quickly before that first meeting. So, if you can the night before or while you’re drinking your coffee make sure you plan your day before it begins.
For example, before you start your day’s work, make a plan with all the tasks you aim to complete that day. This will give you a good overview of what needs to get done and how to plan your time around your tasks. Not to mention how the benefits of planning your day are quite amazing.
This is because planning can greatly reduce your stress. Proper planning gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you have formulated a feasible plan of action and that your goals are attainable. It also helps you to be prepared for obstacles because part of the planning process is creating a contingency plan for unexpected problems. Planning also serves as a way to evaluate your progress as you work and will let you know whether or not you are staying on schedule. Additionally, you’ll feel SO accomplished and satisfied at the end of the day when you’ve followed your plan and checked everything off.
2. Prioritize Tasks
When it feels like you have a lot of work on your plate, often the last thing you’ll think about is writing a prioritisation list, however – it’s important that you do it.
A task prioritisation list not only is a proven way to focus your attention, become more productive and limit distractions, but can also act as an important motivational tool by allowing you to visualise the steps you must take to achieve your goal. The three main benefits of prioritizing your tasks are;
- Work-life balance – prioritizing your tasks will give you a clear picture of what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed. This will limit the stress about forgetting to do something and when you have completed your tasks – you can unplug.
- Creativity – Knowing what you have to do to complete a task will allow you to have a clear mind and allow you to think out of the box about how you can achieve your task. This will enhance your creativity and the task will seem less routine.
- Accomplishment – When you tick a box or cross an item off your task prioritisation list you will feel a sense of success. This will not only make you feel accomplished but will also build your confidence in knowing you can do it and this will lead to making bigger, better goals and taking on more responsibility. Remember, there’s only so much we can get done in one day so it’s crucially important to prioritize tasks. You might want to think about applying the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization to help you.
3. Take Breaks
On average, Americans work 9.2 hours a day, with only one in three people claiming to take a break throughout the day. However, this has been proven as an ineffective way of working. Taking breaks goes a long way, especially when you’ve been staring at a computer screen for hours at a time. Lifehack states that even a microbreak of 15 seconds taken every 10 minutes reduces fatigue by 50%. Studies have also revealed that taking regular breaks increases productivity by 6.45%. Therefore, throughout the working day, it’s important to take frequent breaks to ensure optimal productivity and to keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels.
There are many research-backed health, wellness and performance benefits of taking breaks too. For example, according to the Tork survey, nearly 90% of North American employees claim that taking a lunch break, helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. So take those breaks to make sure you’re raring to go throughout the rest of the day!
4. Effective Teamwork
Effective teamwork is what makes businesses succeed. Whether it’s a band, a baseball team, or a Fortune 500 company, chemistry is at the heart of what makes teams great. Much of modern business thinking is centered on understanding the chemistry of what makes effective teamwork tick. And the best way to learn … is by doing, as Confucius says.
More often than not, effective teamwork is built on the following characteristics
- Clear direction – without a clear sense of what a team needs to accomplish and how a successful outcome will be defined, it’s impossible to assemble the right group of people to get there. Make sure you decide on team goals and desired outcomes first. Start at the end point and think about What the outcome is you want and why.
- Communication – communication is crucial to building a real sense of ‘togetherness’ between people. Allow people to communicate freely and frequently as this will determine the effectiveness of the team. However, you must also remember that the most important part of communication is listening. Listening is not just a way to find things out, It’s a sign of respect, value and worth.
- Defined roles – Set specific roles for specific members of a team. Each member takes responsibility for what they’re best at. For example, if you are working on a new app – the developer needs to write the code and the product manager will take the lead on the project itself. These roles may cross over and change as you go but it’s important everyone understands their responsibilities from the start.
- Common goals – Teams should also put the common goal above individual interests. While scaling individual targets is great for personal morale, teams succeed when they understand, appreciate and work with a common purpose.
- Collaboration – Close collaboration is a trait shared by every successful team, whether it be the Apple leadership team or Lennon-McCartney of the Beatles. The idea is simple: the more you collaborate and the more you communicate, the more you create.
5. Set Buffer-Time
Going from one task to another or from a task to a meeting may give the impression that you’re using your time wisely, however it actually has the opposite effect.
