Productivity is a measure of how much work is done in a given amount of time.
The more work a person gets done during this time, the more productive that person is. In order to get more done and be more productive, good time management skills are essential. We all have days that are less productive, but our overall productivity should be high from one day to the next. How do we ensure this is the case?
To come up with a strategy for time management, you need to know yourself. You need to understand your personality, how well you prioritize and organize, and how self-disciplined you are. You also need to have a good grasp on which methods of organization work best for you in terms of scheduling your time.
With this in mind, here are the best tips to make your time management strategy one that maximizes your potential.
Assess how you spend your time
When you’re ready to determine how to make the most of your time and increase your productivity, you need to first understand how you currently spend your time. A useful tool is to create a time journal or time log. You can spend a week or two writing down what you have done in each 15-minute interval during your work day. Once you have this written down, you can go back over it and work out whether you accomplished everything you needed to get done during those periods of time and over the entire day. You can also see a number of other valuable pieces of information, including:
Where distractions crept into your day
- The time of the day during which you are the most productive
- What tasks or activities take the most time to complete
- What in your life takes up the most time in your life, whether that is work, family, recreation, or something else, and what takes up most of your
- time during your work day (meetings, project management, etc.)
- Whether you are using your time to complete the most important tasks/activities
Determine your priorities
You have recorded what you do each day and know what you are dealing with. Now you can choose the most important tasks and put them at the top of your list in terms of priority. Essentially, you need to go through everything you do on a regular basis and prioritize these things in terms of what is:
- Not important
The best way to manage your time is to take time away from non-important tasks so you can focus on more important tasks, hopefully preventing them from becoming urgent. This will keep your urgent priorities to a minimum, reducing your stress.
Prep time is critical
Once you have the information on your current use of time, you can then make a plan. Preparing your schedule ahead of time each day will help you better manage your use of time. Some people do this at the end of the day, setting themselves up for the following day before they leave work. Other people choose to get up and have an early start to their day, using this time to plan ahead and set their schedule.
Scheduling is your friend
You need to schedule your time and record that schedule so you know what you are doing and when you are doing it. It’s like a place for everything and everything in its place. You should determine what time of day you are most productive and make that the time when you get the most important tasks done.
Use a planning tool that works best for you. There are plenty of scheduling apps that will remind you of when you have appointments coming up or something is due. But, some people still work better with paper planners. You need to decide what is best for you and stick with it. Here are some tips to follow when scheduling your time:
Don’t write notes you plan to transfer to your planner later on. This just increases the risk of disorganization and missed appointments or deadlines. Instead, record everything directly into your planner.
- Ensure that if you use both a planning app or electronic planner and a paper planner that the two are always synced.
- Make sure you look through your schedule/planner on a daily basis.
- Keep your planner with you at all times.
- Always have a list of your priorities in your planner.
- Remember to have a backup of your schedule, especially if you have an electronic version.
Make sure your work environment is decluttered and that everything has a place. Getting rid of clutter is the first priority. Throw it away, give it away, or sell it if you don’t need it. Once you have decluttered, you can then set up an organizational system. When you are organized, you give yourself the best opportunity to increase productivity.
Now that you have taken care of everything on your end, including assessing your use of time, preparing ahead of time, scheduling your time wisely, and getting organized, you will need to do something about the distractions that come from your surrounding environment. This includes electronic distractions and distractions that come from people in your life.
During your assessment of your time use, you listed all the distractions you found during your day. When it comes to the electronic distractions, you can uninstall or hide apps that are not necessary for you to do your job. When you are in heavy work mode, close your email and turn your phone to silent. Whenever possible, keep yourself apart from people who will be a distraction.
Proper management of time will increase your productivity. Following the above steps will help you focus on the most important aspects of your schedule and you will be better able to manage your time so that you will be more productive than ever.
Do you have any tips about your own time management strategy? Share them in the comments below!