My life has been fairly hectic lately. Aside from S being poorly, I’ve had trips and meetings and work and all sorts to contend with, and I was ill myself last week. So I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity and time management, and how to be good at both of them. Here are six things I’ve come up with…
1. Use a Timer
Set a timer when you begin a task, and challenge yourself to finish within the allotted time. This can work really well to ensure you get your head down and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by shiny things.
2. Learn to say NO!
How many of the jobs on your to-do list are things you agreed to do against your better judgement? If you don’t want to do something, say no when you are asked.
3. Keep a clock on your desk
… or wherever you work. Using the clock display in the corner of your monitor is no good; you need a decent sized clock face that will sit in front of you and remind you of your time slowly ebbing away while you waste it organising your pens into a neat row.
4. Write down your time wasting activities
Make a list of the things you know you waste time doing. Whenever you find yourself doing something that’s time-wasting, add it to the list. Keep the list in a prominent position so that you can see it while you’re working. It will help you to be more mindful of time-wasting activities. It also helps to keep a list of things you actually need to do in plain sight so that you can keep on top of them.
5. Multitasking is a myth!
Yes, you might be able to write a blog post while researching the next one, replying to an email and updating your social media – but you’ll probably take longer to do them all simultaneously, than if you just focussed your mind and did one at a time. Multitsking slows down our thinking and dilutes our concentration.
6. Make use of down time
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? For men, possibly not that long; but for women, if you factor in time spent applying make up, styling hair and so on, that time can really add up. You could easily spend that time listening to a relevant podcast or audiobook. Time spent waiting in a queue or a waiting room could be spent reading or listening to relevant material. That needn’t mean carting a massive book about with you wherever you go; you can use an e-reader or even download the Kindle app on your mobile
Elizabeth Rebecca · 19/07/2015 at 18:42
Making use of down time is a must – I try to sip water, paint my toe nails and sleep etc.
Vicky Charles · 19/07/2015 at 22:10
Rebecca Waters · 20/07/2015 at 13:36
Great article. Love these tried and true time management tips. I know research says the human brain cannot really multi-task, but the pressure is on out there. I know people who are good at juggling tasks and seem to be productive, but that is not true multi-tasking. So much better to remain focused and get one job done right. Thanks for the post.
Vicky Charles · 21/07/2015 at 18:46
I do find that if I remove distractions and focus, I can achieve things a lot more quickly than if I’m doing two or three things at once.
Tim · 20/07/2015 at 19:01
Number 1 is my single biggest productivity gain. I blog mostly in long sessions of 4 hours or more, and I spend 5 minutes at the start of each session writing a prioritised list of what I want to do and how long I will spend on each task – and then stick ruthlessly to it. Otherwise half an hour intended for reading and commenting on blogs can easily become two hours. I leave a little time at the end of each session as either spill-over or free time. So if I allocate 45 minutes to writing a blog post and it’s not quite finished when time’s up, I move on anyway and use the ‘spare’ time at the end instead. I find that then focusses me even more on not allowing other tasks to overrun. And if I finish everything on time, I have 15-20 minutes of bonus time at the end to do fun stuff like read more blogs or play around on Twitter or Instagram.
I know it sounds very rigid and regimented but it works well for me and stops me procrastinating or getting distracted.
Vicky Charles · 21/07/2015 at 18:40
It sounds like a great way to get a lot done, Tim. I might try it the next time I have proper time at home for working!
Emma Chanagasubbay · 20/07/2015 at 20:30
This is a great post that I really need to take on board. I’m spending way to much trouble with my mind wandering and getting nothing done x
Vicky Charles · 21/07/2015 at 18:38
I can relate to that one! Am trying to increase my productivity because I became aware of just how much time I was spending doing nothing at all!
John McQuay · 22/07/2015 at 00:09
Some great tips there Vicky. I use some but not all of your methods. Other things I find to be advantageous in addition to time management is to look at ways of prioritising jobs. We all have those jobs we m ow we need to do, but really don’t want to; it gets put off and put off until eventually, you give into it and do it, while at the same time putting yourself through the endless misery of knowing that job needs to be done. I fever to it as “Eating the ugly frog”. If you really don’t want to do a job; get it done first, it’s out of the way and you can then work on things you prefer to do, and with a note positove mindset.
The final thing is to look at ways of managing information you send and receive; a process that works for me is called COTA, that in itself is not simple to explain but easy to put into practise. Maybe I could write a guest blog. :-)
John McQuay · 22/07/2015 at 00:11
Although; if I wrote a guest blog. I won’t post as many typos. :-(