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Time Management Tips

Updated: Mar 3

time management tips

I’ve come across some varying opinions recently on time management from large corporates reducing to a 4-day week and increasing productivity to smaller companies and freelancers it seems struggling with working 7 days a week and burnout.

So, what is the balance and how do we manage our time more efficiently? We can’t make more time in a day so how do we use it better and become more productive?

Whether you are trying to reduce the number of hours you are working a week, find time for other tasks or just looking to be more productive, lets take a look at some tips I have found on the subject.

Acceptance of the time you have and prioritise

A common theme seems to be accepting the time you have and the fact you will never clear all tasks. Accept that you can’t do everything and look to prioritise what you can do. Which one task would have the most impact if you only did that today? After that task anything else you complete is a pure bonus!

This really starts to look at prioritising work and understanding what’s important. We often prioritise work by deadlines and answer to those we are chasing the most, this style keeps us busy. However, if we adopted a different model to prioritise tasks by intention and according to our future goals, we can help to drive value into our work, remove the unimportant tasks and clear out the clutter.

To do this we need to understand all the tasks we have in one list. Each task wants a title, deadline dates, time estimate and an understanding of urgency and reward from the task. Having one list like this can help us see everything that’s needs to be completed and prioritise. Don’t just look at this list from a time perspective but look at what’s going to help you achieve your goals. Utilise the reward column as a way to sort the tasks.

Priorities may change so its worth reviewing the list on a weekly basis to check if the list is still relevant, anything that might need removing, adding or reordering.

Plan time out to stay on top of tasks

We all need time out, chance to make a cup of tea and just breathe for 10 minutes. We often feel guilty for this task which can lead to procrastination and more time being taken up than what’s needed. By planning in these breaks and setting time aside we know its part of our schedule and if we’ve planned for it then its OK.

When we are completing large, complex pieces of work we also need to think about breaking this down. Its hard to stay focused and motivated for long periods of time. Look at the task and think right I will get to X point and then stop. This may be to get a drink, got talk to a colleague or even go for a walk.

The benefit of taking this time out allows you to regain focus and motivation. You can then see the progress you have made and easily identify any issues or mistakes that need correcting. You reset the focus and can then continue to complete the task in a timely manner.


Eat your frog!

If anyone has read the book by Brian Tracy, you will know what I mean. So, have you ever sat with a list of jobs you need to complete that day and one job on your list is complicated, hard, time consuming or often the most boring? You spend most of the day avoiding it, doing other tasks that you didn’t need to do that day just to try and escape it.

It then gets to late afternoon and you can’t put it off any longer the task has to be done. You procrastinate whilst doing the task whilst results in you working late and it taking longer than required. Sound familiar?

Your frog is that task. The frog should be eaten first before you do anything else in the day. The most complicated and hardest task should be done first. This requires discipline and commitment from yourself but getting that task done and out the way will have such a positive effect on your mood and productivity for the day.

The key to adopting this method is to ask yourself each day what is my frog? If you need to stick a note to your screen with the question so it reminds you each day to ask the question and seek out the frog. You can utilise principles from the last topic to break down the task and make it more digestible.

Taking action first thing in the morning and getting that big task out the way can put you in the right mindset for the rest of the day. You may feel positive, happy and relieved that it’s done. This can then have a knock-on effect for how much work you get done in the remainder hours with people often seeing they complete more work than planned.

Frequently asked questions on time management:

1. How do I make time for my long-term goals when the day to day gets in the way?

This is about prioritising work and clearing out the clutter and noise. Create a list of all tasks including what you want to achieve for future goals. Set priority, reward and order this list by these factors.

2. How do I keep focused on a piece of work?

Break the project down into manageable chunks and plan breaks. By planning a break, you are giving your mind chance to refocus and gain clarity. You will be able to easy spot any mistakes and reduce procrastination.

3. How can I get more done in a day?

Get the hardest tasks done first and break these tasks down into manageable sections. Once you see what you have achieved this will give you a sense of achievement and help you be more productive and focused for the rest of the day.

Conclusion: Time Management

Poor time management can result in a loss of control, poor quality, frustration and burnout. Assess what you need to achieve and create a list of the tasks you need to complete. Manage this list not just by deadline date but by reward and long-term success. The hard jobs need completing first thing in the day, get them out the way to feel a sense of achievement and gain motivation. When you can see progress, it gives you motivation to continue.

Find more tips to help you be productive with our other time management posts - read more.


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