We all seem to be trying to fit more into our days and it always seems to feel like we just don’t have enough time. But time is a human construct, we all have the same amount of it in any given day, so why do some people just seem so much more productive?
I just don’t like the phrase “Time Management”, so instead, here are my top tips for being more efficient.
1. Write it Down
Simple, but effective. There is a reason it Number 1. Keep a diary, write To-Do lists, use the calendar on your phone, you can even download apps these days, just Write.It.Down.
Time Block if you have to – block out every moment of your day. Personally, I don’t do this as it doesn’t allow much flexibility… hello, kids! But, I do write down a To-Do List every day with basic timing (e.g first thing, after lunch, afternoon). And man it feels good to tick those things off as I go.
I also find it works better to do this before I ‘Log Off’ the day before. It means I can start my day fresh, knowing exactly what needs to be done and I sleep better without the constant “Must not forget” brain chatter.
2. Stop Multi-tasking
I know, it sounds counter productive, but multi-tasking has actually been shown to be rather ineffective. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Get it done without distraction and tick that thing off your To-Do list before you go on to the next item.
If you can’t get that one task done in time, leave it behind and move on, without being distracted trying to do both tasks at once. You can always come back to the first task later. Trust me, it will still be there.
3. The 80/20 rule
I had an old boss that loved this rule and applied it to everything in life, it’s a great efficiency tool. The rule goes that 80% of the results will come from 20% of your action. Find those tasks that require 20% of the effort but gain 80% of the results. Then focus your time on them.
4. Do the thing, you know the thing, that one thing you don’t really want to do
There is a quote around somewhere about if you had to eat a toad everyday to stay alive, you would eat the toad first thing in the morning so you didn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. While, I’m certainly not suggesting eating toads, the premise is true.
If you’ve got a difficult phone call to make or a job that seems bigger than it is, get it done FIRST. It will stop you procrastinating everything just so you can put off that one task longer. The bonus is that once it’s done, you can already stress less and be more productive with your day.
I even find I get a weird (almost nervous) energy after I’ve dealt with a particularly difficult task. You can use that energy to get even more done in your day.
5. Only check your emails at certain times
Schedule your diary to only check your email at certain times. That constant distraction all day of checking your emails takes up more time than you would think. Limit that time to certain points throughout the day, for example, first thing, before lunch and before you finish for the day.
Oh, and turn off your notifications. It may only be 5 seconds, but the constant looking at your phone because you’ve got a notification can add up big time throughout the day.
6. Break Up Large Tasks
Have a massive job that needs to get done, break it down. It’s easier to schedule and mentally deal with smaller tasks. Break the job down into each item that needs doing, then get started on item one. The momentum will keep rolling every time you tick off one of the smaller items.
And take a break – if you are really stuck on something, take a break and come back to it later with a fresher mind. While you are dealing with a certain problem, you can get blinkers on and not see the answer until you take a step back. Walk away, make a coffee, ge t on with something else and come back to the problem later. The answer just may appear.
7. Look after Yourself
I know, I know – you don’t have time to look after yourself. The problem is, when you don’t look after yourself, your body just doesn’t seem to function at optimal speed or efficiency. I’m not saying go on a massive health kick, lose 10kgs and start running marathons, I mean get enough sleep, relax when your body is telling you to stop, fuel yourself right and get some fresh air.
I know, it’s hard, this is a case of “do as I say, not as I do” as I’m really bad at this point. But I do know that when I have those days after a good nights sleep, when I eat a good breakfast and maybe take a walk, I am so much more productive than if I drag myself out of bed late, have nothing but coffee and sit straight at my computer. On those days, I just can’t seem to get started.
And, of course, outsource…
If there are tasks that someone else, like a Virtual Assistant can do, then don’t be afraid to outsource. You only have so many hours in the day and your time is valuable. Whether you need more time to deal with clients and potentially earn more yourself. Or even if you just want to be able to have some downtime away from your business, a Virtual Assistant can take away some of those everyday tasks that seem to take up all your time.
If you would like to learn more about how I can assist you or your business with becoming more efficient, contact me here.