management article you will have an important gift – a bundle of time to get more things done today.
Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s a simple fix — all you need to do is eliminate four bad time management habits and stop wasting time today.
Want More? Read on: 10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours
1. Stop random email checks
Popping in and out of your inbox creates a “start-stop-start” pattern of work activity. Your wasted time quickly adds up when you consider the time it takes to refocus after each stop. A dozen email trips each day can cost you one completed product each week.
Unless you are expecting an important task-related message, each day you should schedule the 3 specific time slots for checking email: mid-morning, after lunch, and mid-afternoon.
For that matter, the same goes for your voicemail, text messages and other smartphone-related activities. Reduce these harmful interruptions by sticking to a set schedule.
See Also: How to Beat Your Fear of Laziness and Procrastination
2. Quit “winging-it”
Quick story alert: There was a time in my life when I would get lost while driving. A lot. For a while I thought I was a hopelessly directionally-challenged individual. But then it finally dawned on me that I was usually just “winging it”. I was setting off without a plan or direction.
Most people start their days without a roadmap and end up aimlessly wandering around what’s important, wasting time along the way. Sadly, those who choose to skip planning mistakenly believe they are saving time, a folly obvious to your boss, co-workers, and clients.
Honestly, 5 minutes is all you need to establish a short list of tasks, create a daily schedule, and prioritize your activities in the order of importance. By creating a plan each morning you’ll have much more success in follow-through on what matters most.
3. Don’t be an interruption magnet
Let’s face it, some people are more open to distractions than others. Do you find yourself beginning work on a priority task only to be interrupted by a passing co-worker?
It’s possible that you are inviting distraction into your world like a magnet.
The good news is you’re not alone. This is a common form of procrastination, not following through on your priorities, and time being wasted. Fix it by learning to close your door, both physically and figuratively:
Each day, choose two separate “task hours” where you can close your office door.
Identify important tasks where undivided attention is a priority.
Communicate your limited availability to your co-workers by email or sign on the door; specify options for reaching you with urgent matters during this time.
Silence your cellphone – shut off your ringer and create a custom voicemail greeting that details your availability.
Close your email client to avoid the temptation to check-in.
Unplug from the Internet — shutting down any potential distractions.
Once you’ve found success, try adding a third task hour to your routine.
Learning the self-discipline to stay on task doesn’t always come naturally. But remember — when you prioritize a task as highly important, you’re giving yourself permission to shut yourself off from interruptions.
4. End your silent procrastination
Procrastination is usually easy to spot, especially when you’re playing solitaire, scrolling Facebook or gazing out the office window. But there’s another type of procrastination that involves “busywork” — working on non-essential tasks. I call it the “silent killer” because you may not even realize you’re doing anything wrong.
Any time you spend on less important activities is a step backward, especially when time-sensitive priority tasks and goals are concerned.
Stop this time-wasting sinkhole by giving your priorities some teeth:
Don’t just take time to put your task list in order — understand why it is important to you and your goals, this makes easier to stay disciplined and follow through.
Use Time Boxing, a reliable time management practice that consists of scheduling your tasks in fixed time segments, or boxes, with specific start and finish times.
When you tell yourself what you should be doing and when, it reduces the intimidation factor of having large projects and open spaces of time.
Create task reminders using your day planner, Outlook, or by simply setting an egg timer and working until it rings.
Structuring your task time works because it provides an appealing set of instructions in your mind about when to start and when to stop.
(Photo credit: Stop Sign via Shutterstock)
Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity
1. Focus on the Most Important Things.
You cannot do every single thing, every single day. Write down the three most important things that must get done and focus on that. If you knock those tasks out with plenty of time to spare, then you can add the next three important things. Before you begin any task, ask yourself, “Am I doing this for a good reason or am I just passing time?” Answer honestly and adjust as necessary.
You may also want to read: 8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy
2. Wake Up Early.
We all have the same number of hours per day, but we all don’t make the most out of those available hours. There are a few strategies you can use to start your day right. Choose the one that sounds most beneficial to you:
Option A: Eliminate the biggest source of stress.
If you would stop thinking about how much you don’t want to do the thing AND JUST DO THE THING ALREADY, you’ll be a lot less stressed. Due to this reality, let’s just isolate the thing that stresses you out the most and get it over with ASAP. No excuses. No complaining. Get it done!
Option B: Start with the most important task.
If one thing HAS to get done today, what is it? Do that. You’ll feel happy and accomplished, giving you energy to get through the rest of the day.
Option C: Feed your brain with words.
Not everyone can wake up and start working right away. Sound like you? Grab a book and read a few chapters with a cup of coffee or hot tea (bonus points if you do it outside with the sun rising and birds singing). Your brain will be ready to go after it gets a healthy dose of inspiration.
3. Close the Door.
This is especially important for writers: if the door is shut, that means you are working and no one shall enter. It can take a little while to get your creative juices flowing, so being faced with constant distractions will take a toll on your productivity by the time you start-and-stop-and-start-again-and-stop-again-and-(you get the idea). If you are an office worker, the same rule applies: if you need to focus, tell your co-workers you need some quiet to finish (insert incredibly important thing here) and would appreciate it if they left you alone unless it’s an emergency.
4. Do One Thing at a Time.
Multi-tasking is just a slightly more productive version of procrastination. Stop kidding yourself.
5. Silence Your Phone.
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time focusing on writing articles like this when I am interrupted by buzzing, chirping, or ringing from my cell phone every few minutes. There is no text that requires an immediate answer. It can wait.
6. Re-charge Your Batteries.
While focus is the key that unlocks your productivity, there comes a time when the best thing to do is walk away. We are not meant to work for hours-on-end without a break from the grind. Working beyond your limits will only result in sub-par work that takes much longer to complete than it should.
7. Ask for Help.
It is more efficient to ask for help when it is needed than it is to stubbornly plow forward. I don’t know the first thing about design, but I know a whole lot of people who do (so I seek their input when I need it). Even if you don’t know a person with the answer to your question, you could get help VIA a simple Google search. You cannot be the expert of everything, so seek outside help to save your time (and sanity).
8. Group Similar Tasks Together.
Different tasks require different mind-sets for effective completion. For example: writing a helpful article, crafting a thoughtful e-mail, studying for an exam, and making a sales call are very different tasks that require very different executions. Why not set one or two times where you send every e-mail, make every phone-call, or write every letter? Surely you have noticed that it typically takes longer to start a chore than it does to actually complete it. Knocking out similar tasks, all in a group, will eliminate the time it takes to set-up for each task, so you’ll have more time to enjoy your day.
9. Exercise for 30 Minutes Each Day.
A quick bout of exercise will boost your energy, helping you carry yourself with ease. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, will leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated. Your body is the vessel that carries you throughout this world, so treat it accordingly.
10. Know Your Limits.
Getting more done in less time is great, but as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to make a task any more productive than it is. If you can’t take your productivity any further, shift your focus to the quality of your work (because isn’t that the point anyway?). Also, if seeking ever-growing productivity starts to drain the joy out of your work, let it go. Just because we can do something faster doesn’t mean we really need to. As Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
How do you maximize productivity at work and home? If you could have an extra hour or two per day, what would you do with it?
Be more productive and you’ll have more time to rest: The 8 Habits of Highly Productive People