If you’re like us, you’ve probably spent time scouring articles, blog posts, and maybe even a book or two for how to best manage your time. Which, when you think about it, is just another waste of your time. And even when you do find valuable information, actually integrating what you’ve learned can sometimes introduce a whole new set of challenges.
If you’re not willing to set a schedule and stick to it, you’ll never master time management. We asked 20 of our co-workers to give us their best time management tips. Below are the top five:
Monitor Your Schedule. Spend one week mapping out your day. That is, from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep, record every action, every thought, and every interruption. At the end of that one week, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you spend the majority of your day doing. From there, you’ll be able to evaluate the time of day, and day of week that you are most inspired, most productive, most tired. This will come in handy when it’s time to prioritize your tasks.
Block Out Tempting Distractions. It sounds impossible, because old habits die hard, but you will see an immediate change in your productivity when you’re not checking Twitter, Facebook, or your phone thirty times an hour. According to consumer and business credit reporting company Experian, Americans spend an average of 16 minutes per hour on social networking sites. If you work an average nine hours a day, five days a week, that’s around 720 minutes, or 12 hours a week. That’s an incredible amount of time that could be better spent on your business. Less time spent on tempting distractions means the opportunity to end your days earlier and spend more time doing the things you love.
Start Your Day with a Plan of Your Day. Before even getting out of bed every morning, make a list of what you want to accomplish that day. This could mean completing a project, emailing a newsletter to your subscribers, or publishing a blog post. Going in with a game plan will help you to stay the course, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel upon completion will make this short morning routine well worth it.
Take Some Time for Yourself. What helps relieve your stress? A walk outside, a power nap, and popping popcorn were all suggested as ways to clear and recharge a mind. If you can’t remember on your own to take a break, sent an alarm or alert. Step completely away from your desk and computer. After your short break, look at your calendar and see if you’ve been working productively. If you have, great, continue as planned. If not, reprioritize how you are going to use the next few hours.
Prioritize. Not every email and project needs to be finished today. Not all tasks are number #1 priorities. Look at your weekly calendar and based on the week of monitoring that you did (see “monitor your schedule”), place your hardest and/or most important items on the days and during the times that you work best. This isn’t a perfect science, but if you stick to this routine, you will gradually begin to see the quality and pace of your work production pick up.
If you’re not going to practice good time management, you’re just continue wasting more of your day. But with a few tweaks to your routine, you can see results.
We want to hear from you! What time management tips can you offer? Leave your comments in the section below.