We all need time throughout the day to clear our minds and recharge between things. As reported by the Fast Company, the human brain can only focus for around 90 minutes at a time.
Therefore, without a buffer between tasks and meetings, it will be much harder to stay focused. Make sure you leave enough time between meetings and tasks to make sure you’re on time and ready mentally for the next challenge of the day.
6. Say No
To impress our bosses and colleagues, we often bite off more than we can chew. We take on more work than is actually possible to get done, which in turn creates a recipe for disaster.
Why? Well generally speaking it’s because the copious amount of work that we’ve just taken on as a mechanism to impress, distracts us from more important tasks that we already needed to get done and pulls our minds in multiple directions, thinking of ways to get it all done, before we even begin.
Learning to say no can often be difficult as we relate it to being rude and unwilling however, it really doesn’t have to be. Two tips to remember when putting this tip in place are;
- Say ‘no’ with a smile
- Follow up after saying no do the other party knows you were not just thoughtlessly saying no and that you genuinely have a reason for it
Learning to say no to certain things at certain times will increase your productivity and self value and will definitely help to keep your focus and time management in place.
7. Use an Online Calendar
You may not realize it, but your calendar habits can make or break your success and your productivity. That’s because without proper calendar management you aren’t able to be as focused and productive as you should be.
Using an online calendar enables you to access your daily, weekly and monthly schedule from multiple devices. This means you can easily schedule meetings and appointments, set up reminders, create time blocks, and schedule recurring events wherever you are, making you much more efficient and aligned.
The use of a calendar also allows you to effectively manage your time and set aside specific blocks of times for certain things. By doing this you create a routine that enables you to remember important dates, appointments and tasks. This helps you enter a flow state, reduces stress, saves time, and keeps you focused and energetic since you’re not switching between tasks. For example, block out a specific time in your calendar to respond to emails and another block for undisturbed work. Or you could schedule similar meetings on the same day so that you remain in that flow and keep the information fresh in your mind.
8. Set Goals
Setting goals is a great motivator for all of us and we know when we need to achieve certain things by. However, before you focus on what needs to get done, you need to think about what you can do every day that will help you achieve your ultimate goal.
This means focusing on consistent progress and building better habits rather than immediately thinking of the end goal.
For example, let’s say you need to complete a long blog post by the end of the month.
The goal is a completed blog post. However, at first it might seem like a real challenge. So, rather than being overwhelmed by the end goal, set a daily goal of writing a certain amount of words. Once you stick to the ‘mini’ goal, you’ll easily reach your goal by the set deadline. And trust us, there is NO better sense of accomplishment!
7 Time Management Tips for Students
Maybe you get straight A’s regardless of how you manage your time or maybe you’re just getting by in your classes. Either way, everyone gets the same 24 hours each day. Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Beyonce and well…you get the point – they all have, or had 24 hours a day just like you and me. So what was it that led them or leads them to lead such significant lives? Time management.
So many students around the world, could better their grades and learn to study like pros with better time management. By putting the tips in this article into practice, you’ll become more focused and less stressed, and probably start getting better grades…
1. Exercise Every Morning
Picture this scenario: It’s the night before a big exam. You need to have a productive study session in order to feel ready for the exam. You lay out all your notes and textbooks, flashcards and study guides on your table. You flip open your notes and then it hits you. You are totally exhausted.
How do you shake it? How do you find the energy you need to have a successful study session? Tea? Coffee? Energy drinks? No, no and no.
Try push-ups. Try pull-ups. Try a quick jog.
While it may seem counterproductive to exercise when you have to study, studies actually show significant benefits of exercise for students. They show that;
- Exercising increases your energy levels
- Exercising increases your brain function – by helping to improve your memory and increase your cognitive performance.
- Levels your emotional state – due to the release of endorphins which reduce stress levels and make you happier, among other things which means exercising reduces the stress you are feeling about that upcoming exam.
This might not be an obvious tip and you may think it won’t help you manage your time however, exercising every single morning gives you balance. Cut the toxins out of your life and get serious by doing this and watch as your energy, stamina and mental focus takes a drastic shift.
2. Make to-do Lists
Studies have shown that people perform better when they have written down what they need to do. It’s been proven that note taking helps us distill the information we hear and remember it better than we would if we’d just heard or read it.
