Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day or more days in the week? Sometimes it seems we just can’t fit everything in that we want or need to get done. Nobody enjoys the feeling of rushing, running late, forgetting things, and feeling unaccomplished. While we can’t do anything to create more time, we can practice a few basic principals to better manage the time we do have. This blog post will give you a few ideas to try out so that at the end of the day you feel like the rock star you were born to be!
Mission Statement and Goals
Time is truly the greatest equalizer. We all have the exact same amount of time, 24 hours in a day, seven days a week! Every successful business has a mission statement and goals. Challenge yourself to come up with your individual mission statement and goals too. Once you have identified your mission statement and goals, think about whether the activities you are engaging in line up with the mission statement and goals. Every activity you engage in should move you closer to your goals and should align with your mission statment. Remember this when you say “yes” to something that takes up your time. Everytime you say “yes” to something, you are essentially saying “no” to something else. Practice saying “no” more often and “yes” more slowly so that the “yes” activities bring you closer to your goals and fit in with your mission statement.
Pro tip: If you struggle with this concept, try completing a time tracking exercise. List all of your activies during the day in 30 minute increments. Then, rank your tasks A, B, and C with “A” being activities that do follow your goals/mission statement and “C” being the opposite. Evaluate at the end of each day.
Hopefully, you have more “A’s” than “C’s.”
Use a System to Manage Tasks and Projects
We are all busy with tasks to do each day. Tasks may include phone calls, emails, errands, appointments, etc. It’s difficult for our brains to keep track of everything when it’s bombarded with images and messages all day long. But, remember, busy doesn’t always mean productive! Therefore, start with a big “brain dump” and get everything out of your head and onto paper or an electronic system. List all of your projects and tasks and write down the next three tasks for each project. When you have the opportunity, you’ll be better able to jump to the next task and project if you have an organized list in front of you versus trying to recall information that is in your brain only. The end result is that we can be more productive and our tasks/projects seem less intimidating and overwhelming, and therefore we generate more motivation and momentum.
Pro tip: If you like electronic lists, check out Wunderlist or Evernote.
Batching and Time Blocking
Batching means grouping specific tasks that go together while time blocking means that you “block” a chunk of time in your schedule to work on batched tasks. Instead of checking email and voicemail randomly during the day, try batching and time blocking. For example, read and reply to emails during 8-10 am and 4-5 pm or listen to and respond to voicemails from 10-11 am. This does require some discipline, but the end result is that you will be more focused and present on the tasks and activities that you said “yes” to that align with the goals you established for the day.
Pro tip: Did you know that interruptions take up 28% of your day! Be proactive, not reactive! Defer interruptions by turning off email and phone notifications.
Set a Timer
If you struggle with getting started on tasks, try setting a timer. Timers can help you combat procrastination, avoid interruption, and help you focus on a task without interruption. Consider setting a timer at the beginning of your day and tackling your “biggest bang for your buck” project/task. Getting this started and completed will have a positive impact on your day. No matter what happens after that, you will know that you at least crossed this item off your list.
Pro tip: One technique to apply the timer is called the Pomodoro Principle. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work steadily on your project or task. At the end of the 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break to clear your head, check email, etc. You can cycle through this 30 minute sequence several times to maximize your productivity and avoid interruptions.
Many of us try to fool ourselves that we are more productive when multitasking when in fact multitasking, slows us down, decreases our accuracy, and increases stress! It can be difficult to eliminate multitasking, but here are a few things you can try:
- Learn to focus
- Get enough sleep, exercise, nutrition,
- Take breaks
- Have a plan and set your priorities for the week and each day
- At the end of each day, create a list of tasks/projects for the following day
Which of these strategies will you try out this month? For some of us, managing our paper flow slows us down and affects our ability to manage our time effectively. Did you read last month’s blog post? That post provided tips for reducing paper piles and creating a system to manage incoming and outgoing paper! Click here for “How to Avoid Paper Piles Once and For All.”