Over the past few weeks, I've been aggregating many time management tips I share with my clients to get more done in the limited amount of time they have.
It's a mix of managing your time more effectively and dealing with that old devil — procrastination. By the way, if you feel you're the worst offender in the world, get in line. We ALL suffer from these ailments:
Time management is really prioritizing your tasks. If you really want to get something done, block time for each task in your calendar (yes, keeping an accurate calendar is critical). Ensure you add buffer time (prep work, travel time, etc.) or your calendar will fail miserably.
You will always find an excuse to procrastinate. Procrastination has its own in-built solution, usually involving panic and adrenaline (read this).
Take frequent, short breaks. Falling back to regroup can help many people recharge and regain focus when things start getting fuzzy or monotonous. Go for a walk, stretch, get a coffee — move away for a few minutes and then come back to it.
"Perfect is the enemy of good." I develop a good balance of quality and time — I schedule a strict deadline and work to it. The result won't be perfect, but it will be close to perfect every time. My articles take 60 minutes to write — they’re not Shakespeare, but thousands of people read them and let me know how many of my crazy ideas have changed their lives.
Work for 50 minutes out of every hour. The Pomodoro technique works pretty well for me and many of my clients.
Learn what your productivity kryptonite is. For some it's surfing, coworkers, surfing, clients, phone calls, surfing — download an app if you don’t have the willpower. There are a bunch of plugins/apps you can download to block yourself from distracting websites: StayFocusd (Chrome plugin) or SelfControl (Mac program).
Always have a notepad handy. Write down anything/everything you may think you will forget in short form. You can then transfer it to your calendar.
Plan out each tasks into smaller, more achievable steps. Keep your to-do lists short — meaning nothing more than 2 or 3 steps. I've found that if I follow this, there's a better chance of completing them and less chance of becoming overwhelmed and giving up.
Go to a public place where we feel we might be judged if we are not doing work. It might be the public library, Starbucks, central conference room or the company cafeteria.
Make a schedule of what you will do in one day and stick to it. At first, it will be difficult to accurately estimate a solid workday — but you’ll get better at it with time. Reward yourself for achieving your goals that day — you deserve it.
Buy this book by David Allen. I read it years ago and I felt more relaxed in the first week — it really helps you to focus on the things that really need to be done.
Find out which hours you are at your BEST. For example, I’m a morning person so I try to do critical tasks early in the morning. Many problems arise when we try to do the hard stuff when we’re not mentally/physically ready for it.
Eliminate elements which tend to eat your time like unnecessarily long phone calls, useless chats with people, etc. Figure out what they are and cut down doing them.
Don't play the victim. If I get distracted by something, it isn't the fault of what/who distracted me, my cluttered-brain, whatever's making me sad, or some ADHD affliction — it's my fault. I did that. Own it and move on.
Buy AirPods. They’re a giant productivity boost for me — they allow me to focus on getting important things done and they discourage wacky interlopers.
And finally, my favorite:
I construct each weekday in such a way where the only work that needs to be accomplished is incredibly important to me — like coaching my clients. Try to put yourself in a position where what you do is what you love.