Therefore, in an ideal world, and if you really want to ace that exam, every night before bed, make a list of what you need to study for the next day.
Look at your exam times, goals and weaknesses and see what you can do to help make sure you achieve your goals. By making to-do lists, you’re effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards our desired achievements and will enable us to be less forgetful of important tasks and more in control of our schedules.
3. Get a Study Buddy
Studying can be an isolating and frustrating experience, and studies have shown that students have a better overall experience and a higher success rate if they work with others with similar interests and goals.
Finding someone to study with is helpful. When you join forces and help one another to achieve the same goals, studying often becomes much easier.
The benefits of a study buddy however, go far beyond making life easier. You’ll be able to learn new study methods and new ways of learning that you hadn’t thought about and may be more suited to your style of learning.
You’ll also be able to motivate each other and share resources – such as useful articles and blogs that you may not have known about before. So, find that study buddy and start working more effectively today!
4. Block Social Media
The internet is full of information that can help you study effectively. Unfortunately, instant access to such an overwhelming amount of content can also backfire. What may start as a quick jaunt to your social media feed or favorite website ends with hours of wasted productivity and time that you could have spent studying for that important exam.
Social media gives us an easy outlet to procrastinate and avoid doing what’s most important. Even with extraordinary discipline, it’s easy to give in to these distractions. It’s far too easy to open your laptop, pull up your notes, and then completely lose track of your responsibilities after seeing a notification from a friend. There’s so much content out there begging for your attention, and it’s tough not to give in. The good news?
There are plenty of tools that can help you overcome the temptation of distracting and addictive tech. Instead of forcing you to rely on willpower alone, these tools cut off access to your biggest distraction sources. So while you can make sure you close off all applications on your phone that can distract you, you can also block them with BlockSite. You’ll be more efficient that way.
5. Combine Similar Tasks
It has been reported that attention is best focused on a single set of information at a time. Our attention as human beings is very poorly regulated between several tasks at once, which means multitasking is a no go as it’s cognitively impossible.
However, what you can do, and do well is to combine two skills or tasks that are not directly competing with each other for your attention. This is because, when you combine tasks, one of the two tasks should be routine as it takes little cognitive function to perform any task that has become a habit, which leaves much more room for learning new information.
What this means is that it’s not the best idea to try and learn two separate things at once. For example, if you’re revising for your English Literature exam, you can combine it with watching an informative YouTube video on the topic at hand. However, if you’re attempting to learn a new math skill, you cannot effectively regulate your attention between English Literature revision, watching a video and learning a new math skill.
If you want to accomplish several goals in a day and you want to break them up to avoid boredom, try taking a break from one while you do the other, and vice versa. You are not multitasking while doing this; you are diverting attention separately between two tasks. This has a major advantage: It is useful for when you want to split up a task but you still want to continue being productive between the two.
The bottom line is, when you have similar tasks to complete, batch them together. For example, don’t answer your emails and phone calls throughout the day. Schedule a specific time to handle these tasks. The reason? Different tasks demand different types of brain power. By batching similar tasks together, your brain isn’t switching gears – which means you cut out that time reorienting.
6. Get Some Sleep
Plenty of students do that very studenty thing of staying up all night right before a really important exam, in the hope of stuffing in as much knowledge as they can. But, according to a psychology lecturer at the Royal Holloway University, “that’s the worst thing you can do”. As an expert on how sleep affects memory, he states that sleep itself is essential for embedding knowledge in the brain, and the research of Tamminen and others shows us why that is.
Other scientists have also found that sleeping less to create more task-oriented time leads to trouble as well as impacting distraction levels.
Therefore, tired people tend to procrastinate more and get distracted easily. Give your brain at least eight hours of sleep every night so that you can be at the top of your game when it comes to studying.
7. Find a Study Space
Sometimes, where you study is just as important as what you study. Numerous studies have found that the place—or “context’—in which you study affects how you’ll remember that information. Of course every student knows this, since all of us have tried to read in a loud cafe or at an aunt’s house on Thanksgiving or while a roommate is practicing guitar and we all know which study sessions are the effective ones and which ones aren’t.
