Learn how to work smarter, not harder!

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Learn how to work smarter, not harder!

POSTED BY ON April 04, 2016

21 Time Management Tips

 

Time is our most precious resource.  We all have the same 24 hours in the day and make a choice on how to spend it.

It’s so easy for time to slip away mindlessly through our fingers and not know what happened.  Here’s 21 Tips to get you thinking regularly about how to refine your own time management practices.

1. Complete most important tasks first.

This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first.

Once you’re done, you don’t have them hanging over your head pestering you all day.  You can move on to other things and celebrate the success of completing the essential!  I recommend reading Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy for more great tips.

2. Learn to say “no”.

It’s so easy to get stuck in the habit of wanting to please everyone but what happens is we spend our time on things that are not in line with our priorities and moving us towards our dream life and accomplishing our goals.

At some point, you need to learn to decline opportunities. Your objective should be to take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.

3. Sleep at least 7-8 hours.

I don’t know about you, but when I cut into my sleep time, I get cranky and my patience runs thin.  It’s also hard to keep track of stuff.  Sacrificing sleep is not a productivity hack and will actually decrease your quality of life and make it harder to get things done.

Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep for their bodies and minds to function optimally. You know if you’re getting enough. Listen to your body, and don’t underestimate the value of sleep.

4. Devote your entire focus to the task at hand.

Be fully focused.  In today’s society our phones are a third limb, causing us to be half paying attention all.the.time.

Close out all other browser windows. Put your phone away, out of sight and on silent.  Turn your email off.  Find a quiet place and concentrate on this one task. Nothing else should exist. Immerse yourself in it.  You’ll get it done faster and retain more information.  Multi-tasking is not better.

5. Get an early start.

Back for motherhood, I swore I would never wake up before 7 am. Then I had a baby and realized that those early morning hours are the only time I can get anything done for my business and fit in a workout.

When you make the commitment to get up early and get your important stuff done before anyone else is even awake, you won’t have it hanging over your head all day making excuses of why it’s ok to procrastinate.

It’s so much nicer and less stressful to get an earlier start on something. It isn’t that difficult either, if you just decide firmly to do it.  Don’t be scared of 5 am.  Make it your friend and watch your expand into greatness.

6. Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down.

Don’t get caught up in perfection.  It’s better to get something done well enough vs perfect.  Generally we are our harshest critic and use perfection to keep from moving forward.  I’m guilty of this. I’ve always been a perfectionist.  Currently in recovery.

What I’ve found, though, is that it is possible to push past the desire to constantly examine what I’ve done so far. I’m much better off pressing onward, getting the bulk completed, and revising things afterward.

7. Turn key tasks into habits.

Habits are the foundation for creating new behaviors.  When you commit to doing something consistently everyday then you grow to look forward to it and it’s very manageable because it’s habitual.  When you scramble to pack it all in at once it’s easy to become overwhelmed and not do it at all.

8. Be conscientious of amount of TV/Internet/scrolling.

Use your time wisely.  It’s easy to get sucked into the newsfeed or a bad reality TV show and BOOM 30 minutes is gone.  You could have used that time to workout, read a good book, catch up with a friend… do something to enhance your life.  Time spent browsing Twitter or gaming or watching TV and movies can be one of the biggest drains on productivity.

Become aware of how much time you spend on these activities. Simply by noticing how they’re sucking up your time you’ll begin to do them less.

9. Delineate a time limit in which to complete task.

I’m a huge fan of the timer app on my phone.  It’s super easy for me to sit down and get lost in a project or task and run out of time to do anything else and mess up my whole day.  I now set my timer and that way I can be completely focused on the task at hand and once the ringer goes off then I can wrap up the task and move to something new.

The time constraint will push you to focus and be more efficient, even if you end up having to go back and add a bit more later.

10. Leave a buffer-time between tasks.

I am the worst at this.  I will bump tasks and activities up right against each other and then end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  It’s difficult to appreciate what I’m doing and to stay focused and motivated.

Allowing ourselves down-time between tasks can be a breath of fresh air for our brains. While taking a break, go for a short walk, meditate, or perform some other mind-clearing exercise.

11. Don’t think of the totality of your to-do list.

Seeing that endless list of tasks can feel like climbing Mt. Everest and that it will never get done!  No amount of thought will make it any shorter, but focus on the one task before you. This one, single, solitary task. One step at a time. Breathe.  You will inch along and before you know it, you’ll be that much closer to your goals.

12. Exercise and eat healthily.

Numerous studies have linked a healthy lifestyle with work productivity. Similar to getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthily boost energy levels, clear your mind, and allow you to focus more easily.

13. Do less.

Doing less is another way of saying do the things that really matter.

Slow down, notice what needs to be done, and concentrate on those things. Do less things that create more value, rather than more things that are mostly empty.

14. Utilize weekends, just a little bit.

It’s amazing how doing just a little bit on weekends can really lessen the workload during the week. Aim for 1-3 hours per day. You’ll still leave yourself plenty of free time for activities.

15. Create organizing systems.

Being organized saves tons of time, and you don’t have to be the most ultra-organized person in the world either. Systems aren’t complicated to implement.

Create a filing system for documents. Make sure all items have a place to be stored in your dwelling. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists if you don’t want to receive their content. Streamline, streamline, streamline.

16. Do something during waiting time.

We tend to have a lot of down-time where we don’t try to do much. Waiting rooms, lines at the store, being on hold for a call.

Find things to do during this time. I get back to clients and build my social media during waiting time.

17. Lock yourself in.

GET F.I.T. – Focused, Intense, Time.

No distractions, no excuses. Turn your phone over, or even OFF! {GASP}

The only way I’m going to get something done is alone and without distractions. If you’re like me, realize it, and act accordingly.

18. Commit to your plan to do something.

Don’t flake on your own plan to do something!

Be resolute. Be committed. Be professional about it, and follow through. A firm will to accomplish what you decide to accomplish will take you anywhere.  And it will give you a sense of confidence that you can’t buy!

19. Batch related tasks together.

Let’s say that over a given weekend you need to do two programming assignments, write three essays, and make two videos. Rather than approaching this work in whatever order you feel, group the like tasks and do them consecutively.

Different tasks demand different types of thinking, so it makes sense to allow your mind to continue to flow with its current zone rather than switching unnecessarily to something that’s going to require you to re-orient.

20. Find time for stillness.

In our go, go, go world, too many people don’t find time to just be still. Yet, it’s extraordinary what a stillness practice can do. Action and inaction should both play key roles in our lives.

Discovering time in your life for silence and non-motion reduces anxiety and shows you that there is no need to constantly rush. It also makes it easier to find your work pleasurable.  My life has been enhanced immensely since adding meditation as a regular practice.

21. Eliminate the non-essential.

I know this one has been mentioned in one capacity or another already, but it’s one of the most useful tips you can take away from this post.

Our lives are full of excess. When we can identify that excess and remove it, we become more and more in touch with what is significant and what deserves our time.

One Last Tip (The Best One)

There’s one final tip I want to mention. If you remember one thing from this post, remember this:

Enjoyment should always be the goal. Work can be play.

We get so caught up in “being busy” that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing. Even when we focus on working smarter, we’re still often too focused on getting things done.

This should never be the point. Always ask yourself: What can I do to spend more time enjoying what I’m doing?

The goal should be to arrange your commitments in a way that you’re happy living out the details of your daily life, even while you’re working.

This may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s totally possible. Be curious. Be open to opportunity. Know yourself. Embrace your passions.

Wonderful things will happen. Best of luck implementing these tips, and let me know if I can do anything else to help you.