How often have you looked back to see what you accomplished at the end of the day only to find out you didn't accomplish much? I know I have.
The issue is time management.
Managing time effectively entails making the most productive use of time and working smart. Here at 7 tips.
1. Set Goals
Having short-term and long-term goals will help to distinguish between the most important and the least important things. The goals also help you to set the playing field because if you do not know what you want to achieve, you will spend your days spinning your wheels getting continuously frustrated. Having clear goals will help you to determine what you need to do and how to do it in order to achieve it.
2. Create a 'Power' List
Importance of a to-do lists:
Each morning you should spend 5 to 10 minutes in planning what you will do during the day. Better still, you can do this in the evening before going to bed. List all the tasks and break down the complex ones into small manageable tasks and focus on a single task at a time.
Chances are you will not be able to complete all tasks on your to-do list. However, ensure the most crucial ones are done. This means that you must prioritize the tasks and determine the ones that are very important or very urgent.
Once you have your list of to-do's, highlight the top 3 things that you absolutely need to accomplish that day to move you towards your goals. These 3 items should be the very first objectives you focus on completing in the morning.
4. Make a Schedule
After prioritizing the things that you need to do, use your to-do list to prepare a schedule. The schedule must include contingencies and the times to take a break. The schedule must also be realistic with padding for unscheduled tasks and interruptions. The contingency time to build in will be determined by the nature of your activities.
A schedule prevents you from wasting time in thinking about what tasks you should perform next.
5. Stop Procrastinating
Dreaded procrastination which rears its ugly head every time is the most difficult part of managing time. You can set clear goals, be organized and prioritize your time but if you do not adhere to your list of things-to-do every day, you are only wasting time.
To avoid procrastination you must first find out what causes it. It could be:
The best way to get rid of a habit is by acting other ways every time. So, just avoid delaying things and do them.
Setting a timer also helps; set the time and start doing the task that you had put on hold. A moving object keeps on moving- once you start working, you are most likely to go on working. The only difficult part is simply starting off.
Here is a book on Procrastination Hacks.
6. Eliminate Distractions
For most people, phone calls and emails are the biggest distractions to managing time well. Unless you are required to be accessible or available throughout, switch your phone off and avoid constant email notifications. Those are things that consume most of your time and they make you lose focus frequently.
Give yourself enough time to concentrate in what you are doing. Respond to calls, messages and emails a few times in order to avoid changing what you are doing constantly. This also means that you will have to recondition others. People that contact you should know that you will not be available all the time and so they should expect late responses.
Also, you should track self-induced distractions as well, especially those from social media. Smartphones are very useful but they are also addictive and they are the most insidious time-wasters on earth. Instead of keeping your phone on throughout, plan a break time within a day where you can check your mails, return calls, respond to messages and anything else that came up when your phone was off.
7. Have a Time Log
Tracking your daily activities and the time each of them takes gives a realistic view of how you are spending your time. You will be surprised to know how much time some tasks take and the amount of time you waste in ways that you do not know about.
Also, you need to note your focus and energy levels at various times of the day. This helps in determining the tasks that you should be doing at a certain time of the day (the difficult tasks should be done when your energy level is high).
Being a productive person comes down to the simple things, but the simplest things tend to be the most difficult to stick with. I challenge you to try implementing all 7 of these tips for the next week and see what a difference it makes to your daily productivity.
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