6 time management hacks to improve productivity
Firstly, we need to define what time management actually is. The Glassdoor team defines time management as, ‘Time management is the ability to effectively prioritize your work. It’s essentially your aptitude for staying productive and ensuring you are meeting your overall objectives.’
We understand that everyone’s role looks different. You may work remotely, or maybe you’re in the office every day. Perhaps your role is very data and analytics based, or you’re a designer who has more scope for creativity. But we believe these 6 productivity boosting hacks can be applied to whatever your role or task may look like.
1. Understand time VS priority
You know your role better than anyone else. Learn to understand which tasks simply need to be done and which you have scope to spend more time on; to be creative or to take a new and innovative approach. This will take some trial and error, plus self-confidence in believing that you are the right person for the task because you have the knowledge and experience behind you.
To help with structuring what we’ve mentioned in a more visual and clear way that you can refer back to, we suggest using the Eisenhower Matrix.
2. Use the Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a way to visually chart your tasks based on priority level. Firstly, draw a quadrant (a box made up of 4 boxes inside it), and label them like this:
Quadrant 1: Important and urgent (the most important tasks that you should do first, potentially because they have the most urgent deadlines.)
Quadrant 2: Important not urgent (tasks that are important but have later deadlines. These types of tasks are where the opportunity lies to spend more time on them and potentially be more creative and innovative with your approach, if you want to be.)
Quadrant 3: Urgent not important (where possible try delegating these tasks out. If you’re unable to do this, schedule a block of time in your day to do these together and tick them off in one go. We’ll cover time blocking in more depth a bit later.)
Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important (delete these tasks from your to-do list!)
This technique is something you can create every day or every week to organise your to-do list. It helps you prioritise your tasks and gives you a birds-eye view of everything you need to do and what the purpose of each task is.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique to avoid burnout
Now that you’ve got an understanding of everything you need to do, plus why you are doing it (because the Eisenhower Matrix has helped you understand the purpose of all your tasks through analysing the urgency and priority of them), you need to understand how to complete these tasks in the most efficient way possible.
We suggest using the Pomodoro Technique. All of us too often sit down in the morning and try to blast through as much work as possible before we get to later in the afternoon when we know we’ll be feeling more sloggy and tired. The reason we start losing concentration around 2/3pm is because we haven’t been giving our brain the right mini-breaks to maintain concentration over a longer period of time.
The Pomodoro Technique suggests working like this:
The thing to ensure here is during your breaks, get up and do something different. That might be making a cup of tea, going to the bathroom, stepping outside for some fresh air, speaking to a friend or someone in the office. But don’t just sit at your desk and go on your phone and do something else on your computer. You need a change of scenery.
4. Time block
Another way to complete your tasks in a more efficient way is to block together tasks that are more similar. If you have a lot of short tasks to tick off your to-do list, bulk these all together and do them within a 1-2 hour time block in your day. Or if you have multiple small copy or content writing tasks to complete, again bulk these together within the same block of time in your day.
The reason time blocking allows us to save time and work more efficiently is because it takes us time to switch and adjust our mind to different types of tasks. When you block similar tasks together, you’ll already be in the flow of doing that type of task.
5. Turn off notifications
What we described in the ‘time block’ section is essentially a physiological state of ‘flow’ – a state of mind coined in 1975 by the Hungarian-American Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is when we are immersed in a task and the rest of the world seems to slip away.
To ensure any state of flow you enter is not disturbed or interrupted, we suggest turning off your phone and email notifications. Towards the end of a 25-minute time block of the Pomodoro technique, you can check these before having your 5 minute break.
6. Be realistic
Lastly, to be able to prioritise tasks and create time blocks, you need to have an in-depth understanding of how long your tasks actually take. We’ve all fallen into the trap of creating ourselves unrealistic to-do lists for the day, then feeling disheartened when we don’t manage to get everything done.
Before implementing these productivity hacks, spend some time tracking and estimating how long your various tasks take you. This will help you to create more realistic to-do lists for each day and to be able to create realistic time block estimates.
Still struggling to manage your time? Perhaps you need a Virtual Assistant. Get in touch to discover how we can give you more time and more freedom in your business.
Removing things from your to-do-list means you’ll have more time in your day; more time to focus on growing your business! Here’s just a few of the tasks we can take off your hands to lighten your load:
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