While time management apps help us configure and control our schedules, it is still best to exercise time management skills and create a habit out of them. Maximum productivity, after all, is reached when one is able to produce more results in a shorter period of time.
To help you kickstart that habit, here’s a rundown of seven of the most effective tricks and tips to establish better time management!
Manage your day according to your prime time
Our energy levels differ from one another. Not everyone can wake up before 6 A.M. to be the best and most productive versions of themselves. The same goes for the early birds who are most likely to have low energy levels by the time the clock strikes 9 P.M.
To increase productivity, it is recommended that you take advantage of your biological prime time (BPT). Your BPT is the time of the day when your energy level is at its peak. In essence, it is when you feel most alert and productive.
Once you have determined your BPT, organize your day not by time blocks for each activity, but by the amount of energy you will spend on it. For instance, you can work on proposals and reports in the afternoon, if you’re more focused by then than in the morning.
While this technique may not explicitly be about time management, keep in mind that the end goal of time management is productivity. By taking advantage of your BPT, you’ll be able to achieve exactly that.
Take advantage of your downtimes
“I don’t have time for that.”
Whenever I hear this statement, I always do an imaginary headshake. I regard this statement as an excuse. There is always time for everything. It’s just a matter of effective time management, of course.
People tend to forget that downtime can mean extra time to accomplish things. For example, if you’re an early riser and can manage to wake up at least 30 minutes before everyone else in your household, you can use this time to visualize how your day will go.
Identify the most crucial tasks of the day and schedule when you need to accomplish them. You can even do this while showering!
For commuters, maximize your commute time for small tasks, such as checking your e-mail, gathering updates on a project you’re working on, or following up on a client.
You can also turn your lunch break into a working lunch session instead of just having lunch at your desk or outside. This way, you’ll be able to cross off client meetings and lunch on your to-do list at the same time. Who knows, you might even close a deal!
It really isn’t about having the time, but more of making time, especially for your day’s important tasks.
Set a time limit for each activity
When I schedule my day, I block off at least 30 minutes for an activity. For example, 7:30-8:00 on Thursday evenings are for yoga; 10:00-11:00 on Tuesday mornings are for project A and the same time slot on Wednesday mornings are for project B.
Setting up an allotted time for each activity can remind you of deadlines and schedules that need to be followed. Time limits can also reduce distractions and drive you to focus more on the task at hand. This way, you ensure not only the completion of a project within its expected timeframe but quality, too.
A usual office work day includes meetings with clients and business associates, writing reports, and presenting project proposals. If you have the same routine at work, you can schedule related activities together.
Say you have two client meetings, a business presentation, and three reports scheduled in one day. You can set the client meetings in the morning, do the business presentation during lunch, and tackle the reports in the afternoon.
In doing so, you exercise the same mindset for related activities which can help you in working smarter.
Reduce meeting time
I know many would agree when I say that meeting time is one of those most dreadful things in our schedules. Meetings tend to be unproductive and they eat too much of our time without really accomplishing anything.
The best remedy to this is to cut meeting time by at least 25 percent.
As much as possible, try to inform everyone about what will be discussed during the meeting. Around thirty minutes prior to the scheduled meeting, you can give them an outline of the talking points so that they can have an idea of what will be discussed.
Not only will this help everyone prepare for the meeting and bring up relevant concerns, it will also keep them focused on the subject.
You can also consider the three P’s for effective meeting facilitation: purpose, process, and people.
Determine the purpose of the meeting by knowing what it is for and what needs to be addressed. Then, determine how to go about the meeting. Decide whether it will be a presentation or a discussion. Lastly, get the right people to attend the meeting.
The three P’s will help you accomplish more within a shorter meeting time because they ensure that the meeting is on track and that the topic discussed is heard by the appropriate people involved.
Another trick to keeping meetings short is to conduct it standing up.
Consider interruptions and distractions
Distractions are, most of the time, inevitable. Because of this, it is best if you can take them into account and include them in your schedule.
Set aside fifteen minutes in the morning and in the afternoon to check for e-mail updates and scroll through your social media sites. Give your daily schedule some leeway to accommodate an urgent meeting or an emergency phone call.
Once a colleague knocks on your door, be ready to either tell him to come back in a few minutes or give him spare 5-10 minutes of your time to talk about his concern.
You also need to determine whether an interruption is urgent or not. This way, you’ll be able to identify whether it can be put off for later or not.
Taking short breaks in between work is as important as scheduling and prioritizing when it comes to productivity. In fact, it keeps you from maxing out your energy and potentially suffering from a burnout.
In the Pomodoro technique, the five-minute break after every 25-minute work session is necessary because it helps lessen anxiety and regain focus.
Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic recommends that breaks be included in a daily routine to maximize work effectivity. It benefits one’s mental and physical health because it reduces stress, allows your eyes to relax, and improve memory retention, concentration and attention span. It also helps one to step back from the task and re-evaluate his or her goal.
So don’t fret too much about taking a much-needed break!