Have you ever wondered why some people are uber-productive? You know the people who always respond to emails and finish projects on-time. It’s not because they work 80 hours a week.
They’re so productive because they’re masters of time management.
While time management is a skill that everyone should as soon as possible, it can be strengthened at anytime. And you can start by reviewing these 25 time management hacks.
1. Plan Your Day + Create a To-Do-List
Plan your entire day first thing in the morning. This includes everything from tasks like checking emails to hosting meetings to the travel time of your daily commute.
A to-do list is an ideal way to organize your thoughts and tasks. Crossing off those completed tasks one by one is immensely satisfying as well.
If you’re not much of a writer, there are online versions like Todoist, and Wunderlist. Or a calendar app might just be enough. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
2. Controlled Cheating
The “The Pomodoro Technique,” created by Francesco Cirillo, is one of the best time management techniques around. It works like this: 25 minutes work, then a 3-5 minute break. Do this four times.
After you’ve have worked four 25 minute periods take a 15-30 minute break. Then begin again, 25 minutes of work/ 3-5 minute break, with a longer break every four periods. You do this until you’ve completed your task or work for the day.
Believe it or, you’re more productive when taking little breaks here and there. This is because you reach a point when our productivity plateaus. And we need those moments of relaxation to recharge.
3. Conduct a Weekly Review of the Week
Conducting a weekly review is an excellent time management habit to develop. The Weekly Review, via David Allen, author of the classic Getting Things Done, involves the following steps:
Get clear by tidying your workspace and emptying your inbox. Then, review your projects and organize them by priority.
Next, get current. This means going over your upcoming calendar, projects, actions lists,and checklists. Doing so allows you to cut out anything that’s inessential.
Finally, get creative. Review projects you’ve wanted to get to and find ways to slowly slip them into your schedule. And, think about how you can be more efficient, such as using time management apps.
This practice will help you plan your schedule, avoid nasty surprises, and stay on-top-of-things.
4. Turn Off Email Notifications
Staying on top of your emails is important and you need to respond to them in a timely manner. However, that doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately. Stopping for an email breaks your focus. Then you’re concentration is bouncing between thoughts – which makes it harder to jump back-in.
This easiest way to avoid this from happening is to turn-off email notifications – do this with social media too. Then, you need to set aside specific times to check your emails. For example, I check mine within the first 30 minutes of waking-up and then in the afternoon.
5. Take Five
I mean five minutes prior to any call or task to decide what result you want to attain. As noted in Entrepreneur, “This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down.”
“Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?”
6. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking is wasteful and ineffective. It may sound counterproductive, but you’ll achieve more if you singletask. This is because you’ll give the task at hand your full attention.
For example, allocate one hour in the morning to work on a proposal for a client. After that, give yourself a break and work on the next priority.
7. Find Your Groove
We all have that time of day when we’re performing at our peak performance. For your, this could be after your morning cup of joe, late afternoon, or even at 2 am. Whenever it is, get as much done as possible during your peak productivity times.
Want to find your most productive time? Start by paying attention to your energy and focus levels. For me, I’m most alert and attentive in the wee hours of the morning.
8. Break Large Projects Into Smaller Tasks
How can you accomplish extremely large projects that seem impossible to complete? Break those large tasks down into smaller, manageable tasks. Here’s one way to start.
Look at the big picture to understand what the final product should look like.
Determine a step-by-guide on what needs to be done.
Think about the logical order of completing the pieces.
Create a timeline for completing your task.
Put the time you will spend on the project into your schedule.
Finish early so you have time to review.
9. Don’t Get Pushed Around By “Time Bullies”
These are the people that invade your time – whether if it’s at home or in the office. For example, it’s the client that interrupts your vacation with frequency calls or emails. Or the kids that burst into your home office during working hours.
Don’t let these bullies push you around.
When you’re on the clock that’s your time for your work. But when it’s your lunch hour, you’re off-the-clock. Remember, that that time is YOURS.
There are two ways to prevent this from happening. The first is learning how to say “no” when you’re busy. The other is placing a “do not disturb” sign on your door.
10. Set Deadlines For Everything
Giving deadlines to yourself is a tried and true way to keep you on track. Think about. Without a deadline you may be more inclined to procrastinate on said task.
Personally, if have something due on a Friday, i make sure it’s done by Thursday. This not only alleviates stress, it also gives me time to review it.
11. Delegate or Outsource
Despite wanting to do it all, Bill Smith, founder and CEO of Shipt, knows that this is impossible. “I know there are some areas of my work life that are best to pass off so I can keep focused on what is most important. Hiring a fantastic executive assistant is crucial.
“It may be difficult at first, but let this person manage straightforward, time consuming tasks.”
Don’t have that person on your team? Then consider outsourcing certain tasks, such as bookkeeping, to a freelancer.
12. Get Creative
“I’m always trying to maximize my time,” says “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John. “For example, I’ll do my emails when I’m on a plane, instead of when I’m in the office.
I try to have my team members handle as much of the meetings as possible — I’ll be involved in the last part so I don’t have to sit through five separate meetings of the same purpose. And when I have personal interaction, I try to maximize that as well.”
13. End Your Day on a Good Note
Review your day. What did you miss out on? Determine the reasoning behind it so that you won’t make the same mistakes again.
However, also think about what went awesome and make a note of it. For instance, how did you write a blog article ahead of schedule? Ending your day on that high note will encourage you to do the same the next day.