We all want to boost our productivity and we often feel as though there are never enough minutes in the day, but don’t be controlled by the clock – take control back for yourself using these tips and tricks.

1. Set time aside to plan your day

Take 30 minutes at the beginning of each day to set your agenda. It’s handy to use your calendar or diary – something you can refer to regularly and easily. Write your to do list and give yourself some timeframes to structure your day. Then do your best to follow it. Cross items off as you get through things so you can see your progress.

2. Schedule time with yourself

Make time regularly to reflect on important thoughts, conversations and actions that you need to undertake on your own. Put this time in your agenda, and protect it like any other important meeting. Allowing yourself some space to think about things is incredibly useful to your productivity. If there is a problem you have been scratching your head over, step outside and go for a walk in the fresh air, change your surroundings and you’ll be surprised at how a solution can just pop into your mind.

3. Don’t get pressured to respond immediately

Don’t feel like you must answer the phone whenever it rings or read an email as soon as it appears in your inbox. Make sure you are sticking to your schedule (factor time in to respond to emails and return calls) and not allowing interruptions to take over your entire day.

4. Block out distractions

Remove as many disturbances as you can – like social media (except when using it for your business). An app like RescueTime can help you work out where you are losing time down that rabbit hole of internet and social media. This app helps you monitor how you spend your time online (and works on the theory that over time and with increased awareness, you become better at resisting temptation).

5. Practise the Pomodoro technique

If you’re unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique, here is a quick rundown:

  1. Decide on a task to work solidly on.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops in your head, write it down but immediately get back on the task.
  4. After the timer rings, put a check mark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four check marks, take a short break (three to five minutes), then go back to step 1.
  6. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your check mark count to zero, then start again at step 1.

The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualising are fundamental to the technique. This method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve your mental agility. Give it a whirl and see if it works to increase your productivity.

Hopefully spending some time looking at the time in your day and how you spend it will pay off in dividends of productivity. Know your habits and how to crack them to get the most out of your day.

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