Knowing how to manage time better is something we all could get better at doing. Whether it's managing time while at work or time with your family, we all wish we had a few extra hours everyday. So how can you manage time better with less time? It sounds like something out of the 4-Hour Workweek, doesn't it?
Before we begin there are a few mental hurdles you must clear in order to achieve more time to work with.
Start respecting the time you have. Get serious about it. We all know someone who is super productive and gets a lot done during the day. Chances are they're pretty serious and super selective about where they spend their time. They're not checking their Facebook or watching Youtube when they should be answering emails or writing a report. They are organized, prepared, and know exactly what they have to get done for the day. Respect the way you spend your time and it will start rewarding you with more.
This leads us to the next step.
Track your time for an entire week. After every task you complete, log what you did and how long it took. Be very strict about logging everything. If you spend 15 minutes looking at the latest animated cat gifs on reddit you better put it in your log. Don't be ashamed. This is your baseline of productivity. How will know if you're making time if you don't know how much you were spending in the first place?
Pat yourself on the back. Being accountable every minute of every day is a hard task, so you deserve it! Now that you have logged of all activities for the week, take time to analyze and discover where you're wasting your time. Did you use the bathroom a lot? Take a few more snack breaks than you thought? You may be surprised at how much and where you wasted your time during the week. What did you find out?
Write your findings down because you'll be experimenting next. To help you analyze your activity log I've created of list of time wasters to be on the look out for:
- Bathroom Breaks
- Snack breaks
- Smoke breaks
- Phone calls with Friends
- Social media sites
- Non-business meetings
You've got a lot data about yourself. So what should you do? That's really up to you but here are a few tweaks you could try out in the upcoming weeks.
Schedule all phone meetings to occur during one day of the week. Make the calls back to back so you can get them out of the way and so that they don't distract you and un-prioritize your tasks.
Wake up earlier. If you're a night owl, this one is hard, but if you noticed you're being interrupted during your peak hours you may have bite the bullet and wake up a few hours earlier. You'd be amazed how much you can get done when no one is bugging you.
Use software meant to simplify your life. You' don't have to do everything yourself, you can save time by using allocatehq.com to delegate to and manage contractors. And there are browser toolbars that block Facebook, YouTube and any other Internet distraction during your day.
Stop checking your email all day long. Try checking it twice a day at 10am and 2pm. This may seem scary at first but when you're a slave to email, you're constantly pulling away from your current priorities
Turn off the clock on your computer. Many people have the bad habit of glancing at the clock every so often to see what time it is. All of these glances are distracting you from work and make it difficult to re-focus in on the task at hand. Stop being a slave to time and start getting your work done.
Remove all distractions from your work area. Somebody pays you to get a job done, so avoid unemployment by skipping the extra snack, smoke and gossip breaks.
Block off on a calendar all the things you need to do for the week. If you have any problems with procrastination, which is often the biggest culprit of time-wasting habits, you can benefit from a better schedule.
For example, if you check reports every Monday morning, block off the amount of time you estimate it should take you, in your case it's between the hours of 9 and 10. When 9am on Monday morning rolls around, you check those reports. You don't check your email, you don't chat with your co-workers you only do the task you have blocked off. This may seem very strict, but it's actually frees your mind from having to worry about other things.
If you breeze through in less time than you anticipated, move on to your next task. Keep this up and you'll be done before you know it.
Getting more time is all about focus. The better you can keep your attention on the task at hand, the faster you can get things done. It takes determination and willpower to master managing your time better. By structuring your time during the week, you give yourself the foundation of what focus is and what your time means. Get serious about using your days deliberately and the nights and weekends could be yours!