I recently gave a talk on time management to a local civic organization. Here are some of the tips from my presentation that folks found helpful.
1. Use a Tool
Find a tool that works well for YOU. Whether you're a paper person or a techie there's something out there for everyone. There are tons of paper planners on the market and scheduling and to-do list apps abound!
2. Schedule Your Tasks
The saying goes what gets scheduled gets done and what gets listed gets postponed. Set aside time in your calendar to get your tasks done. A to-do not tied to a to-when rarely is completed!
3. Respect Your Time
You wouldn't skip out on lunch with a friend or show up late to a meeting with your boss; treat your own time with the same respect. If you've set aside time to work on a project or assignment, don't blow yourself off; do it!
4. Create Time Rules
Put some boundaries in place regarding your time. Stand firm if you don't like to attend meetings after 5pm. Don't see clients on the weekends if that doesn't work for you. Let colleagues know your vacations are completely unplugged. The more you set parameters around your time, the more in control you'll feel.
5. Determine Peak Functioning
Truly assess whether you're a night owl or an early bird. Schedule your important meetings and tasks that require a lot of mental energy during times you're functioning at your best and you'll notice your productivity soar.
6. Build in Buffer Time
It's always important to give yourself a little cushion time throughout your day. Don't schedule meetings back to back or set up appointments during your lunch break. Especially if you have to travel to different sites throughout your day, you'll want to have some breathing room built in.
7. Don't Multi-task
If you haven't heard by now, multi-tasking is a myth. Studies have proven that what our brains are actually doing is task switching. And when our minds have to change channels frequently throughout the day we tend to make more mistakes and feel more stressed. Get in the zone by focusing on just one thing at a time. Single tasking is truly where it's at!
8. Eat Your Frogs
A frog is otherwise known as your most important task, but the one that you keep putting off. Successful, high functioning business executives have disciplined themselves to dive right into their tough tasks first which frees them up to do the more enjoyable and soul-fulfilling work the rest of the day.
9. Batch Your Tasks
You don't bake cookies one at a time, so don't tackle tasks one at a time. Set aside a chunk of time to attack your inbox and reply, archive or act on your messages. Designate an hour to just returning phone calls rather than fitting them in throughout the day. Grouping similar tasks together guarantees a higher rate of productivity.
Use technology to make your life easier. If you find yourself doing the same task repeatedly, you're wasting precious time and energy. Find a way to put things on auto-pilot. Use a scheduling tool for your social media posts, sign up for a program to do automatic computer back-ups, create templates of weekly meeting agendas. Streamline your processes and you'll streamline your to-do lists.
11. Avoid Decision Making Fatigue
How many decisions do you have to make in the course of a day? Are you exhausted by 11am? Simple things like wearing the same thing every day or eating the same foods for breakfast can help. Also, look to limit your options when making a choice on something and always go with your instincts. Waffling and hemming and hawing waste precious time. Too often our gut knows best.
12. Schedule YOU Time
How will scheduling time for you help you save time, you ask? When we turn our focus inward and get in touch with our thoughts and feelings, we're better able to filter out distractions and interruptions. Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can keep us on track. A quiet cup of coffee, deep breathing, or some light stretching are helpful ways to focus on you.
13. Create a Vision Board
This is a collage-like project filled with pictures, statements, and images that reflect the growth and development we want to manifest in our life. By having a visual reminder of our goals and dreams helps to keep our eyes on the prize and enables us to make better choices about how we spend our time and if what we're doing is getting us closer to our future selves.
As Crystal Paine says,
"If you want to be more productive, you need to become master of your minutes."
Which tip do you think might be helpful in mastering your minutes?
Image courtesy of radnatt at freedigitalphotos.net