Have you ever wondered why some people are uber-productive? You know the people who always respond to emails and finish projects on time. It's not because they work 80 hours a week.
While time management is a skill that everyone should as soon as possible, it can be strengthened at any time. And you can start by reviewing these 25 time management hacks.
1. Create a To-Do-List
Do you have an overwhelming number of tasks? Then a to-do list is an ideal way to organize your thoughts and tasks. Crossing off those completed tasks one by one is immensely satisfying as well.
If you're not much of a writer, there are online versions like Todoist,Wunderlist, and Any.do to use.
2. Schedule Your Day
Plan your entire day first thing in the morning. This includes everything from tasks like checking emails to hosting meetings to the travel time of your daily commute. As Benjamin Franklin said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!"
3. Use a Calendar App
Keeping all of your appointments in your head is ineffective. That's why the most successful people use calendar tools. Mary Callahan Erdoes, the CEO of PMorgan Asset Management, says that calendar is the single most important thing.
I created Calendar to help me be more productive. There is also Google Calendar that be used to receive reminders and remain organized. The key behind this is staying productive in the way you schedule meetings and book your time.
4. Controlled Cheating
The "The Pomodoro Technique," created by Francesco Cirillo, is one of the best time management techniques around. It works like this: 25 minutes work, then a 3-5 minute break. Do this four times.
After you've have worked four 25 minute periods take a 15-30 minute break. Then begin again, 25 minutes of work/ 3-5 minute break, with a longer break every four periods. You do this until you've completed your task or work for the day.
Believe it or, you're more productive when taking little breaks here and there. This is because you reach a point when our productivity plateaus. And we need those moments of relaxation to recharge.
5. Get Up Earlier
Do you give-in to the impulse to procrastinate? You're not alone. After all, you still manage to get everything done - eventually- right?
It's much nicer - and less stressful - to wake-up before everyone else and start tackling your day. For example, instead of responding to emails when working, you would do this first thing in the A.M. This way you can focus on your priorities.
"I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit," Richard Branson tells FourHourBodyPress. "It keeps the brain functioning well."
When does Mr. Branson find the time to work out? By waking up at 5:00 am everyday.
7. Keep Your Calendar Clear
Don't expect everyone to know your schedule. And, to be honest, they probably don't care what your schedule is like. That's why you need to have room for interruptions like the "Hey, can I ask you a question?"
8. Conduct a Weekly Review of the Week
Conducting a weekly review is an excellent time management habit to develop. The Weekly Review, via David Allen, author of the classic Getting Things Done, involves the following steps:
- Get clear by tidying your workspace and emptying your inbox. Then, review your projects and organize them by priority.
- Next, get current. This means going over your upcoming calendar, projects, actions lists,and checklists. Doing so allows you to cut out anything that's inessential.
- Finally, get creative. Review projects you've wanted to get to and find ways to slowly slip them into your schedule. And, think about how you can be more efficient, such as using time management apps.
This practice will help you plan your schedule, avoid nasty surprises, and stay on-top-of-things.
9. Don't Get Discouraged Over Wasted Time
As mentioned earlier, interruptions are bound to happen. Don't let talking to your bestie for 20 minutes make you feel you've ruined your productivity for the day. You've only been derailed temporarily, not it's time to get back on track.
10. Turn Off Email Notifications
Staying on top of your emails is important and you need to respond to them in a timely manner. However, that doesn't mean you have to respond immediately. Stopping for an email breaks your focus. Then you're concentration is bouncing between thoughts - which makes it harder to jump back-in.
This easiest way to avoid this from happening is to turn-off email notifications - do this with social media too. Then, you need to set aside specific times to check your emails. For example, I check mine within the first 30 minutes of waking-up and then in the afternoon.
11. Stop Procrastinating
Stop putting off that task you've been dreading and do it now!
Take the advice of Brian Tracy and "Eat that frog!" This is simply working on your despised task first to keep momentum going for the rest of the day.
12. Take Five
I mean five minutes prior to any call or task to decide what result you want to attain. As noted in Entrepreneur, "This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down."
"Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what's missing in your next call or activity?"
13. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking is wasteful and ineffective. It may sound counterproductive, but you'll achieve more if you singletask. This is because you'll give the task at hand your full attention.
For example, allocate one hour in the morning to work on a proposal for a client. After that, give yourself a break and work on the next priority.
14. Get Easy Wins Right Away
Tackling the hardest tasks is an excellent time management hack. But, sometimes you need to get an easy win by completing a smaller, easier task. For example, making your bed as soon as you wake-up.
