10 Time Management Tips to Improve Your Productivity

Article by Belinda Fuller

Too much to do, with too little time to do it is an all too common complaint. We all need more time in our day, or so we think, but there are things we can all do to make better use of our time. Here are 10 tips:

1. Diarise everything – block out all your daily commitments in a diary (electronic or paper, whatever suits you) – include work and personal appointments; social engagements; children’s/family activities if they apply; and exercise or down time. You can see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with.

2. Track time – spend a day or a week recording what you do each day – then eliminate, delegate and consolidate. Eliminate anything that isn’t productive, delegate where you can, or consolidate tasks – often we do things that may not be 100% necessary.

3. Focus – I’m a big fan of multi-tasking BUT sometimes you need to just focus on one task at a time – try it and I guarantee your results and productivity will improve.

4. Plan your day – check your emails and write a ‘To Do List’ first thing (or last thing) every day. You can set this up as part of your electronic diary, or simply use a pen and paper. The important part is to highlight urgent tasks then plan your day before you start to ‘work’. Prioritising your work this way helps you work more proactively, and there’s something so satisfying about ticking off tasks as you complete them!

5. Establish routines – issues do arise so you need to be flexible, however if you follow set routines most of the time you will be more productive. If you have tasks that have to be completed every day, or most days, try to complete them at the same time.

6. Set time limits – for me, the Pomodoro Technique is fantastic (you can read more about it here). Even if you don’t study this technique, setting time limits for tasks is great for time management. You get stale if you work on the same thing for too long and sometimes coming back to it later helps you see things more clearly. This might sound like a contradiction to number 3 but the idea is that you should complete the task in the ‘time limit’, however don’t beat yourself up if you don’t – simply move onto your next task and feel your energy levels (and productivity) soar. This is also a good strategy for large projects or tasks you procrastinate about – break them into smaller chunks, set time limits, and just get it done.

7. Switch off – you don’t need to always be contactable. Turn your phone off to allow you to work uninterrupted and check/respond to email at certain times. I don’t answer my phone after 5.30pm, however I listen to messages and call back if it is urgent – usually it can wait until morning. Same goes for emails – most people don’t expect an immediate response every time. Closing email to work uninterrupted at certain times throughout the day will also boost your productivity.

8. File things – set up systems and create and follow rules and document naming conventions so you don’t waste time looking for them.

9. Don’t over promise and learn to say no! This can sometimes be difficult in a work situation, but setting realistic deadlines is an important part of good time management so try not to set yourself up for failure.

10. Know when you’re at your best – and take advantage of it. I know my energy levels are at their peak first thing in the morning so I schedule all my complex tasks for then. Work out when your peak is and get the ‘hard stuff’ done. Save the routine tasks for low-energy times.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can always get more organised. Take some time to implement some (or all) of these tips and see if you feel like you have a little more time in your day.

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