By taking control of your time, you’re able to stay focused on the task at hand. This leads to higher efficiency and stronger momentum. Implementing a time management plan can do wonders for your work environment as well as your personal well-being. Managing time means less stress, more time to do the things you love, and increased opportunities for you in the future.
Creating a time management system will take time in itself. There will be a lot of trial and error. However, once you develop a good time management system, you’ll end up with a lot more free time to focus on other areas.
Remove Bad Browsing Habits
When you’re at work, it’s about being present and getting as much done to the best of your abilities. The internet is one of the greatest inventions ever created but it is a huge distraction. The best way to avoid being distracted is by constraining yourself. This means no sending emails to friends, chatting, or checking Facebook for personal reasons.
Schedule time for these distractions (if you must) and track the amount of time spent. There are apps that can do it for you. You may be surprised how much time you spend just mindlessly scanning or replying to things that don’t need your immediate attention just because they are “easy” on the brain.
As for the dreaded email inbox, it too is a great productivity thief. Stop checking your inbox every 10-15 minutes. Schedule time to respond to emails or do this as you wait for other things like meetings to start. Every time you respond to a notification as soon as it comes in, you are allowing yourself to be distracted and whatever you are working on suffers from this distraction. Even a quick response means you have to think about where you were in your previous project and that eats up time.
If you schedule your time to check emails, you can ensure you are at a stopping (or resting) point in your other project so that you can resume it without much effort.
Eliminating bad distraction habits can be incredibly difficult to do. It will take a lot of discipline, but doing so will allow you to devote more focus and time to more productive tasks.
Use an Online Calendar
Using an online calendar such as Google Calendar (free) can greatly improve your time management. At a glance, you can see all of your obligations scheduled in a given day (week or month format). Plus, you have easy access to available free or work time when someone asks.
When you know what you need to do, you waste less time in idle activities. Instead of wondering what you should be doing next, you can already be a step ahead of your work.
Ideally you’ll spend about an hour or two organizing your calendar for the week’s tasks. That may sound like a lot, but it needn’t be done in one block of time. Start your work day by reviewing what is planned for the day and scheduling anything else throughout the week. Some people review it over their morning coffee or at night (for the following day).
In addition to inserting work-related content and projects in your calendar, it is a great idea to schedule breaks, meals, and time off. Designating three 30-minute slots to check e-mail, may seem silly, but it will reduce the chances of you wondering aimlessly into your inbox throughout the day, as mentioned in the previous point.
Some online calendars track tasks and events separately, allowing for color-coding and prioritization. You may find it easier to use an online calendar and a to-do list app. Audition electronic options before settling on the one that works best for your needs.
Allocate Extra Time
This one may not be popular with a lot of people, but getting up at least 30 minutes earlier can help us manage our time better. In general, our brain function is more productive in the morning. An early wake up could be the beginning of fresh ideas and increased productivity. Start small though, perhaps 10 minutes at first and increase that over time. The quiet of the morning also allows for fewer distractions.
If you work outside of home, arrive at least 15 minutes early to your place of business. If you shoot to arrive exactly when the work day begins, inevitable delays can lead to unnecessary stress and that is not productive. Running behind first thing can have a domino effect on the rest of your day. Plan to be there at least 15 minutes early. That leaves you with a few valuable minutes to ensure you are composed and your thoughts are collected. 15 minutes early is on time in most cases for a lot of professionals, so aim to achieve this in your life.
But it’s not just about arriving early. Overestimate the allotted time for any task, especially with a new project. When doing something for the first time, it will often take 3 or 4 times what you may have originally estimated. Allow for this extra time.
Efficient people don’t have more time in their days. They just use it differently.