Some students will spend the first 20 minutes of their study time just looking for somewhere to sit. A key to good time management is to find a permanent study space free from distractions where you can concentrate and spend all your time learning.
If you designate one room or area as your study space, over time your brain will catch on. You’ll enter into ‘study-mode’ sooner once entering the space, which is really valuable before exams or whenever you’re crunched for time. Moving between libraries and coffee shops and friends’ apartments can be mentally jolting, since you’ll always have new distractions to process and overcome.
Time Management Skills
5 Great Ways to Improve Time Management Skills
Do you know how much time you waste on a typical working day or week? Maybe 4 hours, a whole day, more? The average person spends less than 60% of their working day doing something productive. Yes, that’s right – Skillcast states that due to impromptu meetings and emails, we manage to waste endless hours a day doing, well not a lot.
Additionally, If you’ve recently started working from home or generally work from home, without a daily commute perhaps you’re suddenly feeling time-rich. Yet, it’s more essential than ever that you use that time wisely.
Effective time management leads to positive increases for businesses and individuals alike. People with good time management skills tend to be more productive, more motivated and also more likely to meet deadlines. But, it’s not always easy to get this right. Here are some skills that you can invest in learning to improve your time management skills today.
A person with good organizational skills usually is a person who has a clutter free desk – all the time. This person is also the type of person who takes notes while in an important meeting or lecture, and sets a plan of action based on his or her ‘to-do list.’
However, while too many of us, this doesn’t come naturally – the benefits of being organized allows you to quickly find anything that you need, whether it’s a contract you signed yesterday or an email you received two years ago and will help you progress towards meeting your own goals.
Start getting organized online and offline today, and see how quickly this helps you manage your time better.
Planning is the process of documenting and establishing a direction of your business or even of your own goals. By assessing both where you are and where you’re going, you’ll be able to understand your mission, vision, and values, as well as your long-term goals and the action plans you’ll use to reach them. A strategic plan can play a pivotal role in growth and success because it tells you how best to respond to opportunities and challenges.
A good plan consists of analyzing and setting realistic goals and objectives. This isn’t something that happens overnight either. It can take some time, but it’s very beneficial. You’ll have a better idea of the goals and objectives you want to accomplish and a path to take in order to achieve those goals. Not to mention how it can increase productivity and success because you’ll know what to do to get where you want to be. As Napoleon Hill once said, ‘plan your work and work your plan.
We often set limits in life, for example – where money is involved. Unless you’re very wealthy or don’t mind racking up debts, you’ll budget your income by setting limits on how much you’re willing to spend on certain things. This helps you control your expenses and not overspend. The same applies with your time. Setting limits on how much time you spend doing certain things, avoids wasting your time or using it carelessly.
Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a certain amount of time to complete a task in advance you avoid wasting time. For example, using Parkinson’s Law which states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important and you’ll be sure to complete tasks accordingly.
The reason why so many people fail at time management is that they’re not self-aware. What do we mean by this? For example, if you believe that you don’t have “time” to exercise, hang out with friends or relax, then you won’t have time.
Not having time isn’t the issue, it’s that you aren’t aware of how much time you’re spending on each activity and part of your day. You’ll want to track what you do, often, to achieve the work-life balance you desire. Not having time is an awareness problem. If you feel that you’re wasting too much time on unnecessary and unproductive activities, that too is an awareness problem.
The key to time management is self-awareness. The Harvard Business Review states that awareness, along with arrangement and adaptation, are the skills that “separate time management success from failure.”
Additionally, research shows that “people struggled the most with awareness and adaptation skills where assessment scores were, on average, 24% lower than for arrangement skills.” They also state that awareness skills were the primary driver of how well people avoided procrastination, and adaptation skills were the primary driver of how well they prioritized activities, so make sure you’re aware of what and when you’re doing certain things in order to manage your time effectively.
5. Stress Management
Positive Psychology reported that stress “has become one of the most serious health issues of the 20th century and a worldwide epidemic. This also means that most of us experience it on a daily basis. It often creeps up on us when we feel as though we have a lack of control over the events in our lives.
Therefore, in order to cope we need to take into account how to reduce stress and learn how to deal with the issues we face. To begin with, the stress management process needs to start with a realistic appraisal of how and what it is that’s stressing us out.
