Time Management Hacks to Leverage Your Productivity

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One of the greatest conflicts that most of us face while balancing between personal life and work is missed deadlines, project creep, and an overwhelming to-do-list. As we approach a new year, many will purpose to be better at time management, increase productivity, and focus on what matters.

And true to the word, these skills are the true pillars on which a successful career is built upon. However, while time management is among the most sought after workforce skills, the fact remains that it is the rarest to find.

With the term ‘time management’ almost becoming a cliché, you will find myriad hacks, books, and even apps that promise to improve your time management skills, but without much success anyway.

Leave personal set skills that promise unproved universal effectiveness and follow these time management skills that guarantee you optimal productivity.

Tips to Increase Your Time Management Skills

Time management often comes with the making of decisions that plan, protect, and adjusts one’s time in changing conditions. To become a better time manager, you might require to figure out where your focus is as the first and preparative step towards managing your time.

Coupling this with the following tips will help you plan, execute, and also manage your time to achieve maximum productivity hence success.

#1 – Create a Time Audit

The best way to account for your time during a day is by finding out what you usually do with it during the day. You will notice that there lies a great discrepancy between your subjective time and reality.

#2 – Know That Not All Tasks Possess Equal Importance

After taking a time audit you will notice that there is a great difference in how you spend your time versus how you wish to spend it. The fact remains that there is time to do all that you wish done with the factor of setting your priorities right. When you learn the art of prioritizing, you will always know what task is important to be fulfilled and what tasks can wait or be postponed.

You might wish to start with a time management app to help you track all that you do throughout a given period like say, a week. After this, you can sit and download reports on your time management then evaluate them. This will indefinitely help you improve on key areas that might lead to productivity. For example, time used sitting or doing unproductive things can be used in more productive manners such as attending to low priority tasks.

To have your goals right, you might need to have them SMART. This means that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and also time-bound.

#3 – Formulate a To-Do List

The number one step of getting organized is writing down the tasks you need to handle in a to-do list. According to research done, human beings are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down. To set yourself up for great wins in terms of productivity write down your action plan the night before. Possessing a tangible framework for your following day will always ensure that you start each day with a solid purpose. This will most likely set your day to productivity.

#4 – Work with Deadlines for Each Task

Setting time limits for the tasks in your to-do list will in most cases prevent getting distracted or procrastination on the tasks. For example, if you choose to work on an essay for your academic purposes, set a specific and realistic time that you know you can use to optimally finish the essay. In this way, doing each task becomes like a game.

#5 – Eat the Frog First

It was once mentioned by Mark Twain that if it is your job and duty to eat a frog, then it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if your job is to eat two frogs, then you ought, to begin with, the bigger one. Well, this might sound gross.

Twain’s point here is that you ought to take care of your biggest as well as most challenging tasks in the morning. One of the reasons why this is recommendable is that this offers quite an effective time management trick. For beginners in this trick, you usually have the most amount of energy in the AM. Therefore, it remains worthwhile to handle your most important tasks (MIT) when you’re not drained. Additionally, you can use that accomplishment feeling to get through the rest of the day.

#6 – Avoid Procrastinating with the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is one of the popular time management hacks that encourages handling of tasks in twenty-five minutes bursts having to take three to five minutes breaks between. This is to keep the mind both fresh and focused for optimal gains. According to experts, the technique helps fight distractions by having your brain improve its attention span. The constant timing of your tasking makes you achieve better accountability having you minimize time spent on procrastination.

Therefore, the next time you have larger tasks that seem quite daunting you might try to have them broken into shorter periods of intense focus by setting a twenty-five minutes timer and working with no distractions. Then take a three to five minutes break also called the Pomodoro. After four cycles, you might need to take fifteen to twenty minutes to break first.

#7 – Take Advantage of the 80-20 Rule

We can never seem to stay away from the Pareto principle. Coming to our productivity, the Pareto principle can be applied in that 80% of our results emanate from 20% of our efforts. The trick here is to discover what that 20% is to have you apply the maximum effort possible eliminating as much of the unproductive 80% for optimal results and success.

To have the Pareto principle work in this situation you ought to remember the following:

Have a clear goal outlined on whatever you wish to do. Here, you can visualize what the successful outcome will be like and then identify the 20% of action steps to have you 80% of the way there.

Identify your majors and minors. Try to check the daily activities that you would incorporate in your schedule to create constant motion towards achieving whatever you wish to achieve on a daily basis. You ought to reduce the time spent thinking about doing something and having it done right away. Rise up from that comfort zone of trying to think without any rational action and just do the work anyway!

Identify action steps that you might have undertaken in the past that led to the biggest positive impacts on your set goals. After the identification process, you can now practice more of this in your routine. You ought to prioritize such action steps and incorporate them into your schedule.

#8 – Block Out Distractions around You

Distractions are possibly one of the greatest robbers of time when one has already started working on something. You can use your devices’ ‘Do Not Disturb’ function when focused on your tasks. Here, you can channel your attention by working at only one thing at a go. If it helps, going offline might also be a great option too. You might as well check on some distractions in your environments such as friends and family, and noise.

#9 – Avoid Multitasking

At times spinning numerous plates seems like a necessary evil. However, we don’t always have the luxury of offering total attention to every task we need to be handled. Most of us think they have the ability to do several things at a go but it turns out that this is an efficient way to do things.

Don’t wait to learn later of the inefficiency of multitasking, context switching, and attention residue later in life. Avoid it all now to achieve better control of your time and hence better time management skills.

