You get 1,440 minutes each day. And I don't want to waste one minute of that time, so here are some quick tips to learn to take advantage of every minute you have and get the most out of your time!
1. Audit Your Time for a Week.
Spend a week journaling your time, hour by hour, and how it is spent. This will be a good jumping off point to see when you are most and least productive, and how long it takes you to complete certain tasks. Toggl is a fun resource that can guide you through this if you need a little help getting started.
2. Make a To-Do List.
You can do this in a notebook/ journal, or by using several different digital tools. I personally create a written daily to-do list in my Game Changer notebook and then use Trello for a larger-scope to-do list. Trello allows you to make checklists, notes, and due dates all in the same spot and have many different boards, so you can get as detailed as you’d like.
Every Monday morning I hop on Trello and make a list of things I need to get done, place them in order of importance or urgency, and start making my way through it. When I feel myself getting off-task, I jump back to Trello to remind me what needs to get done and when.
3. Create a Schedule.
Keep a calendar of how you plan to spend your day. Block out time to work on each project that needs to get done that day (ex. From 9:00am - 11:00am I will finish Project A) and stick to it the best you can. When planning out your day, schedule the highest priority things first, to be done in the morning. Color-coding your calendar based on the project can also be a quick and easy way to keep organized.
4. Practice Deep-Focus Working.
Deep-Focus working, outlined in Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, is a great guideline to be the most productive during your time. This could be for an hour or a week. A very small summary would be to start by picking a location free of distractions, this may be a home office, a cabin in the woods, or your desk at work with some noise canceling headphones.
Set a time and duration. For example, at 10:00 am, I will work for two 30 minute sessions, with a 5-minute break in between. Create a structure with rules. Is your phone going to be on or off during this time? How will you measure whether the work session is successful? Stick to these rules during this time. What requirements do you need to be the most productive? Do you need to keep water nearby? What kind of music do you listen to, to keep you on task? Plan for everything you need ahead of time so you won’t get distracted by them during your session.
5. Learn to Value Your Time.
You don’t have to say “yes” to everything. Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking on too much or overscheduling your day. This means you should also schedule relaxation or downtime. Your brain can’t stay on task for 8+ hours straight. Schedule some time throughout your day to take some breaks.
Set up time in your evening to do something not work related. Recognize those time-intensive distractions that you don’t need in your life. Learning to value your time is important to not reach the “burnout” state, but also will keep you on track to accomplish some of those goals.
Justine Smith is a Graphic Designer for Excelerate America, the fun, smart service for businesses looking to level up. Do you have any quick time management tips to add to this list?Share them with Justine by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.