Here’s how to take control of your life and your time so you can be the queen of productivity in the coming year.
We’ve all been there. We designate a certain amount of time to complete a list of tasks and by the end of the day we haven’t gotten through the list. We end up wondering where all the time went. Why do work tasks and home chores take longer than we think they will?
1. Document your time use.
In order to truly understand where your time goes, you have to document it. While you might think that checking email, texting, or scrolling through Instagram only takes a few seconds or minutes, in the end, that times add up. Take a day or two to write down hour by hour how you spend your time. If you’re checking email every few minutes or scrolling through social networking sites, you’re spending time here and there that should probably be devoted to your chosen tasks.
2. Have designated times for checking email, social networking, etc.
Once you realize where your time is going, trim the fat. Even if checking email, social networking, or texting is important for your job, that doesn’t mean that you have to do it throughout the day. For example, I like to check my email first thing in the morning from my phone so I don’t have to check it when I sit down at my desk. Additionally, I allot a few minutes in the afternoon to do any social networking that needs to be done. That means I don’t break up focused energy on mindless tasks.
3. Use your golden hour wisely.
For the majority of us, the first three hours of the workday are the most productive, and as a result, they should not be used on administrative work. Spend the golden hour on the most thought-provoking work, whether it’s a new project, a complicated article, or a brainstorming session of ideas. It’s when we tend to be the freshest and the most focused. However, some of us are actually the most focused late at night, and if that’s the case with you, no worries, just take advantage of that time.
4. Cut the chatter.
Workplace chatter is important because establishing good relationships at the office can make your job more enjoyable. But at the same time, don’t waste too much time chatting with coworkers. And if you’re on deadline, don’t be afraid to walk away. If you go to a coffee shop or work at a co-work space, wear headphones to signify that you’re busy or excuse yourself after you’ve spoken for more than a few minutes. Remember, your time is valuable and it should be treated as such.
5. Stop multi-tasking.
The brain is only capable of focusing on one task at a time. That’s why when you end up trying to do more than one task at a time, you’re using the same amount of energy but simply fractioning it out. In order to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, write your to-do list from most important to least important and do one task at a time.
6. Get focused.
Spend the beginning of each day getting focused and simplifying your to-do list. Each morning, I decide what three to four tasks need to be done first. Whether it’s writing an article, editing an article, brainstorming pitch ideas, or sending out queries, I decide what’s most pressing before I even start my day. I start with the hardest tasks first and do the most mindless tasks in the afternoon when thoughts are less on point. Meditation is another important tool for getting focused. While meditation does take time out of each day, it also keeps our mind from racing and keeps you on task so that you end up making more out of your day.
7. Pretend you’re billing hours.
This is especially helpful for freelance workers, but it’s also really good for employees. Lawyers, consultants, and public relations executives all bill their time. This helps them to understand exactly where it’s all going. If you were billing your day out, how much of your time would actually make you money? This is another tool for ensuring that you’re not wasting time. In my case, admin work is not where I dwell, because it takes away from my income.
8. Get enough sleep.
You’re more likely to waste time in your day when you’re not at 100 percent. If you’re tired, you’re more likely to get caught up in mindless conversations, take too long at lunch, or look at pictures on Facebook. The mind is less focused and more likely to get lost. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night so that you’re ready to take on your day with vigor.
9. Say no.
As I mentioned above, it’s a great idea to choose a few focus points or tasks of the day. But at the same time, you don’t want to let someone else get in the way of you getting them done. If someone asks for your help on a task or invites you to get together when you don’t have time, learn to say no. Your time is sacred and the only way to ensure it is to guard it carefully. Outside of work, decide the activities that stoke your passion and dive right in. Don’t be afraid to say you can’t do something when it’s not appealing and don’t schedule too many activities outside of work that throw you off your schedule. Over-scheduling can throw the balance off and reduce productivity.
What tips and tricks help keep you on task? Are you a victim of the time suck? Where do you waste your time? We want to know! Drop us a line via Twitter @EcoSalon