#10- Chase not Perfection

The moment you chose to be a perfectionist, nothing seems to be good at any time. You will keep trying to perfect something time and again chasing perfection without knowing that it’s your time that is in jeopardy. Forget being perfect! It actually doesn’t exist. Just do the best you can and that’s all!

#11 – Allow Time for Yourself

We overlook so much on the aspects of having time for oneself in the working life hence leading to a stressful population. Notably, taking a breather from your normal routine and allocating time for yourself is a great way to achieve better time management skills.

Consider planning and writing down a segment of each day that you can actually do nothing like say, fifteen minutes. No thinking, no email checking, no calls, no talks, no task at all! All you need to do is sit, relax, and allow your mind to recharge. Notably, you get back to tasks refreshed and more able to leverage the time you possess.

Taking a long breather, like say, a day or a week from work is also a great way to increase your overall productivity. Here you can do easier tasks or do what feels to be fun for yourself as a hobby. Again, don’t get carried away by tasking having you turn that Sunday afternoon into a working moment.

#12 – Learn to Say ‘NO’ More Often

It is a great thing to possess a positive attitude and be open. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to say yes to all that comes your way. While some belief in saying yes as the perfect way to live your life to the fullest, this tends to be a lie.

True it is that the appeal of trying out new things and opening up your world to the maximum possibilities and opportunities is possible, more so for the young generation.

However, saying yes to everything usually means that you are giving up control of your time to another person. And as we all know, having other people take control of your time will indefinitely lead to poor time management.

#13 – Work with People Who Can Leverage Your Time

Any time you start doing something new or try to achieve bigger goals, you might find out that you lack the necessary skills. Instead of spending too much time trying to figure out how to do something, leverage your time by finding someone who has the experience in that task already.

Through this, you can leverage your time by spending more time doing things that you are great at hence leading to great and positive results. You ought to follow a similar process to leverage time too. By finding experts who can help you do what you aren’t good at, you could end up saving yourself five to twenty hours a week, time that can be used to achieve other life goals for yourself hence better control and management of time.

#14 – Make the Most of Waiting Times

We all have those moments where we have to wait. Either in lines, airport terminals, waiting rooms, etc. You can use this time to do some of the micro-tasks that might be a big distraction to tasks on your to-do list. Here, you can answer emails on your mobile device, meditate, catch up on a missed text or call or even listen to some podcast. Most of all, don’t allow unexpected queues to catch you unprepared.

#15 – Adopt Use of Technology

One of the greatest evil temptresses for productivity is technology. Notably, it can suck us in offering promises of simple task management, keeping us on the loop, and planning. However, we can get caught in the vortex of more of what tech has to offer.

Adopt a simple task management software that suits your style of work giving yourself limits on social networking sites, texting, checking that email inbox, or manage communication with customers E-commerce communication tools. You will realize that there is a myriad of software programs that can help you with time management hence increasing your productivity. Just be careful and mindful too of how you leverage their help.

#16 – Use Other People’s Time

It is a great hack using other people’s time as an entrepreneurial tactic. Necessarily, this doesn’t imply other people, after all, no one would love their time taken from them. This means delegating your tasks and allowing coworkers, outsourced help, and employees to help you with some things in your routine. For example, if you run a website, you might use someone’s time to maintain the server, the site, check emails, and comments. Of course, this might come at a cost in most cases.

#17 – Leave a Buffer-time between Meetings and Tasks

Landing another task soonest after you are done with another might seem to be a nice time-management hack for some. However, it actually has a negative impact on our time and productivity at large. Purpose to clear your minds and recharge your body before taking on another task. This can be done by taking a walk, meditating, or just relaxing.

After all, our minds can only stay focused for about ninety minutes at a go. With no breaks taken, it is quite hard to stay motivated and focused. Therefore buffer-time can aid prevent running late to your next meeting. Twenty-five minutes feels like an adequate buffer-time for one to stay focused and motivated.

#18 – Have Adequate Sleep

Having enough sleep has been noted to help one achieve more control over their tasks and time. Scientists have realized that less sleep creates more task-oriented time leading to trouble while tasking. Notably, a tired mind is more prone to procrastination and distractions. Therefore, give your brain at least eight hours of sleep a day to achieve maximum productivity and better time management.

#19 – Avoid Burnout through Regular Exercise

While some tasks in your to-do list might be easy, others might lead to burnout. This might include sitting down working on your computer, something that might affect your physical health and mental performance. Notably, there has been a correlation noted between low-intensity movement and high productivity. Therefore, if you feel sluggish, you can do some light exercises such as yoga for about fifteen minutes to have your body beat monotony and avoid burnout.

#20 – Establish a Boundary between Your Home and Work-Life

One of the greatest mistakes for time management and productivity is mixing work life and home life. You need to allocate time for each having the time not collide by any means unless it’s an emergency. Here, you might need to establish some rules within your household to have them allow you to reach peak productivity during your work time.

#21 – Ensure You Have a Great Time- No Matter What!

After all is said and done, don’t be so obsessed to have all activities in your daily to-do list checked. You need to enjoy every day striking a balance between personal life and work. You might realize that finishing an oversized workload today might not be really worthwhile a burnt-out tomorrow. So, adopt a steady pace of work and remember that the road is more important at all times than the destination.

Final Thought

When we all desire better time management, the truth is that most of us are far from achieving it. Either you have adopted the wrong tricks or you are not really working towards achieving time management skills. The above skills are your sure way through which you can achieve the time management skills hence increasing your productivity. As a result, you might have life reward you with success in return hence a more contented life.

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