As a coach, I frequently work with clients who have a problem with time management. It’s a learned skill and doesn’t come easy to everyone. Of course, time management can also be restated as our ability to be both productive and efficient in our jobs. It also helps prevent job burnout, as you not only are more productive but feel more accomplished at the end of the day. The 7 tips I want to share with you today are excellent productivity hacks for efficiency. Let’s take a look at each of them and how they can help.
First, be willing to change
Do you still utilize email as your to-do list? While I’ll talk more about tools in a minute, my point here isn’t to promote or criticize the role of email in your workflow. Rather, it’s to challenge you to think about whether what worked for you 5 years ago is still the best process for you today. Business has significantly evolved over the past decade and will continue to do so at an exponential rate in the coming years.
Be prepared to try new things and adopt new behaviors if you’re serious about increasing your time management efficiency.
Second, set your daily goals
Are you reactive with your daily to-do or proactive with planning what you want to accomplish? A reactive approach doesn’t address a problem until it becomes one.
By setting daily goals, you’re taking proactive steps to EFFICIENCY. Some people like to do these on Sunday evening before the workweek begins. Others will do it Friday afternoon at the conclusion while others still will spend the first hour of their day setting goals.
In any case, you need to know what you need to accomplish before starting. Consider using a tool like Todoist to help you get organized. However, no matter when you set your daily goals, the best productivity hack is to make certain you’re setting them, period.
Next, prioritize the worst task first
Some people call it eating the frog, others say you need to eat an elephant one bite at a time. Regardless of your chosen analogy, the idea is to tackle the task you’re dreading first. For example, let’s say you need to sit down with an employee who hasn’t been finishing their assigned tasks regularly. This is going to be a hard conversation, especially if you’re going to put them on a performance improvement plan.
As uncomfortable as this conversation is going to be, take care of it first before moving on to your other duties. It gets the hard conversation off of your agenda right away and everything else that follows will seem easy by comparison.
Otherwise, if you do it later you’ll be thinking about it throughout the day and possibly negatively impact your efficiency with your other responsibilities.
Then, take breaks — I mean it
One of the leading causes of burnout is employees who refuse to take time off. Whether you define a break as a 15-minute walk in the middle of the day or utilizing paid time off, you’re not going to be as productive as you can be without rest. Even though you may feel like you can’t afford to take time off work or step away from your desk, time management experts agree that the best way to tackle your job is to be mentally recharged.
You’re only recharged when you take breaks.
Apple recently released iOS 15. A part of the software update includes something they call Focus. It’s another tool, but what’s important isn’t whether it’s Apple, Android, or Microsoft.
What matters is that you need to block out segments of your day to be focused on heavy-hitting or difficult tasks. Work in bursts: 90 minutes of straight, uninterrupted time. Put on some light music, turn off as much off as you can, and focus on the task at hand. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how much more efficient you are when you work in focused increments.
Throughout all of this, utilize the right tools
I’ve mentioned a few tools in passing: email, apps, and software-related focused assistants. I could continue with lists of other tools, such as collaboration platforms Slack or Asana.
Here’s what’s important: make sure you’re utilizing the right tools. For some, that could be a simple pen and paper. For others, app-based environments work. Just be willing to change, as I said in my first tip. If what you’re doing today doesn’t seem to keep you on track, experiment with other productivity tools to see if they’re more efficient.
Finally, remember what’s important
All of the tips and tricks in the world won’t matter if you don’t remember why you’re doing what it is you’re doing. For some, that’s personal career success. For others, they want to be a good provider for their family.
Some people live to work while others work to live. I make no judgment against your why. Rather, remember that each of the tips I gave you today is designed to help you achieve your why. Efficient time management that maximizes your productivity can help you reach your goals.
If you need help identifying your why — the most important thing — I’m here to help. Send me a note and let me know how I can assist you. I’d be more than happy to schedule a time to talk about your time management acumen and how it can keep you focused and on task every day.