One idea would be to monitor yourself for a few days or a week to try to get a sense of what it is exactly that makes us feel stressed. Once you engage in that process, then it’s easier to start understanding how to deal with the issues that arise.
Then, once you’re aware of what it is that’s stressing you out it is time to start developing the tools of how you handle stress. This could include various strategies of self care. For example, if you get angry very quickly and find it hard to control your temper, you could practice meditation.
The American Psychological Association suggests that switching out one behavior at a time is most effective in creating positive change. Whatever you choose to do, to manage stress and in turn, improve your time management it’s important that you make self-care a priority. The simplest things that promote well-being, such as enough sleep, food, downtime, and exercise are often the easiest, and the ones overlooked.
Time Management Strategies
Putting the right time management strategies in place will enable you to make the most of your time and help you to work efficiently. The main objective of time management is to make every day count for something and to feel accomplished.
How we spend our time is becoming more and more important in our everyday lives the way we choose to live. When a person manages it’s time wisely by investing in time management techniques, they are more likely to achieve a much-needed work-life balance. Check out our 6 essential time management strategies below to help you get the ball rolling.
6 Essential Time Management Strategies
1. Self Care
Taking care of yourself is SO important. Scheduling time to relax, or do nothing, can help you rejuvenate both physically and mentally, enabling you to accomplish tasks more quickly and easily. This is because of the benefits that self care brings for example, the Law of Attraction explains these benefits as;
- Better productivity. Once you learn how to say “no” to things and start making time for more important things, you’ll bring your goals into sharper focus and be able to concentrate on more important tasks
- Better physical health. With better self-care often comes fewer illnesses. Less stress and a better immune system will help you feel more physically able and strong inside and out.
- Improved self-esteem. When you regularly take time out to be good to yourself and meet your own needs, you send a positive message to your subconscious. This helps in discouraging negativity.
So make sure you take some time out to do you. Whether you choose to meditate, dance, hang out with friends or take a relaxing spa day – self care choices are endless, just make sure you take advantage of what makes you feel good from time to time to ensure your mental and emotional wellbeing.
2. High Value Activities
Before moving from task to task, identify the activity or tasks that would have the most positive effect on you, your project, your team, or whatever it is if it were to be dealt right now. Resist the temptation to clear smaller, unimportant items first as this is less effective. Start with what is most important and to help you assess which activities to focus on first, ask the following:
- What does my client or my team need most from me right now?
- What will cause the most trouble if it doesn’t get done?
- What is the biggest contribution I can make right now?
- Which strategic tasks do I need to deal with today to help me work more efficiently?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll understand what ‘high value’ tasks need to be completed and be able to proceed. You’ll also find that your time is put to better use and the sense of accomplishment will be great.
3. Minimize interruptions
We’ve all been there, we sit down at our computers, ready to get stuck into work, when the phone rings. You answer it, it’s your friend. She wants you to help her with understanding a situation she had at work. All done, back at your computer and you are ready to get started again. In walks your work colleague from down the hall asking you about a project you both worked on last month. You chat for a bit, he leaves, you are ready to go again, when a couple of your colleagues who sit around you start to chat about recent political happenings. You hear someone make a comment you strongly disagree with, so you can’t help but say your bit. Three hours after you first sat down you open the file to get started. Your stomach rumbles and you get an instant message: “You ready for lunch?”
This is an all too familiar scenario for all of us. Everything around you seems to be screaming, ‘you’re not going to get anything done today.’ So how do you avoid this? The more uninterrupted time you get during the day to work on important tasks, the more effective you’ll be. Identify the activities that tend to disrupt your work, and find a solution.
Basically, one of the most essential time management skills is to not get distracted. For example, avoid checking emails and answering the phone when you’re in the middle of something important. Once you have broken your flow, it can be difficult to reestablish it. Instead, discipline yourself to work on a task single-mindedly until it’s complete. And make sure those phone notifications, and unnecessary sites and programs are all closed. And regarding the phone calls and people popping in for a chat? Silence your phone and put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door 😉
4. Review your day
Spend a few minutes at the end of every day reviewing that to do list you set in place at the start of the day. If you’ve accomplished most or all of what you wanted, give yourself a pat on the back and take a moment to think about what helped you to achieve them.
