6 Clever Time Management Techniques
Note from Lana | Lifestyle Queen Bee: Having a full-time career, a family and life (in general) tend to make you feel like you feel like you can use more than 24 hours in a day. We’ve all been there but really, it’s not about needing more time in the day as it is about effectively managing the time we do have to be at our most productive. Regular Guest Contributor, Christine Hill, has 6 amazing tips that you can inject into your work life ASAP to start to see immediate results – read on, boss lady!
More and more of us are working independently and learning how to manage our own time and energy in order to hit personal or professional goals. Whether we’re taking an online class, working from home, or setting up an independent project, time management is essential. However, with Facebook notifications popping up all the time, it can be difficult to stay on task and get things done. Here are some clever ideas that will help you move forward and accomplish the tasks that you want to do.
Schedule Morning Appointments
Some of us dread morning appointments because they don’t give us time to prep before the meeting. However, those outward-facing tasks force us to be prepared, dressed, and alert. A morning meeting doesn’t indulge your desire to start out slowly, check your email, get lost in the news for a little while, etc.
If your job doesn’t include a lot of meetings, you can set up check-ups with your team or supervisor so that you have some of that peer pressure to get you motivated.
Create an Agenda for Meetings
Speaking of meetings, they can easily be the most time-consuming part of any occupation. This is fine if you’re really taking care of what you need to during the meeting. However, meetings easily get sidetracked and we’re left wandering down tangents indefinitely while the hour ticks past. If meetings are eating up a lot of your time, start creating agendas for each one.
This has a few purposes:
- It enables preparation before and review after, which makes all of the information-sharing, brainstorming, and decision-making more powerful
- It keeps you on task and gives you a clear plan for the meeting
- It gives you an open and a close so that the meeting doesn’t end up lingering longer than necessary
Chart Your Progress
Visual indicators can be incredibly motivating. Remember when you were a child and you got a sticker on the calendar whenever you did your homework? Well, that may seem juvenile now, but the psychology of it is still really powerful!
Consider creating yourself a thermometer chart which you can fill in as you progress. Make sure that you have definitive checkpoints along the way to measure progress. If your goal isn’t really cumulative, it might be better to have a visual to-do list instead, which you can get the satisfaction of crossing off as you go.
Short Productivity Periods
When you have a lot of stuff to knock out, one of the best ways to do it is in short productivity periods. Set an egg timer for 25 minutes or so and barrel through a specific task without pause until the egg timer releases you. Once it does, treat yourself to a 5-10 minute break.
This is a powerful technique because (1) you’re forced to set a specific goal for a time period, and (2) you stay focused the whole time because you know exactly when the break will be… and it’s not now! Obviously, this time frame can be switched around according to the tasks you want to accomplish.
This post has more ideas for managing time slots to get the most done.
Start with the Worst
Do you have a tendency to procrastinate? You might end up with one or two tasks on that to-do list that just stay there day after day after day. You might delay doing that task by getting caught up in all the other not-as-hard, but still important things on the list.
Instead, go straight to your most dreaded task. Put it first on your list. Think of it like eating the Brussel Sprouts on your plate first so that you can afterward dissipate the taste with something more appetizing, like potatoes and gravy. Taking care of your most dreaded task first is great because it eliminates excuses, but it also has a good impact on your mood. You’ll feel like you can do anything after you scale that difficult peak.
Make a Mess
This is especially great for creative work. As a writer, I’ve found that certain blocks of time are crazy-productive, and other days I feel absolutely stuck. Inspiration won’t strike, and I find myself staring for way too long at a blinking cursor.
It helps a lot if you let the pressure off. I have a friend who writes poetry, but he always calls it “crappy poetry writing.” That doesn’t mean that the poetry is crap. Rather, once you take off the pressure, you find yourself able to move forward without the self-editing part of yourself kicking out your feet from under you.
The “make a mess” approach might give you some terrible rough drafts. And I mean terrible! However, once you’ve created something out of nothing, it’s a lot easier to edit later and bring that mess up to scratch. So, whether you need to come up with an idea, a pitch, a new design, a new post… just tell yourself to come up with a terrible idea, or 5. A pitch that will definitely bomb. A new design that will make you want to burn it. Just get the rough material to work with; you can spruce it up later.
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