Do you ever feel like the day gets away from you?
No matter how you define productivity, we can all agree being productive is a good thing. For some people, it comes easy. But, for others, it can be difficult — especially when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. By practicing time management skills, you can more carefully schedule out your day, ensure that your time is spent efficiently and get more done. With this in mind, I’ve pulled together some tips I’ve implemented over the years, that helped me stay productive.
1. Schedule everything — even personal time
Dealing with disruptions is a common problem. You can cut your disruptions considerably by scheduling out every part of your day.
Of course, you’ll still face disruptions, but there will be fewer of them — and you’ll be better prepared to deal with them if the rest of your day moves efficiently.
2. Don’t try and participate in everything
You shouldn’t try to attend any meeting, you can either ask for summary from a teammate or a collogue who attend.
The stats about time wasted in meetings are pretty scary. Here are just a couple: 67% of employees say too many meetings stop them from getting their best work done, while 68% of US professionals say poorly organized meetings are wasting their time. So first of all, don’t have a meeting unless you really need to. When you do, schedule it first thing, have a plan, and don’t invite people who don’t need to be there. At the end, make sure everyone leaves with a list of next steps. For more great tips on making meetings more effective, check out effective meeting strategies.
3. Block out your own focus time to boost productivity
Focus time is critical for me to make progress on my daily work, but with so many distractions during a typical day, it often becomes hard to get into flow. I’m using The focus plan in MyAnalytics. It helps me block regular time for my top-priority work.
4. Remember to explain ‘why’
Putting tasks in context can motivate teams to tackle them. Ensure people know how each piece of work will impact the project, how it will benefit the company or customer, and how it can count towards their personal development. The more clued-up your team feels, the more eager they’ll be to get down to work.
5. Do your most important/hardest task first
“One productivity tip I’ve always loved is ‘eat the frog’ — which means tackling the most challenging, or least favorite task, first thing in the day.” — John Furneaux, CEO of Hive.
Whatever it is, it hangs over your head, distracting you with guilt because it keeps getting pushed to the next day and the next. Whatever it is, just do it.
6. Take breaks
There’s a limit to how long anybody can devote deep focus to a task. No matter how busy you are, after a certain amount of time, the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and fatigue — physical and/or mental — starts to impair your effectiveness. You’ll return to your work refreshed, both mentally and physically, and ready to be even more productive. Schedule breaks periodically even during the busiest days. working long hours — doesn’t improve productivity. In fact, working for hours on end can fast-track burnout. But taking regular breaks from desks or workstations can help people feel refreshed and clear their minds.
If you’re not convinced yet, read this article about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.
Look around you: who is available to do some of those tasks? An important key to productivity is doing only those things that only you can do, and giving somebody else the opportunity to contribute by doing those other tasks. Ensure you have visibility of team members’ workloads and empower people to delegate tasks when they need to. Set an example by delegating your work, too. Not only is this a great way to improve personal productivity, but it can also empower other team members to become more productive and more collaborative.
8. Say No
How many commitments have you made that don’t really need to be kept at all? When someone calls or appears at your door with a request for your participation in some activity, take a breath and consider whether it fits into your own priorities. If the answer is no, then just say no. Practice it ahead of time: “Thank you for inviting me, but no.” “Thank you for asking, but no.” “Thank you for thinking of me, but no.”
9. Review your week every Thursday
Review your diary at the end of each week. It will transform how you spend your time.
10. Understand your priorities
“Saying ‘I don’t have time’ really means ‘it’s not a priority.” It’s not about how much time you actually have– instead, it’s about how you choose to spend that time. This simple shift in mindset is empowering because it lets you take control of your day. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and time-strapped to do everything on your list, identify your top priorities and focus on those. The other things can wait.