As a blogger and self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, one thing I have learned is the value of time. Bandwidth. There is only so much that you can have in one day. Over time, I’ve slowly found the tactics of better time management. Here’s how I take advantage of the limited hours in a day.
1. Use a calendar.
If you’re not already using one, you’re cheating yourself, and are probably losing valuable time. Schedule out when you are going to check e-mail, eat, have meetings, make phone calls, and block out the projects you have allotted for the day. Schedule every task like a priority and you will treat every task as a priority. If you share your calendar with others, make sure they see when you’re busy. In big, bold, red letters. Respect your time, and others will as well.
Google Calendar is my main hub when it comes to all things scheduling. You can set alerts to your desktop, e-mail, phone, and even add recurring events and combine multiple calendars. This is perfect because, personally, I have ten calendars. Dead serious. TEN.
2. Write to-do lists.
Always. Update, cross things off, give yourself that tangible sense of accomplishment. I love using Wunderlist for categorizing my tasks and giving them priority and due-dates. When you have your goals written out in front of you, you avoid Clusterbrain Syndrome: The feeling of knowing there are a thousand things you should be doing, but you can’t seem to organize them in a productive way. Writing to-do lists will keep your tasks in order, and categorizing them will keep your brain in order. Productivity will come naturally when you are able to cross of your goals, one by one.
3. Make your goals attainable.
If there are five things you want to get done in a day, pick the three things you can truly accomplish in the time frame and do only those.
Don’t even bother to give attention to the other two. Limiting your focus to two or three tasks per day (or week!) will keep you focused and avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. Quality over quantity: It is much better to do two or three things well than do five things in a hurry.
4. Establish a reward system.
Did you complete all of your tasks for the day? Meet a goal that you set for yourself? Awesome. Now REWARD yourself. You heard me. I’m going all Pavlov’s-Dog positive-reinforcement on you. Do good things and you will be rewarded. By good karma, the success that comes with getting it done, and whatever you deem appropriate to make your experience even more awesome. For example. I, being the loud-and-proud nerd that I am, reward myself with reading. And cookies. Pick whatever suits you the most, and if you meet all of your goals, by golly take the time to do what you didn’t think you would have time to (this also includes trash TV and hot baths. like I said. whatever makes you tick).
5. Find what makes you best at what you do.
Do you work best from home the first half of the day? Do you have more productive meetings in the afternoon? Does exercising after work suit you better than before? Do you prefer noise-canceling headphones playing classical music to the hum of the office? Packing lunch makes you feel like a little kid again, in a good way? Find out what makes you hum, and don’t be afraid to ask to make it happen.
I’d like to know…
- How do you stay productive?
- What apps do you use to get on track?