All of us young or seasoned professionals have all been through moments in our lives that our time management skills were severely lacking in efficiency. This can happen due to having too much on your plate that you feel like you’re just zooming through everything, literally for a lack of better words. The problem with this is, if you don’t take the time to recenter yourself into a productive system, then you will just find yourself going through an endless loop of inefficiency.
Below are some points that I have compiled together that I feel are universally the most effective techniques to practice and master. You have probably heard of a few of these before, but no harm in refreshing your memory. I strongly recommend writing these down in your notebook and then make a plan for yourself to follow these best practices.
Also please keep in mind that not all humans are built the same. Some strategies don’t work for everyone and not everyone can start their day at 5am. Treat this process as a trial and error until you find the sweet spot that suits you best. Take a look at this easy to follow list that I have compiled for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Have you ever gone through an entire work day and think to yourself, how did I ONLY accomplish this amount of work when I know I could have completed everything on my to-do list? You’re not alone and honestly it could be a number of things. Here’s a technique you can use to combat this.
For one week, preferably at the beginning of the week, at every hour of the day take the time to write down what you did. Be as detailed as you can and please be honest as well. This assessment is for your eyes only anyway. At the end of the week, review your notes and see where improvements can be done. You will be able to see if you have to take less time on social media, delegate tasks, automate tasks and so on.
Pre-scheduling is your friend. If you’re in the habit of writing out your daily tasks the same morning you’re working, then this is something you will have to change. Get into the habit of planning your week, a week in advance, preferably on Sundays. Be specific about your planning and honor your schedule and to-do lists without any exception. You are the guardian of your time!
Get into the habit of grouping similar tasks together. Also, figure out when your peak hours are during the day so you can complete your most difficult tasks.
When you’re done planning your week, take some time to do some decluttering as well. Organize your desk, papers, email inbox and computer files. Take care of yourself by creating a clutter free environment before you start a new week of working.
This point might be difficult for some, especially if watching television or playing video games is your form of relaxation. Reducing your television time means increasing time doing something productive or helpful to yourself. For example reading, going to the gym or doing one of your hobbies.
These are all things that should be included into your daily routine to craft you into a more productive person. Television does not provide any benefit towards that goal. The ideal allocated time allowed to watch television is usually 0 to 5 hours per week. Remember, not everyone is built the same.
If you like watching an hour or so of television in the evenings, then just make sure it is not sabotaging you in any way. If you feel like it affects your productivity, then it’s time to make some adjustments. Trial and error!
It’s a very common problem to over-schedule yourself and not have time to finish tasks efficiently or even on time. You have to be honest with yourself with how much time certain tasks will take. Always allocate a reasonable amount of extra time because there is always a reason why a task takes longer than it should.
If you set your pre-schedule realistically, then you shouldn’t find yourself stuck in a situation of being overbooked again and working 16 hour days.
Having a huge project on your to-do list can really make you procrastinate. It can make you feel like you want to get rid of other small tasks first and then devote a whole day or two to your big project. That…does not work.
What you can do it break down a big project into micro tasks. This way you can chip away steadily and efficiently until the whole project is done. It is less intimidating this way.
Learn how to relax, don’t be in a rush to burn yourself out. You have to learn how to relax and take breaks when they are due to regain your focus. Try the Pomodoro Technique to help set a daily working and time blocking routine for yourself:
A lot of people get into the habit of just saying yes to everything. If you’re working freelance then this would be especially common since you feel like you want to get all the projects that you can get your hands on. If someone wants to hire you and you see your schedule is booked, it is okay to just say no. Another thing you can do is explain that you’re busy right now but offer a date that you can start their work.
Another situation that you can say no to is if someone wants to work with you that doesn’t fit your ideal client persona. Avoid putting yourself in a situation of working with someone that doesn’t share your values. This is a problem waiting to happen.
If your goal is to wake up every morning feeling refreshed and ready to go, then you need to be getting a proper amount of sleep. The ideal would be if you are getting 7-8 hours per night. This allows your body to fully relax and rejuvenate itself.
We are always more productive when we are healthy and fit. No need to pressure yourself too much, work out with the intention of feeling good. If you spend most of your time sitting down at your desk, then working out is essential at least every other day to keep your blood flowing and your mind sharp.
The Pareto Principle. Essentially this means finding the 20% of effort that give you 80% of your results. The point of this is to figure out what that 20% consists of and use that for your basis of scaling your business and productivity. Spend some time tracking and analyzing your work and results to figure this out.
Commuting time is a prime example for this. If you’re spending time driving, listen to an audio book or podcast. If you’re taking the bus or something similar, you can read, write or check your emails. If you’re waiting in line for something, you can check your emails.
Use this extra time as a bonus to get micro tasks out of the way.
So as you can see, these productivity techniques are not that difficult to follow. Although its easier to read about it than actually making a commitment, I am aware of that. You have to think about how important it is to you to become more productive and then take action. You have 5 seconds to change your life, don’t put things off, just do it.
The goal here is to create good daily habits and be consistent about them until they become a thoughtless routine. Remember to leave a buffer time in between tasks to appreciate what you just accomplished. Soak in the fact that you’re a rock star and pat yourself on the back for it, no shame.
Most importantly, make sure you have time at the end of your day to wind down and relax. Be conscious of yourself and take care of your mind. You’ve got this!
If you need help being accountable or need a kickstart into your new productive habits, then let’s connect.