We all work with the same 24-hour period every day, but have you ever wondered why some people get so much more done than others? When you become strategic about managing your time, you’ll find you can produce more and do it even faster.
To get the most out of your day, try these strategies:
1. Plan your day ahead. When you take time to plan your day the evening before, you are likely to be more efficient at the start of your day, setting the tone for higher productivity. Take a few minutes at the end of every day and identify what tasks need to be completed.
2. Prioritize your tasks. Know what tasks need to be done and what tasks don’t. Sometimes we have things on our to-do lists that never really need to be completed in the first place. Brian Tracy, time management expert says to “Eat that Frog,” meaning do the hardest tasks first. You’ll produce the greatest results when you start every day doing your most difficult and challenging tasks with the highest reward/benefit.
3. Quit multi-tasking. Multi-tasking used to be valued and still is by some managers and leaders. However, multi-tasking has now been proven to lower levels of efficiency and extend the length of time a project takes to be completed. If you find yourself multi-tasking throughout the day, stop, and redirect your focus. You’ll likely move through more of your tasks this way. We’ve been conditioned to respond and work on many things at one time, but once you recondition yourself to be more focused, you’ll notice a big difference in your mental clarity and ability to produce. If you need to retrain those around you to limit interruptions, let people know what time they can reach you and what times you’ll be available that won’t interrupt your work flow.
4. Use time blocks. Time blocking is a great way to set a routine that will allow you to get more done—faster. Use time blocks to check emails, write reports, make phone calls and anything else on your to-do lists. You can schedule these activities for when you know you’re at your best to complete them. For example, if you need to make phone calls and are better at doing that in the morning, block out the morning for that activity. Go through your day and see what activities make the most sense for each time. Then stick with that schedule to move through your day. A consistent routine will also help you train your brain to work on specific tasks more easily.
5. Set a timer. We often lose track of time when we work on tasks or a project. We can suddenly look at the time and find that much more time passed than we had anticipated. To be more aware of time, set a timer. Have the timer go off every 20-30 minutes or for the length of time you’d like to spend on the task. The mental alert about the passing of time will make you speed things up. In many cases, we get stuck on a small part of the project and don’t realize how much time it’s literally taking out of our day. A timer will help control that.
6. Delegate. Anything you aren’t good at, don’t need to do, or don’t love to do – delegate. Too many times we think we need to do it all, or that other people can’t do it with the same accuracy as we can. This is false thinking. Find those tasks that you can let go of and clear your calendar with more space to do the activities with more impact.
You can find more time in your day by implementing some or all of these strategies. We all get the same 24-hour time period, but how you choose to use it is completely up to you.