We all have the same 24 hours a day, but why do some people manage to achieve more in a day than others? How can they do so much more work in such a short time? The simple answer to these questions is efficient Time Management.
Whether you work in an office or at home, the chances that there will be days when you feel completely unproductive are very high. During this pandemic – where we all are locked up inside our homes – it is easy for our minds to wander off and postpone tasks from our to-do list. However, by doing so, we often end up completing tasks that take up our time but do not add any value to our lives or our goals either. Instead, this creates additional work for us. The improvement of your productivity is a vital step towards success.
Don’t worry, today, we are presenting you with a very simple guideline to enhance your time management skills.
Table of contents
- How does Time Management Improve Productivity?
- Time Management Strategies to Supercharge Your Productivity
How does Time Management Improve Productivity?
Time management is the way how we plan and distribute our time between tasks in order to maximize productivity and achieve objectives. Good time management leads to decreased stress levels and improved work performance and life satisfaction.
A few things you must understand, time management helps you work smarter not harder. While some people naturally have an easier time managing their time than others, everyone can develop habits that will help them manage their time more effectively. Without effective time management, your work and wellbeing will suffer and could result to:
- Producing poor quality work
- Missing deadlines
- Increasing your stress levels
- Ruining your work-life balance
- Harming your professional reputation
- Develop unproductive habits
- Lack of focus and bad habits
- Lack of professionalism
“Time is an irreplaceable asset. It is more valuable than money, especially in today’s fast-paced, overly competitive business world. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time. Be sure that you spend your time where it matters most to you.”
Not only does the ability to manage your time more successfully sets you up for a productive and efficient day. It enhances your professional image by making you appear more trustworthy, organized, and reliable – all of which are highly sought-after characteristics of top achievers. Combine a few proven time-management strategies with a ‘can-do’ attitude, and you can achieve anything. The sky is the limit!
Time Management Strategies to Supercharge Your Productivity
1. Pick the Right Calendar Management Tools
Choosing the right calendar organizer for yourself is key.
Digital or online calendar app like Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar is defacto now. People use a digital calendar to organize everything from their everyday to-do list to arranging important tasks like conferences and meetings.
To track your estimated and actual hours for each task on Google Calendar or in any digital calendars, you need to integrate it with any time tracking apps or software through a browser extension. There are several apps that will help you integrate your google calendar events for calendar time tracking and analysis. However, with more than 100,000+ users, the calendar app we recommend is TimeTackle.
TimeTackle is a time tracking tool that allows you to monitor your time spent on tasks in real-time and analyzes whether you are behind schedule or if you’ve met your objectives in time. It enables easy integration of many calendars from one central calendar. Saving you the hassle of tracking multiple task lists manually and allowing you to track meetings in new and creative ways. You can see everything simultaneously and at a glance.
What makes TimeTackle special is that it caters to all types of users’ time management needs. You can use TimeTackle’s automated Google Calendar to Ms Excel, Google Sheets, or CVS exporter and automate your time tracking and exporting process. TimeTackle streamlines your exporting process and uses Google API to open your Google Calendar ICS file in MS Excel, Google Sheets, CSV, or even PDF. This saves loads of time and allows you to format and filter calendar data in different intuitive ways to streamline your event organizing process.
2. Filter Out the Busywork
First things first: before you even think about opening your email, make sure you have a written-out to-do list. Prioritize your task list in order of importance, and stick to it like a mollusc to a rock. This five-minute break before you start working can give back hours of time that would otherwise be spent mulling over what to do next.
A great technique to prioritize work is by considering its impact on the broader project, comparing time against cost/ROI and urgency. If you are often waiting for your coworkers to complete their tasks in order for you to progress with your work, then you must concentrate on prioritizing work so that everyone can work with urgency and finish their tasks in due time.
The elusive thing we call ‘focus’ can be cultivated; it just requires a few conscious attitude adjustments to how we approach our tasks. Another method of prioritizing your workload is to understand your own work patterns. Some people like to start working early in the morning whereas others like to crunch all night. There is no perfect ideal work pattern, find out which working style suits you the best.
Productivity & Time Management Technique Guru Brain Tracy said:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
There are important but disagreeable duties, such as arranging your events, replying back to customer complaints, that you do not want to spend too much time on. You will either take too much time before you do these things, or you will spend too much time while you do these things.
So Brain Tracy suggests starting our day with the most daunting job or simply the most unpleasant task that we lack the motivation to complete first thing in the morning.
3. Create a Dynamic To-do List
You are happily working your way through your to-do list, finishing all the difficult tasks in due time. Then all of a sudden, you are given a curveball- a ‘this is extremely urgent the deadline is tomorrow’ job comes in. Your entire to-do list crumbles and everything might feel like a disaster. The key to avoiding this situation is creating a dynamic task list or a flexible to-do list. When a new job comes in, take five minutes to assess the task’s priority, then add it to your list. Be flexible, and allow your list to be the same.
When you keep a flexible plan, there are a few things to keep in mind before you about-face.
- Make your schedule available so that others can know where you are at and what you are working on. This avoids them interrupting you with progress queries and demonstrates that you haven’t forgotten about them.
- Recognize your impact on the job. Are you able to delegate the work, or does it require your immediate attention? Do you need to monitor it as it develops, or can you trust others to handle it?
- Take a deliberate approach. Consider utilizing a real-time project management application that allows you to colour-code and archive completed tasks.
