We all have the same limitation. Many of us wish we could fit another twelve hours into the day. Even those of us with excellent time management skills still might have the desire to accomplish more.
It’s one of the biggest issues we face, whether in the workplace or personal life: figuring out how to manage our time better.
Managing your time better requires you to evaluate what’s already on your schedule, prioritize your tasks, and make empowered choices to change direction in the areas you need to. Bad habits require breaking, and positive routines require development and reinforcement.
Millions of people every day face the same frustration. The good news is that there is an answer to the time-management problem. We’ll look at some techniques you can apply to help you find a good productivity system!
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Things that Hinder your Productivity
You have to dig deep and consider the details in order to pinpoint what affects your time management negatively. Even the seemingly minor interruptions may affect your productivity in a big way that you may not even realize.
Once you know your activities inside and out, you can identify what’s hindering you and figure out how to improve your time management for your productivity system.
Here are a couple of symptoms or patterns to look out for.
How many times have you been late to work or an important appointment you knew about two weeks ago? Aside from how poor punctuality affects those around you, it can also influence your mentality.
Arriving or starting late can push you into a rushed mindset. You’re already missing time so you may feel the need to make up for it.
While some may work better under pressure, you may be prone to missing or overlooking something. You may have to redo a task, causing you to waste more time.
Speaking of feeling rushed, you may be forced into a tight spot. The less time you have, as with any resource, the more you’ll have to sacrifice.
Whether it be quality or quantity, something will suffer. You won’t have the time to consider your tasks deeply. With less time, you won’t be able to accomplish as much.
You might think that jumping from task to task will allow you to work on more things in a given time frame. However, multitasking has been proven to decrease work productivity.
While stopping a task momentarily to start another may seem small, the constant behavior of switching between tasks adds up in time costs. You’re shutting down your brain for an activity and activating new rules for another activity.
When you force your brain to start and stop so much, you’re not able to focus and make as much progress as you could make.
You might have heard the saying, “If you want something done well, do it yourself.” The problem is you can’t do everything by yourself, especially as your workload increases.
As you take on more responsibilities, you realize that some tasks are more important than others. Some tasks won’t help you progress as much as others.
If you can delegate or outsource to others, it can take a load off of your plate. It saves you from allocating a portion of your limited resources.
Your time is better spent focusing on tasks that provide more value or tasks that allow you to accomplish more.
Some days can seem extremely busy. You feel like you barely have a moment to breathe. However, if you haven’t accomplished much or moved forward, you could be stuck with merely keeping yourself busy.
Of course, even if you don’t have tasks to delegate, you may still find yourself in the purgatory of busywork. Staying busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re productive nor does it mean you’re managing your time well.
Similar to delegating, it’s a matter of focusing on high-value tasks. What activities move you toward your goal?
Ways to Improve Your Productivity
By understanding the symptoms and the patterns of poor time management, you can begin to address them. Make a concentrated effort on tackling the things that hinder your productivity.
Here are some techniques to strengthen your productivity system.
Track your time
Simply use the timer or an app on your phone or computer, and note the time you take to complete each task. Record your times over a couple of days so you can get a good sense of how long a task will typically take.
Consider the duration of each task and whether you can decrease the time to completion. Think about how you’re working on the task. Is there a better way? What about external factors that might affect your productivity?
Set Time Blocks
Instead of multitasking, set time blocks in your schedule. Otherwise, quickly write it down on a notepad or take note on your note-taking app, and get back to it after you finish your current task.
Essentially, you need to “make an appointment” with each task. Don’t double book! Can you imagine if you had an appointment for a haircut, and your barber or hairstylist told you, “I’ll be working on yours and another customer’s”?
Give your undivided attention to one task at a time.
Just Say No
Many of us want to be a good team player, so we’ll accept any and all requests that come our way. It’s tempting to accept more workload than you can handle in hopes of standing out.
Piling more on your plate can prevent you from clearing the important tasks that you were originally assigned to you. Realistically, it slows you down.
When turning down a request for help from others, you can mention that you’re finishing up a task and you can help once you’re done. If you’re responding to a manager, you can ask whether your current task or the new request should take priority.
Turn Off Notifications
Checking constant social media alerts, emails and texts breaks your concentration. If you’re expecting important messages, then configure your phone settings to shut off all the other notifications.
Set specific times to check your messages and notifications like during your break. If you have to, turn off your devices altogether or step away from them. This way you can fully focus on what you need to accomplish without the distractions.
Create Deadlines for Yourself
Sometimes you have to be your own pushy manager or create pressure for yourself. Setting time limits on your tasks will prevent them from lingering around.
Your target dates will motivate you to complete your tasks before your deadlines. Set reasonable but urgent deadlines. Schedule your deadlines in a way that keep them at the forefront of your mind and in your priorities.
Take a Step Back and Assess
We live in such a fast-paced world, that taking a step back to assess your how you work can feel impossible. If you take the time to look at how you’re working, you can identify adjustments that you might need to make. You can actually save yourself some time and increase your productivity.
Create an Action Plan for Your Goals
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