This works because you got something done and it's out of the way. As a result, your brain goes, "I handled that! I can totally handle this next task too!" Don't spend all of your time on easy tasks, just when you feel discouraged.
15. Declutter and Organize
Clutter adds stress to your life and draws our attention away to the task at hand. It can even signal to our brains that our work is never done. That makes sense so you're constantly searching for the items you need.
Frequently purge the items you no longer want or need. Put everything back where it belongs. And, have some fun by listening to your favorite tunes while decluttering and organizing.
16. Find Your Groove
We all have that time of day when we're performing at our peak performance. For your, this could be after your morning cup of joe, late afternoon, or even at 2 am. Whenever it is, get as much done as possible during your peak productivity times.
Want to find your most productive time? Start by paying attention to your energy and focus levels. For me, I'm most alert and attentive in the wee hours of the morning.
Arianna Huffington takes breaks throughout the day - especially for a 20-minute meal. Huffington says, "it's more recharging than what so many of us do which is eating lunch while working."
Taking "pauses" not only boosts productivity, it decreases stress. "It just makes a difference to how the rest of your day goes."
18. Break Large Projects Into Smaller Tasks
How can you accomplish extremely large projects that seem impossible to complete? Break those large tasks down into smaller, manageable tasks. Here's one way to start.
- Look at the big picture to understand what the final product should look like.
- Determine a step-by-guide on what needs to be done.
- Think about the logical order of completing the pieces.
- Create a timeline for completing your task.
- Put the time you will spend on the project into your schedule.
- Finish early so you have time to review.
19. Don't Get Pushed Around By "Time Bullies"
These are the people that invade your time - whether if it's at home or in the office. For example, it's the client that interrupts your vacation with frequency calls or emails. Or the kids that burst into your home office during working hours.
Don't let these bullies push you around.
When you're on the clock that's your time for your work. But when it's your lunch hour, you're off-the-clock. Remember, that that time is YOURS.
There are two ways to prevent this from happening. The first is learning how to say "no" when you're busy. The other is placing a "do not disturb" sign on your door.
20. Schedule Your Work in Batches
Setting up certain days for particular work means processes will become automatic, says Elizabeth Stapleton on Due. For example:
- Monday - focus on reaching out to potential clients.
- Tuesdays writing.
- Wednesdays focus on social media - write.
- Thursdays follow up on leads - write.
- Friday - catch up.
"Batching your work makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time and get more done because you aren't constantly having to switch gears. Science has proven that every time you change to a new task there is a "retooling" process that has to take place. It also takes a lot more time than you think," adds Stapleton.
21. Learn Shortcuts
Here are some other shortcuts from Stapleton.
- Compose prewritten email responses. If they have a question about pricing, then have an automated response sending them to your price page.
- Use different prewritten email signatures for your various email accounts.
- Learn keyboard shortcuts. For instance, you can set it up where you can use initials for your business's name.
I'd also add that you make use of time automation. Due, for example, can be used to create recurring billing or send payment reminders. HubSpot can automate your marketing, like scheduling emails and social media posts. Here are a few top productivity apps I've found that will help with your time automation.
22. Set Deadlines For Everything
Giving deadlines to yourself is a tried and true way to keep you on track. Think about. Without a deadline you may be more inclined to procrastinate on said task.
Personally, if have something due on a Friday, i make sure it's done by Thursday. This not only alleviates stress, it also gives me time to review it.
23. Delegate or Outsource
Despite wanting to do it all, Bill Smith, founder and CEO of Shipt, knows that this is impossible. "I know there are some areas of my work life that are best to pass off so I can keep focused on what is most important. Hiring a fantastic executive assistant is crucial.
"It may be difficult at first, but let this person manage straightforward, time consuming tasks."
Don't have that person on your team? Then consider outsourcing certain tasks, such as bookkeeping, to a freelancer.
24. Get Creative
"I'm always trying to maximize my time," says "Shark Tank" investor Daymond John. "For example, I'll do my emails when I'm on a plane, instead of when I'm in the office.
I try to have my team members handle as much of the meetings as possible -- I'll be involved in the last part so I don't have to sit through five separate meetings of the same purpose. And when I have personal interaction, I try to maximize that as well."
25. End Your Day on a Good Note
Review your day. What did you miss out on? Determine the reasoning behind it so that you won't make the same mistakes again.
However, also think about what went awesome and make a note of it. For instance, how did you write a blog article ahead of schedule? Ending your day on that high note will encourage you to do the same the next day.