4. Avoid Multitasking
It is alluring to do more in less time when the reward is more free time. However, research suggests that trying to do two or more jobs at once can hinder your productivity.
As you use different portions of your brain for various tasks, continuously switching between them can strain your brain more quickly. Think about what happens to the processor of your laptop when you run too many apps/software at once. It hangs or slows down sometimes. The same applies to your brain.
In fact, a Stanford study indicated that people who multitask don’t recall anything. So try and close tabs, programs, or windows that don’t necessarily have to be there next time you’re on a video conversation.
Mike Gardner, aka The Time Doctor, suggests
‘Don’t read every email as soon as it pops into your inbox – set a specific time for returning phone calls and emails. If you’re expected to respond quickly, you may want to schedule several times each day to do this, but don’t leave it open-ended.’
We understand it’s tempting to check your social media, or refresh your inbox casually, or send humorous messages between meetings to friends. But if you continue to do this it will only increase your cognitive load and exacerbate your fatigue or as most commonly known as “Zoom Fatigue”. You may remain more concentrated by decreasing the immediate availability of distractions. Take short breaks to check your socials instead of periods of boredom or frustration.
To know more about “Zoom Fatigue” check out our other blog: How to avoid Zoom Fatigue? 9 Tips That Actually Help Manage Zoom Fatigue Effectively
5. Procrastinate with Purpose
Procrastination has a bad reputation in time management as it is linked with laziness. However, one thing most of us clearly ignore, which is that procrastinators are rarely idle. They simply devote their time and energy to jobs that are not of the utmost importance.
Stanford University philosopher, Dr. John Perry, invented the term ‘Structured Procrastination.’ He believed that procrastination might be beneficial and he was right. His 1995 essay, Structured Procrastination, went on to win the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature.
“Structured procrastination necessitates some degree of self-deception, as one is essentially continually executing a pyramid scheme on oneself.” -John Perry, M.D.
His secret to productivity is to assign yourself something significant and truly intimidating and utilize it to accomplish less essential chores.
He further adds,
“One must be able to identify and commit to things of exaggerated importance and unrealistic deadlines while convincing oneself that they are critical and urgent.” This is not a problem because almost all procrastinators also have excellent self-deceptive skills. And what could be more honorable than utilizing one character’s weaknesses to mitigate the negative consequences of another? “
In other words, play mind games with your brain. Combat fire with fire and assignment with the assignment until something is accomplished. Instead of attempting to modify your rebellious character defect, positively harness it. Take five or ten minutes and create your own highly urgent task list and trick your own procrastination into doing something actually productive.
6. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique scientifically-backed time management strategy, which was invented in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo.
“I discovered that you could learn how to improve your effectiveness and be better able to estimate how long a task will take to complete by recording how you utilize your time.” – Francesco Cirillo
The Pomodoro Technique is perfect if you are always getting sidetracked while working on a project or if you want to calculate the time taken to finish a task. It’s an excellent choice for a variety of tasks, including writing, coding, design, and learning. Additionally, the strategy also works if you have a lot of repetitious work to complete, such as wading through a packed inbox.
The strategy uses a timer to divide tasks into intervals of approximately 25 minutes each, followed by short breaks. Each interval is referred to as a Pomodoro, after the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used as a university student.
The Pomodoro Technique:
- Pick a project you want to concentrate on
- Set the timer for 25 minutes, and focus on the single task until the timer rings. ⏰
- When the timer ends, put one Pomodoro 🍅 and enjoy a 5-minute break
- After every four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15–30 minutes and reset your Pomodoro count to zero, and start from step 1 again. 🍎
Simply knowing you’re working toward a goal — 5 or 30 minutes of distraction time — should be plenty to motivate you. To even sweeten the bargain, spend those 5-30 minutes doing something you know you enjoy, such as getting a cup of coffee, taking a walk, or reading a book.
7. Use the 80-20 Rule
The 80-20 rule, commonly known as the Pareto Principle, was coined by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered that approximately 80% of output is determined by only 20% of its inputs.
Utilize this knowledge to ascertain which activities constitute the remaining 20%.
Imagine the following situation: you are an agency owner seeking clients. You spend 30 minutes per day emailing potential customers and an hour per day communicating and managing the business’s social media accounts. Only one client was introduced to you via social media, whereas five were acquired via email. It is very obvious that if you want to maximize your customer base, you should focus more time on email outreach than on social media.
The 80-20 rule can be used by anyone to determine how to spend their time. If you are not sure of which tasks belong in your 20%, you should do a time audit or use a time monitoring tool to determine which activities have the most impact and use the most time. Using a time tracking tool is the simplest way to do a time audit. There are a lot of free time tracking services, but we recommend TimeTackle. TimeTackle provides the simplest and versatile time tracking services in the market. Track everything you do for a week, from getting lunch to attending important conferences, to get an accurate picture of your time utilization. And through this, you can easily find areas to improve.
To know more about Calendar Analytics and TimeTackle’s features visit the link: TimeTackle Features
Time is out of your control. It moves forward no matter what. However, tasks are well within your control.
Organization boils down to having a decent set of time management strategies in place. This includes taking a disciplined approach to your worklist and saying ‘no’ when required. It also involves being able to critically examine your focus, understand the wider picture, and take five or ten minutes to step back and modify your priorities throughout the day.