5 Tips You Can Instantly Apply
Most people who believe they don’t have time in reality lack self-management.
The truth is, you never manage time. You can’t take one hour and make two out of it. But you can indeed control your productive outcome by improving your self-management and creating an environment that allows you to work effectively.
Many people complain about not having enough time. They are continuously stressed and can’t make time for the things they genuinely enjoy because they are always rushing through their days.
Almost anyone I know is dreaming of the ideal “work-life balance”. For many, this would mean finally being able to integrate activities of pure joy into their days.
“Most people have no clue what they are doing with their time but still complain that they don’t have enough.” — Grant Cardone
What most people get wrong about time is that it’s relative.
We all know situations when one hour feels like an entire day and a whole week flies by as if it was a few hours.
How we view time is relative to how we spend it. And in fact, in 99 % of the cases, we could use our time more wisely.
I am not talking about working faster in order to work more.
On the contrary: If we accomplish our tasks with less effort, we can make time for all the other things in life. Things that light up our hearts, such as spending time with our loved ones, going after hobbies, or trying out new things.
We all need to work (at least if we don’t want to end up living under a bridge), and it makes sense to pursue a job we love, but it also makes sense to increase our productivity so that we have more time for all the other activities in life.
1. Schedule time for interruptions
I am a productivity coach, and besides my personal coachings, I also do several workshops per year. So far, I had the pleasure of assisting hundreds of participants in increasing their productivity during their workdays.
And one of the most common mistakes I see is bulging calendars. I usually ask my participants to do some self-reflection regarding their usual workweek to understand how much time they spend on different tasks. While doing this exercise, many of them open their calendars, and what I see shocks me every time — one appointment after the other. A fully booked schedule from 8 AM to 8 PM. Overlapping events and so much stress.
Many people feel as if working much would lead to success. However, the truth is the contrary.
Working a lot won’t take you anywhere, especially if you are an entrepreneur.
Focused work, however, might change your whole life.
So many people believe they are productive while all they do is rushing through busy calendars without any productive outputs.
Instead of filling your calendar with tons of meetings, events, and unnecessary appointments, schedule in-depth work sessions, and make sure you have enough time for interruptions.
As long as you are not working from home-office and turning your phone off for several hours, you will undoubtedly face distractions during your workday.
However, for some weird reason, most people ignore this fact while creating their schedules. As a result, they get stressed out when facing interruptions because they don’t have time for them.
How to do it:
Don’t fill each minute of your calendar with appointments and tasks. Allow yourself to schedule at least 30–60 minutes per day for unexpected interruptions. We all face distractions, and even if you don’t meet them on some days, it’s better to have more time instead of less.
2. Spend time to plan your days
Almost everyone loves buying cute planners, but only very few people invest enough time in planning their days.
Instead, they start their workdays diving into tasks. However, most of us face challenges throughout our days, and that’s when proper planning can tremendously help to stay focused and productive.
Proper planning can tremendously benefit your productive output as well as your creativity.
Being aware of your energy level, the number of distractions you might face, and having clear priorities on your to-do list allows you to work productively and keep a clear head instead of going nuts.
How to do it:
Every evening, spend ten minutes planning your next day. You will quickly realize how this makes a massive difference in your productivity throughout your days.
Instead of going with the flow, prepare well for your days, and ensure you are in control of your (work)life.
At least, create your to-do list and tidy your workspace so that you can smoothly get to work on the next morning.
3. Set priorities
The #1 time-management mistake is that we believe we need to do it all.
In fact, the 80/20 rule applies to our whole life, and only 20 % of our actions are genuinely critical. The rest of the time is spent doing stuff that is not productive or meaningful.
Eliminating tasks is incredibly hard. It’s much easier to keep a full schedule and keep ourselves busy with trivial tasks, but that’s not how you achieve greatness.
If you want to increase your productive output and improve your time-management, you need to radically improve your ability to set priorities and eliminate irrelevant tasks.
How to do it:
My favorite tool for prioritizing tasks is the Eisenhower Matrix.
It’s simple yet incredibly effective.
In fact, you need to ask yourself two simple questions:
Is this task important?
Is this task urgent?
If a to-do is important and urgent, you better prioritize it.
If it’s, however, neither important nor urgent, you might consider eliminating it at all.
4. Eliminate distractions
We are living in an extremely fast-paced world, and hardly a minute passes without external distractions.
Thus, it’s critical to create a distraction-free environment for our productive work times.
Without interruptions, we can get so much more done. However, most people are so used to their phones, push notifications, and disturbing co-workers that they don’t even know how it feels to work for 10 minutes without any interruption.
Yet, a focused mind is critical to getting your work done in less time and even increasing the quality of your output
How to do it:
Create distraction-free time blocks and use them to get your critical job done.
During that time, eliminate all notifications on your devices and even ensure you don’t get distracted by anyone in person.
If you are working in a big office or co-working place, headphones can be a great way of telling others you don’t want to get distracted.
Otherwise, a “do not disturb” sign might be the only solution.
5. Do the important tasks first
Which is the one task that would make the most difference in your work today?
By asking yourself this question, you can find out which to-do to tackle first.
For most people, getting essential tasks done is more comfortable at the beginning of the day. That’s mainly because our energy levels and willpower are at the highest during mornings.
The later in the day, the less energy we have, and tackling tough tasks becomes increasingly difficult.
How to do it:
Every evening, invest a few minutes in figuring out what your most important task for the next day is.
Once you know the answer, prepare everything in advance so that you can immediately tackle that task once you start your workday the next morning.
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