Want to get the most out of your day? We’ve put together a list of ways to manage your time as efficiently as possible, so you can turn into a productivity powerhouse in no time.
1. Fail to plan, you plan to fail
Planning is obviously a big part of working in a productive way. Set aside time, preferably at the beginning of the day, to map out your to-do list ahead of time. It’ll also give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick off each task after completion.
2. Prioritise the important tasks
When deciding what to tick off your to do list first, it can be easy to beeline straight for the easiest/most enjoyable tasks. However, it’s a much more efficient use of your time to knock out the most important and possibly even most challenging items first. This will make you much less likely to get to the end of the day, when you’re feeling a little fatigued, and push those important tasks to another day.
3. Say ‘no’ when you need to
For some reason, many of us worry about saying ‘no’. It’s almost like it’s been ingrained in us that it’s impolite to do so, when, realistically, it’s much more irresponsible to take on a task knowing you won’t be able to dedicate the time it deserves. The person asking you to complete something will be much happier to find someone else, rather than have you take it on and do a poor job/take an extended amount of time to get it back to them.
4. Form daily habits and routines
We all have habits, both good and bad. Creating productivity-encouraging habits and introducing them into your daily routine will ensure your time is managed much more efficiently. This could be anything from only checking your emails after you complete a task, to reading through a certain amount of reports first thing in the morning before lunch time.
5. Stop getting distracted
This one almost goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. If you want to be as efficient with your time as possible, you have to eliminate those distractions. When you’re trying to get in full concentration mode, this might mean turning your phone on airplane mode, going offline, switching off your email notifications, putting headphones on – whatever it is you need to do to stop getting distracted every five minutes, do it!
6. Don’t be afraid to delegate
No matter how efficient you get managing your time, you still only have a set amount of hours in the day (ground breaking, we know!). Sometimes, you have no choice but to delegate tasks to other people.
7. Schedule time in for breaks
That’s right, working hard doesn’t have to just be hard work. It’s important – if not integral – to schedule some time in between tasks for breaks. Have a walk around, grab a cup of tea/coffee or a snack, and make sure you give your brain a little time to rest before refocussing.
8. Look after yourself
Effective time management doesn’t just come down to how you operate when you’re at your desk. Exercising, drinking water, eating healthily, and getting plenty of sleep all have an impact on your concentration levels and, in turn, overall productivity.
9. Define your goals
Rather than just plugging away trying to complete as many tasks as possible, it’s important to know the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing. Defining and setting the goals you want to ultimately achieve will go a long way in helping you keep focussed.
10. Track time
Tracking how long you spend on tasks will allow you to identify what you may be wasting time on, and areas that would be beneficial to tighten up a bit. There are plenty of great time tracking platforms available out there, or you can do it old school with a stopwatch (or at least the stopwatch app on your phone).
11. Create time limits
In line with tracking time, setting time limit boundaries can be a great motivator for completing work. Making internal promises to keep Task A completed in the next hour, or Task B done before lunch will drive you towards working more efficiently and with greater focus.
12. Don’t get bogged down in unimportant details
If you want to be as efficient in your time management as possible, you can’t be too much of a perfectionist. Don’t get too fixated on getting every little detail just right, otherwise you’ll find time slipping away pretty rapidly.
13. Make use of downtime
So you probably don’t want to be continually focused on the work you’re trying to complete, but that doesn’t mean you can’t more effectively use your downtime. We’re not talking about filling out reports on Sunday while you’re relaxing in front of the television – think more the time you spend waiting in lines, at the gym while using a treadmill, in a waiting room, etc. If you can get a couple of simple tasks done, this will take a lot of the pressure off your daily schedule.
14. Batch related tasks together
While bouncing around between tasks isn’t encouraged for maximum productivity, it’s definitely useful to knock out tasks that are related together. It may be that they require the same software, mode of thinking, or are connected in another way. Whatever it is, grouping them will help you seamlessly transition and save wasting time having to switch gears.
15. Just do it
Sometimes you’ve got to take a page out of Nike’s book and just do it. Procrastination is obviously a killer for efficient time management, and we’ve all fallen victim to it once or twice. It sounds simplified, but sometimes you’ve really just got to tell yourself to stop procrastinating, and get stuck into the task. Once you get started, you might find it’s not so bad as you thought it was going to be, after all.
The great thing about efficiently managing your time is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. In fact, if it’s not your area of expertise, it’s more likely to take you much more time than necessary.
For example, web copy is something you really want to get right, and can make or break your company’s marketing. Shuttle Rocket’s team of small business copywriters can craft a professional message for your website, leaving you to spend your time efficiently elsewhere.