When we talk about Time Management, what we're really talking about is prioritising and focusing on what's most important - and eliminating and reducing what isn't. And when we do THAT, yes, we're more productive. But being more productive isn't just about time management, it's also about knowing yourself, knowing when to keep going - and when to stop...
Try these 12 Ideas to not only get more productive, but enjoy your day more too!
- HAVE A SPACEHOPPER MOMENT: Did you have a spacehopper as a child? (The bouncy ball with handles in the picture opposite?) Well, if you're flagging at work - and even if you're not - take 5 minutes to do something silly or fun. Put on a favourite song and sing-along or have a boogie, play tug-of-war with the dog, watch a cute kitten video on Youtube (just ONE mind you!) or go for a skip outside (assuming you can get over the embarrassment of being a full-grown adult who skips - this WILL put a smile on your face). WHY? Once you have had genuine fun and felt the energy surge that goes with it, I GUARANTEE you will be more productive when you get back to it...
- SET A TIMER when using Facebook/Twitter/Browsing the internet. It's easy to get drawn into things – fun pictures, interesting links, updates from friends and before we know it an hour has passed and we end up late or don't get something finished that we wanted to. Sometimes these 'time-wasters' energise or give us the opportunity to play – the trick is to do it CONSCIOUSLY. But whether it's for work or pleasure, set a time limit - and then enjoy guilt and worry-free internet time. Why not use an online stopwatch to help?
- JUST 3 THINGS: Make a list the night before on a SPECIAL post-it pad of the 3 things you would be disappointed, annoyed or frustrated not to achieve the next day. This is of course prioritising, so you'll need to refer to your To-Do List/Plans. But what's different here is your items could be anything from posting a birthday card to making that follow-up call to a potential client, writing that coaching article or renewing your car insurance. Non-work stuff CAN disrupt your day, your thinking and how you feel - and that's why we include them on your post-it if they're important enough. Then, you simply start EACH day tackling the first item on your day's post-it. As soon as you finish the first item, tackle the next item. When you finish that (you know what's coming here), start the final item. If you finish your 3 things with time to spare – great! You can choose to relax OR you can choose to take a look at your "To-Do" Lists again and tackle something else. Feel free to achieve more, but DO NOT add extra items to your day's post-it.
- EARLY BIRDS GET THE WORM: Get to all your meetings 10 minutes early. This tip is definitely counter-intuitive – but try it for a week and see the difference in how you feel! WHY? Much of our LACK of productivity comes from feeling stressed, overwhelmed or having a busy mind. We achieve so much more when we're calm and have a mind clear of self-judgement. Use those 10 minutes to meditate, stare at the clouds or flowers, to reconnect with yourself or even to write your '3 Things To Do' for the next day. And – bonus – if you do hit roadworks or an unexpected delay, you'll be on time!
- KEEP IT CLEAR: Have ONE day a week with NO meetings or appointments. This is your day to work on your big projects. If possible, set it up so that you only check email at the end of the day (it helps if you check your email last thing the previous day). Also, avoid distraction on social media (you could set-up your posts to go the night before). If you MUST check email or social media - set a specific time to check these ONCE during your day - say just before lunch. Also it can really help to make sure everything you need is to hand the night before - have folders out, know what you're having for lunch and snacks etc. Now you have a clear day to work on what's really important to you - without interruptions.
- GET INTIMATE with YOUR personal time-wasters. Keep a notepad by your side for one day and note down how long you spend on what. Even better, watch your time over a week-long period with the Expose Your Hidden Time Wasters Template. WHY? Once you total up HOW MUCH TIME you're wasting, you may get a shock – and choose to spend that time differently.
- CHALLENGE the interruptions. This is possibly the best time management tip out there. We tend to assume interruptions are important and drop what we're working on to help someone else. And while we can't stop people interrupting us, we can change how we respond. So, PAUSE before taking any action and 1) Ask the interrupter, "How important is this?" (You may be surprised by their response) and then 2) Ask yourself, "Is this interruption more important than what I'm currently doing?" You may also like our Interruptions Blaster! Workbook
- PRACTICE FIERCE KINDNESS. You may prefer to chat with a friend on Facebook or a colleague at the water cooler but is this best for you? Are you going to end up rushed, late, stressed or annoyed because you didn't leave enough time or forgot something? Real kindness is not just being sweet and nice – it's also being fierce and strong when you need to be. Fierce Kindness asks, "Is this REALLY best for me right now?". It looks past our avoiding and delaying tactics at the big picture, and helps us do what is right for us.
- MIND THE GAPS: Identify "Filler Tasks" on your To-Do list. A filler task takes less than 15 minutes to do and is perfect for the gaps in your day or to give yourself a break from bigger tasks. Often we fill short gaps in our day (less than 30 minutes) with time-wasting or distractions. Why not give yourself a boost by completing something instead! Extra Time Management Tip: Filler tasks are also a great way to keep productive when you're feeling tired or low energy…
- LET GO (or) Change Your Mind (or) Say No to ONE thing EVERY day. It's that simple. Try it.
- DELEGATE: Find one new thing to delegate. Do YOU really need to do everything on your plate? Or could someone else – a child, partner, friend or co-worker – benefit, learn from or even enjoy doing one of your tasks? Give someone else the opportunity to learn something new or do you a favour - and reap the benefits!
- QUIT WORK EARLY! You've worked hard today, you deserve it. Or maybe you HAVEN'T worked hard! Maybe you're tired, grumpy, stressed out and overwhelmed! DO IT ANYWAY! Call a friend and pop over for a chat, or make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book. When we solely tie our rewards to hard work, this reinforces a societal belief that we ONLY deserve rest, relaxation and reward when we've earned it. Which seems OK on the surface, but actually removes spontaneity - and brings judgement into our work life. We can ALWAYS do better! So, when we 'reward' ourself with an early finish on an OFF-day we're saying I deserve it. I am OK just the way I am and give ourselves permission to be imperfect and flawed. And that my friend, makes us feel lighter and wonderful - and MORE ready to get back at it the next day. So, bad workday? You're OK. It's OK. Finish early, and come back tomorrow refreshed and ready to go!
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