Quick Time Management Tips to Boost Productivity and Improve Your Life
Get more done without having to spend more time and effort on what you are doing with quick time management tips to boost productivity.
Being productive is hard, but there are certain time management tips which will turbo charge your productivity. There is always more to do in a day than seems to be achievable with the constant distractions all around you. These time management tips will help you to take control, and will allow you to boost productivity and improve your personal wellbeing. Being productive isn’t about working more. These tips will help you get more done without having to spend more time and effort on what you are doing. The popular perception of time management is of boring lined planners and of frantically working to complete deadlines but that shouldn’t be the reality. These time management tips allow you to focus on what you really need to do, leaving more time for you to spend on what you want to do and getting the most out of life.
Plan and Prepare In Advance
Prepare a list every day of what you want to achieve, generally the day before (I list everything the night before), you could do this in the form of a to do list but many people find that bullet journals are the best. Bullet journals are a great tool for boosting your productivity and it only requires a blank notebook—there are some fantastic videos on YouTube which can get you started. I have only recently started using a bullet journal and really wish I had started one sooner, it’s easily boosted my productivity by 100 percent. The best thing about bullet journals is that there is no set way to use it, some people’s journals are absolutely beautiful (and fairly intimidating—don’t let Pinterest stop you) while others (mine included) are hastily written scrawls.
Set Reasonable Tasks
Make sure all your tasks are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based).
- Specific—“What do you want to do?”
- Measurable—“How will you know you are finished?”
- Achievable—“Can you actually do this?”
- Realistic—“Is this sensible?”
- Time-based—“When is my deadline for completion?”
By setting SMART tasks you will be able to work more effectively, as you will waste less time wondering what it is you need to do. It’s critical that all your tasks are SMART otherwise these time management tips will be much less effective.
There is an old saying in management, "If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” I am highlighting the importance of this point because it’s critical. How will you know when your task is done? If you don’t know when you will be finished, create milestones to indicate you moving forward. If you don’t have milestone and are continually measuring your performance your task could be a “time drain” and simply a waste of your valuable time. I use graphs within my bullet journal to mark my performance within certain tasks, but mainly for tasks I procrastinate from such as housework.
Don’t only write your tasks down but put reminders and alarms in your phone to help you get them done. Often when there is an important task which needs to be done but little urgency is applied to it, it’s incredibly hard to get started. By setting deadlines and creating a framework to create artificial urgency, we can give ourselves the momentum to get it done. Google Calendar is a great free tool for this and will link with your mobile phone. It might also be a good idea not just to set deadlines for the week and month but during the day, so that you get a notification at noon or at 2:00 or whatever time that an individual task is due.
Find Your “Time Drains”
This is one of the fastest acting time management tips (if you implement it). Simply find what you are wasting your time on. Procrastination is a hard habit to break as we are fighting against ourselves—try to monitor and measure what you are doing when you are procrastinating. If you are an online procrastinator like me, add the websites you waste your time on to a timed website blocker like LeechBlock (available for Firefox and Chrome). I have two lists of websites, one which is blocked between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM and another with websites such as Wikipedia where I have a “block timer” on 30 min in every hour.
Often, I find myself unconsciously attempting to go on my blocked websites, thankfully the LeechBlock blocking page really wakes me up and gets me back onto the task at hand.
Accept You Can’t Do Everything
With modern technology, the array of things we can spend our time on is amazing, but you need to accept that you can’t do it all. Not even Superman can achieve all the things he wants to in a day. Because of this it’s important to be realistic about what you want to achieve. Doing this will make you feel better about yourself, will keep the procrastination monster at bay, and will improve your productivity by getting more done. We work best when we are not rushing to complete everything and by being kind to ourselves by giving ourselves sufficient breaks. No time management tips will turn you into a robot able to work a full 24 hours a day without any procrastination.
Avoid Stress/Overwhelming Yourself
The more stressed we are, the easier it is to create excuses for not starting a task. The more we put off a task the more overwhelmed and the more stressed we become. We can overcome this by being realistic about our work and planning and taking regular breaks. Breaking tasks into smaller chunks is the best way to deal with being overwhelmed, as we make the task much more manageable—break the task up using your bullet journal or planner. Studies have shown that we work much more effectively when our tasks are chunked, cleaning a garage is stressful but it isn’t so bad if you do it one box at a time.
Take Regular Breaks/Find Time For Rest
Without regular breaks, procrastination can creep up on you. To combat this take regular breaks. The best method I have found for staying focused and rested is the Pomodoro method, simply work in blocks of 25 minutes with a five minute break. After you work four blocks, take a longer 20 minute break. You can use your breaks as a way to do something completely different from the task you are working on or you can use it as a means of organized procrastination. During work you will often have a bunch of other thing you would rather be doing. Why not use your break to do these?
My grandmother used to say “The best part of the day is gone by lunchtime,” and it’s true. Achievers wake up early, from Elon Musk to Apple’s Tim Cook. These people wake up before 6:00 AM to exercise, look after their body, and send emails. If you are thinking you need more time in the day, maybe it’s time to start waking up earlier. Get into the habit of waking up early to start work and exercise (yes, it’s horrible at first), and you will really thank yourself for it. There are lots of great resources online, I would also recommend the book Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.