October 17, 2014

Effective Time Management Techniques

Flickr CC via RHiNO NEAL

When you think of productivity, being constantly active might come to mind. But while always being in motion can improve your productivity at times, it can also lead to mindless “productivity” where you waste time doing something that you don’t need to do.

The real trick is to work intelligently. Great time management skills are the first step to becoming a smart worker. Here are some helpful time management techniques that will help increase your productivity.

  • Track your actions to see where you are wasting time/being less productive, and then make changes to address any issues you discover.
  • Instead of a to-do list, try an appointment book. For important tasks, make an “appointment” with yourself—complete with a start and end time. Do your best to stick to these appointments!
  • Plan time for distractions and breaks.
  • Take time every day, even if it’s just thirty minutes in the morning, to plan your day. Prioritize what must be done each day and which specific order each day’s work must be done in. Stick to your daily schedule as closely as possible.
  • Schedule time each day for answering emails and phone calls. If you constantly check emails and take phone calls, they can be a significant source of interruption.
  • Utilize the Pomodoro time management technique:
    • Decide on your task.
    • Set a timer for X time, usually 25 minutes.
    • Work until the timer goes off, then take a 3–5 minute break—this is one Pomodoro.
    • After four Pomodori, take a longer (15–30 minute) break.
    • Repeat as necessary.
  • Complete your most important task first. This way, you eliminate the risk of burning out your productivity on less important tasks—hit the ground running and complete your most important task right off the bat.
  • Leave time between projects to relax/decompress.
  • Group similar tasks together, and complete them all before changing gears to some other type of task.
  • Have a dedicated workspace, like a workroom at home or a workstation at your office. Avoid relaxing, eating lunch, or doing anything aside from work in these areas. Eventually, you’ll associate that space solely with work and your focus will likely improve as a result.

Do regular reviews of your productivity and take action to resolve issues with your productivity. You might want to do reviews either weekly or monthly—not so often that you begin wasting time evaluating everything, but not so far apart that their benefit is diluted.

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