If you feel your day’s effort fell short, decide what you’ll do differently tomorrow in order to accomplish what you need to. Whatever happens, make sure you leave the office in high spirits determined to pick up the thread the next day.
By doing this, you’ll improve your time management by understanding in depth where your strengths and weaknesses are and what needs to be improved day by day. And you can be sure, if you stick to this process for a few months, you’ll be completing tasks and working to your full potential.
5. Think Positively
You have probably had someone tell you in the past to “look on the bright side” or to “see the cup as half full.” Chances are good that the people who make these comments are positive thinkers. Researchers are finding more and more evidence pointing to the many benefits of optimism and positive thinking.
Such findings suggest that not only are positive thinkers healthier and less stressed, they also have greater overall well-being. According to positive psychology researcher Suzanne Segerstrom, “Setbacks are inherent to almost every worthwhile human activity, and a number of studies show that optimists are in general both psychologically and physiologically healthier.”
So, how can a positive attitude aid you in time management? When you’re in a good mood, people will want to help you out if you’re in a bind. It also prevents you from indulging in time-wasting activities like complaining. It also boosts your confidence and encourages you to solve problems instead of making them any worse.
You can brighten your mood at work by showing your appreciation to your colleagues or customers. Or if you’re a student, you could organize your desk, listen to music or go for a walk outside to boost your positivity.
Time Management Techniques
Time management is really all about managing yourself. You can’t really “manage” time because there are 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute, and that isn’t going to change any time soon.
However, you can control where and how you spend your time and take actions to reduce or eliminate the things that waste your time. We’ve rounded up five of the most timeless, and maybe unthought of ways to make the most of the time you have available each day.
5 Most Effective Time Management Techniques
1. Work Around Energy Levels
Research shows that a person’s productivity is directly related to their energy levels. This means that in order to get the most out of your working day, you need to find your most productive hours and how to work smarter during those hours.
For example, when put into practice this means that if you are a morning person, you need to get your most critical tasks done first thing in the morning. After lunch, you might find that your energy crashes a bit and that would be a great time to do tasks such as filing, cleaning up your inbox or updating spreadsheets.
It’s also important to know your energy levels by day; Tuesday seems to be the most productive day for most people, but you can also try and find your own patterns. Jeremiah Dillion, head of product marketing for Google Apps for Work, organizes his week around his energy levels in the following way;
Monday: Energy coming out of the weekend. He schedule’s low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.
Tuesday, Wednesday: High peak of energy. He tackles the most difficult problems, writes, brainstorms, and schedules his Make Time.
Thursday: Energy begins to slump. He schedules meetings.
Friday: Lowest energy level day. He does open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.
Start by mapping your work and energy levels in a spreadsheet for a couple of weeks until you uncover your productivity patterns.
2. Reward yourself
Reward and actions are closely related. Think it through. You perform an action expecting a reward. Though the reward does not always show up as an award or a trophy, you expect some form of return for the effort you put in.For example:
- You expect a salary for working every month
- You expect to lose weight after working out for a month
- You expect to reach a destination when you step into a car
The same applies when completing tasks. If you finish a task or a project that you’ve been working on, it’s important you recognize the accomplishment and take a break or do something for yourself. This could be anything from drinking a cup of coffee to listening to music or calling a friend.
Those little rewards are often a great way to motivate yourself. If you put in a simple personal reward system, you find the reason to keep going. The magnitude of the reward is not directly proportional to motivation. Even the smallest of rewards can get you all pumped up to do more.
The reason for a reward helping your energy levels is backed by science. Every time you receive a reward, your body releases dopamine which creates a sense of pleasure. Your body secretes the same chemical during various other occasions of pleasure, both good and bad, such as love, gambling, smoking and so on.
To top that, dopamine is highly addictive no matter what form it shows up in. You crave for more and more dopamine. By building a reward system for yourself, you are using your dopamine to your advantage.
3. Automate Repetitive Tasks
In today’s world, technology enables us to automate a lot of our daily operations. By automating a few of your tasks, you can save hours every week to spend on more important tasks. Putting some of your daily tasks on autopilot is key to working smarter.
