5 Time Management Tips to Improve Your Day
The importance of time management can not be overstated. We as business professionals, entrepreneurs, and for that matter everyone, probably have long To-Do lists that we face each morning. Whether you scribble what needs to be completed on a slip of scratch paper or you have a program like Teamwork that you use to plan and prioritize your day, you have tasks you need to accomplish. How you track the tasks is important, certainly, but that is the overview of time management. Now, how do you manage to get those tasks done, and off your list? I want to share five simple tips that you can start using today, that when implemented, will keep you on track and let you mark those tasks as completed!
Do You Know the Time Cost for Interruptions?
Before we talk tips, let’s talk about interruptions. You may think reading a quick text or checking a social media notification while you are working doesn’t take any time, or even impact your workflow. In fact, it does, it takes you over 23 minutes to get your concentration back. That is according to Gloria Mark from the University of California, Irvine who studies digital distractions, and several other studies that concur. Now consider how many times you are distracted during your day and multiply it by 23 minutes. I think you see my point. Those short interruptions are major time drains. The question is, what can you do to avoid them?
How to Prevent Time Drains
These simple tips are easily incorporated into your daily routine. There is no cost, just your commitment to doing them. I think we overlook them, perhaps because they are so simple, but the difference they can make to your day by eliminating time drains cannot be denied.
- Avoid distractions. Distractions come in many forms. It can be the unplanned meeting that someone wants to have right now. Or maybe it is your mom calling you about weekend dinner plans, during working hours. These require you to set boundaries. If it is not an emergency, speak up to say it is not a good time and offer a time that works with your schedule. (Don’t tell mom I said this, but you could let it go to voicemail and call her later!)
- Turn off your email and social media notifications. It is hard as we are all used to being so connected, I know, but it is worth it. It is human nature to want to check what is going on when you hear that ping from your phone or social media, instead, turn off notifications and schedule a time during the day to check-in and see what is happening.
- Hold off answering emails. While you may want to respond to your emails immediately it would be better to block two to three times during your day to complete this task, creating less distraction for you when completing your larger tasks.
- Schedule your breaks. When planning your day, make sure to schedule your breaks and lunch. This allows your mind and body to rest, making your working time more focused. Try to use just this time to get snacks or coffee to further avoid distractions.
- The Pomodoro Technique. This popular method was created by Francesco Cirillo and was recently discussed in Forbes magazine. This method uses a timer and 25-30 minute work periods, with 2-3 minute breaks. This can be repeated 3 to 4 times and then a longer break is taken. This method helps you stay focused on the task at hand and can be quite effective.
When you incorporate these time management tips into your day, you will increase your productivity and take control of that To-Do list. Your days will flow more smoothly, you will accomplish more, leaving you less stressed and with more free time. It cannot hurt to try them.
To learn more about Time Management, read my recent article on LinkedIn, HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BUSINESS WITH TIME MANAGEMENT, or schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how we can help you control your To-Do list.