Seven Time Management Skills That Will Help Improve Your Productivity

July 4, 2018 by  

Everyone gets the same twenty-four hours each day, however, making productive use of that time can mean the difference between getting things done or simply scrambling to keep up. The following time management tips will help you streamline your day, get more done, and ultimately give you more time do the things you really want.

1. Do a time audit of a typical day.
At the end of your workday do you wonder where the time went? Maybe you wish you could have managed to accomplish much more than you did? You could be wasting more time than you realize and they could well be a discrepancy between how you think you spend your time and how you actually spend it. That is why doing a time audit of your day could be very helpful in determining where you can improve the use of your time.

This is a simple method for conducting a time audit.
• Use a timer that you can set to go off every thirty minutes. (The alarm app on your phone could do the trick.)
• Begin the timer and proceed to go about your day but try not to think about the timer, rather just let it run.
• When the timer goes off, write down what you are doing at that very moment no matter what it is.
• Set the timer for another thirty minutes and repeat the process until the end of your day.
• Then, review how you have spent your time and how truly productive you were or not.
• Try conducting this audit every day for a week in order to get a true overview of how you are actually spending your time. You can decide to vary the time between check-ins so that you don’t begin to anticipate the alarm going off every thirty minutes, instead do it for 40 or 45 minutes. You may discover that you have been spending too much time checking emails, scrolling through your social media feeds, or chatting with co-workers. In the end, you will know where you have to make adjustments and how to better schedule some of those tasks throughout your day in order to be more efficient and productive.

2. Develop a means to block out distractions.
Now that you have a better idea of what’s distracting you, you can develop some strategies to get rid of at least some of those distractions. For example, if social media is your downfall, you can try using a productivity app that blocks online distractions. If you are working on a writing project, try going into fullscreen mode to prevent yourself from opening tabs or answering desktop notifications. You can also turn off your notifications and turn off the sound on your computer, too as you really do not need to know every time a new email arrives or you are contacted on social media. Instead, you can set aside a specific time frame to check those new additions, once the key things you have to deal with have been taken care of.

3. Set up a schedule for yourself.
Instead of worrying about how you will be able to fit all your tasks into the average workday, if you plan and prioritize the pieces you will be more efficient and productive instead of feeling stressed and having to work overtime to stay ahead of timelines. Once you have chunked up your projects and prioritized the chunks according to importance, your stress will disappear and you will be able to much more easily meet your deadlines. Just make sure your to-do lists are not overwhelming as you can only accomplish so much in a day and will only frustrate yourself if you make the lists unreasonable. Every email does not need to be answered as soon as it arrives, this is another area where prioritizing can help you. Having a good plan for your day will make much better use of your workday as you will be able to spend time on the elements that are key to moving you faster toward your goals.

4. Avoid multitasking, it is a myth.
You may think you are a good multitasker, but here is the thing, multitasking is a myth because your brain takes 15-20 minutes to line up the necessary neurons to do any task at a high level of performance. Every time you are distracted by another job, you are pulling away some of those necessary neurons to set up for the next task. Therefore, by the time you are doing three or four or more things at once, you are actually doing none of them very well which is not efficient or productive as you will have to revisit most of them to “fix them” because they were not done very well. Hence, it is much more efficient to focus your efforts on one task at a time. Do it well and then move on to the next one. Or, you can group similar tasks so that you can use the right neurons that you have already lined up. Perhaps you can keep a small notebook handy and if you suddenly remember another task you need to do, write it down and then you can get to it when you are done with the current job.

5. Insist that others respect your time.
If you have decided that there are certain things that you have to complete this morning, then let your colleagues know that between 9:00 and 11:00 am you will be unavailable for phone calls, meetings or emails but will attend to them after 11:00 am. For example, if you have a “chatty colleague” just let them know, respectfully, that right now you cannot chat, however, you would be happy to speak with them over lunch after 12 today or over coffee at 3:00 pm. If a meeting is scheduled that you really do not need to attend, then let them know that you will be working on a pressing and current task so can get a summary from one of the attendees later. There is nothing wrong with letting people know that you need certain blocks of time to uninterrupted so that you can accomplish what you need to in order to be productive and meet your deadlines.

6. Keep your “call to action” in mind.
If you want to be productive with your time, be sure you are clear on what you want to accomplish with that meeting or phone call before you embark upon it. Decide ahead of time what outcome you wish to achieve so that you can be prepared for the encounter and get what you need from it.

7. Be sure to fit in sufficient downtime and rest.
There have been studies that show that lack of sleep causes more mistakes and impeded productivity and cognitive functions are negatively affected when you are sleep-deprived. That means that you need at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you get that you will feel more refreshed and better able to concentrate so you will be more productive, make fewer mistakes and be able to focus more effectively. In addition, vacations are also beneficial as taking time to relax, disconnect from technology and spend time with family and friends also helps our focus and concentration. Following a wonderful vacation, you come back refreshed, renewed and ready to get back to work in a creative and meaningful way.

So try to follow the suggestions described above and you will be better able to make more productive use of your time and be more successful in all aspects of your life.

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