- Create a time audit. The first step you need to take is finding out where your time actually goes. You may believe that you only send 30 minutes on emails, but in reality that task is eating-up an hour of your day. The easiest way – download an app like RescueTime or Toggl to track everything you do for a week. With this information, you can then make the appropriate adjustments.
- Set a time limit to each task. Setting a time limit to each task prevents me from getting distracted or procrastinating. In a way, it becomes game to beat the clock.
- Use a to-do-list, but don’t abandon tasks. All goals and projects are made up of smaller parts that need to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal, or complete the project. Create to-do lists for each goal and project, listing all the measurable steps that need to be accomplished.
- Plan ahead. Use one of these options: 1) The night before. Before you leave work for the day, spend the last 15-minutes organizing your office and composing a list of your most important items for tomorrow. 2) First thing in the morning. During your morning routine write down the 3 or 4 most important matters that need to be addressed today.
- Spend your mornings on MITs. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” This is an effective time management trick. You usually have the most amount of energy in the AM. And you can use that feeling of accomplishment to get through the rest of the day.
- Learn to delegate/outsource. It’s hard to let someone else do work that you used to do. But delegating or outsourcing are real time-savers – which means you have more time to spend on more important tasks or doing less work. The initial investment in training will be worth-it in the end.
- Eliminate half-work. “In our age of constant distraction, it’s stupidly easy to split our attention between what we should be doing and what society bombards us with,” writes James Clear. “Usually we’re balancing the needs of messages, emails, and to–do lists at the same time that we are trying to get something accomplished. It’s rare that we are fully engaged in the task at hand.”
Clear has dubbed this “half–work” – You’re writing a report, but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason. “You’re never fully engaged in the task at hand, you rarely commit to a task for extended periods of time, and it takes you twice as long to accomplish half as much,” adds Clear. Clear has found that the best way to overcome half-work is by blocking “out significant time to focus on one project and eliminate everything else.”
- Change your schedule. One option may be as simple as changing your schedule around. For example, instead of sleeping until 6:30 am, wake-up an hour earlier. It can be the most productive time of the day with time to exercise, plan, go through emails, and even work on side projects without being disturbed. And maybe cut-down on the amount of TV that you watch.
- Leave a buffer-time between tasks and meetings. Jumping immediately from one task or meeting to the next may seem like a good use of time, but it has the opposite effect. We need time to clear our minds and recharge. Without a break it’s more difficult to stay focused and motivated. Scheduling buffer-time can prevent running late to your next meeting. Consider 15-minute buffers.
- Get organized and single-task. The average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items and over $2.7 billion annually replacing these items. Instead of wasting both time and money, get organized. Start by having a home for everything and making sure that items are put back. As the end of each day clean your workplace and create a document management system. And start single-tasking. Most people cite multitasking as the main culprit for misplacing items.
- Follow the 80-20 rule. The Pareto Principle also known as the 80-20 rule suggests that 80% of results come from 20% of the effort put in. When it comes to how you should manage your time this principle can also be applied. 80% of your results comes from 20% of your actions. Use this principle to eliminate many items on your task list and scale up effort on the most important tasks.
- Use an online calendar. Calendars have long been a fundamental tool for time management. Online calendars let you access from multiple devices, easily schedule meetings and appointments, set up reminders, create time blocks, and schedule recurring events.
- Stop being perfect. When you’re a perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough. That means you’ll keep going back to same task over and over again. How productive do you think your day will be as a result? So, stop being perfect. It doesn’t exist. Do the best you can and move on.
- Just say “No.” You can only handle so much. Be protective of your time and energy!
- Instill keystone habits. Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” coined the term “keystone habits.” Simply put, they’re habits that transform your life, such as exercising, tracking what you eat, developing daily routines and meditating. They replace bad habits and solicit other good habits. As a result, you’re healthier, more focused, and better suited to manage your time.
- Don’t waste time waiting. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or make notes on an issue.
- Telecommute. Your daily commute is getting longer. Telecommuting even twice a week can end-up saving you several hours per week.
- Find inspiration. Use inspirational sources like a TED Talk or biography. It’s a simple way to reignite that fire to get motivated and back-on-track.
- Batch similar tasks together. Schedule specific time to handle these tasks like calls and emails. The reason? Different tasks demand different types of thinking. By batching related tasks together, your brain isn’t switching gears – which means you cut out that time reorienting.
- Do less. This is a tactic from Leo Babauta. He started the blog Zen Habits and it’s definitely a must read. Doing less doesn’t mean “less is more.” It means “less is better.” This is achieved by slowing down, being aware of what needs to be done, and concentrating only on those things. Once you do, make every action count. As a result you’ll be creating more value instead of just fodder.
By John Rampton; May 1, 2018