Many of us are looking for ways to increase productivity. This topic has been covered by many studies, books, and articles. Almost all of these studies come down to one thing – time management. Most experts agree, that mastering time management is critical for those who wish to become more productive.
If you are new to time management, it might be tricky to decide where to start with. The amount of tips and the recommendations on the Internet is really overwhelming. So we have reviewed the massive Internet knowledge and produced a list of the best techniques to help you to start with time management.
1. Make lists
Every time management system in the world involves making and using lists. Our memory is limited, so don’t rely on it solely. Create lists of daily tasks, of people to call or of monthly goals. Priorities the items in your list by importance to know which one you should start with. There is a helpful time management matrix by Stephen Covey that helps to sort the tasks by the urgency and importance.
2. Start with the most important tasks
After making a list, identify few most important tasks and complete them first. Even if this is all you do on this day it is still a success because you’ve completed the most important things on your list.
3. Stick to a schedule
Make a schedule for the week for each day. Reserve time slots for all your activities. It will keep you focused and increase your efficiency. With the schedule, you won’t be wasting time thinking about what to do next.
Make sure to save time for relaxing and for any unplanned activities on your schedule. We’re humans and things hardly ever go 100% as scheduled with us. Planning some downtime will help you to restore the energy.
4. Learn to say “no”
The common time management mistake is having too many commitments that you can’t realistically do on time. It’s great if you can juggle multiple projects at once, but our resources are limited and it’s easy to take it too far. So you have to learn to say “no” to some things. The prioritization by time management matrix is going to help you to identify tasks that you can safely say “no” to.
5. Group similar tasks together
It is efficient to batch similar tasks (like make some phone calls or write blog posts) together and work on them one by one. Different tasks require different types of thinking. So grouping similar tasks save your energy on switching between different types of thinking and trying to regain the focus.
6. Decrease the number of meetings
Meetings aren’t the best way to get something done. Sure they help to have a discussion or check on your team’s progress but meetings often tend to turn around as time wasters. If you really need a meeting to keep it brief and focused.
7. Reduce distractions & regain focus
Find the ways to block distractions that work for you. It may be finding a quiet place in the corner, putting some light music or launching a special app to block social media. Concentrate and direct all your attention and energy to the task at hand. Try not to think about anything else. It’s just you and your task in that particular moment.
8. Make your idle time efficient
We have a lot of downtime throughout the day – riding on the subway, standing in the line in the shop or sitting in the doctor’s waiting area. It can last only 10 minutes but these are 10 minutes that you could spend on something useful instead. So take this time to do things that help you grow. Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch an educational video. The Internet makes the entire knowledge of humankind available on your device. It’s up to you to learn a tiny piece of it.
9. Keep a timesheet
Time tracking can be extremely helpful for your productivity. It gives you a realistic view of where your time goes. You could see if your time expenses match the priorities that you set. Try to track time for a month and you’ll be surprised at how much time is wasted on things you had no idea about.
Use these techniques to start with time management. Be consistent, patient and open-minded. It’s not an easy task to rearrange your entire working process but doing so will make you more efficient and productive.