Here are a couple of tasks you can automate in under 10 minutes:
- Create canned responses in Gmail canned for emails you keep writing over and over again
- Set reminders on Google Calendar so you never forget anything
- Proofread your writing automatically using Grammarly
- Use Buffer to schedule and automate your social media posts in advance
- Automatically fill online forms using LastPass, saving all your passwords in one place
- Create spreadsheet templates for reports you have to do weekly/monthly
4. Let Go Of Perfectionism
Put simply, perfectionism keeps you from being perfect. It’s easy to be caught up in an endless cycle of trying to do everything perfectly. But being a perfectionist can delay your work and make you miss important deadlines. The sooner you realize that delivering high-quality work on time is the most important skill, the faster you will advance on your goals and career.
Perfectionism is actually fear disguised in sheep’s clothing, which shows itself as procrastination. Learn to accept that small details don’t matter, and that you can always fix things afterward if needed.
In the words of Mark Twain: “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” and to put it simply, aiming for perfection is an easy way to delay or never complete a project. Make sure you choose to chase ‘good enough’ instead and your workload and productivity will be incredible.
5. Have a To-Don’t List
In Mathematics, there is a problem-solving technique called inversion. This process starts with results and works backward to calculate the causes. Inversion is a powerful tool because it forces you to uncover hidden beliefs about the problem you are trying to solve. You need to think about how to minimize the negatives instead of maximizing the positives.
So let’s say you want to improve productivity. Thinking forward, you would list all the things you could do to be more productive. But if you look at the problem by inversion, you’d think about all the things you could do that would diminish productivity.
This brings us to the ‘To-Don’t List’.
Create your own by writing down all the habits you want to quit and the things you’d like to eliminate from your life. Think about your workday that consists of long meetings with people you don’t like and boring repetitive tasks — and work from there.
- No morning meetings
- Don’t say yes unless you’re 100% certain you can deliver
- Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time
The reason why inversion works is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” — Steve Jobs
Time Management Tools
7 Best Time Management Tools You Need to Check Out
It’s 2020, which means that unlike generations before you, you have the benefit of available technology that can radically boost your productivity by improving your time and task management game.
This also means that you have options, other than yourself to rely on to help you make the most of your time.
But with so many options available, it’s easy to get lost in the app stores and not know what to choose. To make it easier, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites to get you started.
Trello is based on the concept of a cardboard-like dashboard that’s great for managing short and quick everyday assignments. You can visualize project tasks which makes it the most visual way for teams to collaborate on projects. And, if that’s not enough, it’s free for personal use and around $10 for businesses.
- Simple task management
- Create unlimited task lists
- Image and file sharing
- Organising lists by dates or priority
- Commenting and collaboration
Toggl is a tracking software that integrates with lots of different project management systems. It is a great add-on to existing tools, helping you to be more productive throughout the day.
- Unlimited projects
- Online & offline time tracking
Timecamp is used for time-tracking for billing clients. It measures project profitability, or can be used for paying employees at the end of the month, as it is easy to calculate income based on time worked.
- Automatic billable & non-billable time tracking
- Integrated payment
- Budgeting in money or time
- Mobile & desktop apps
Dropbox allows you to transfer content from your computer to other devices, for free! With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go.
Top features (well Dropbox has many so here’s a few):
- File sharing
- Automatic organization & back-up
- Any device accessibility
- File storage
- Link-sharing via email, chat or text message
- Online back-up & file recovery
- Manually set bandwidths
- Activity audit
1PassWord allows users to keep all their passwords in one encrypted database, protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. It also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.
- Password Recipe tool
- Password generator
- Permission management
- Secure notes
- Security audits
Wunderlist was purchased by Microsoft in 2015, and is an easy to use, feature-packed to-do list app. From planning a holiday, to sharing a shopping list with a partner, or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist will keep you on top of all your tasks.
- Sharing & Inviting
- Activity Center & Notifications
- Smart Lists
- Drag & Drop
- Action Bar
Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems.
Best Android video meeting quality
- Screen sharing
- Screen share photos, web and Google Drive, Dropbox or Box files
- Send group text, images and audio from mobile and desktop
- Contact availability status
- Easily invite phone, email or company contacts
- Join as interactive participant or view-only webinar attendee