Do you ever get to the end of the day and wonder how you managed to get so little done? You’re not alone. And while you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for your time management shortcomings, here are 10 ways you can get more done.
1. Make Appointments With Yourself
If a task or project is important enough to do, it’s important enough to add to your calendar. Get in the habit of calendaring everything, and sticking to those appointments.
You should place as much importance on your appointments with yourself as your doctor places on his or her time. Miss a doctor appointment and you’ll be charged the full fee anyway, and your time is just as valuable, so don’t let yourself get away with broken appointments!
2. Set a Timer
No matter what task you’re working on, set a timer—preferably one that makes an audible ticking sound. You might choose a 25-minute time block as recommended by proponents of the Pomodoro Technique, or you can simply set a timer to remind yourself of your next appointment. The psychology is the same no matter which method you choose.
The idea here is that the ticking sound helps keep you on task. It’s a subtle reminder that you’re supposed to be working, so when you’re tempted to wander off to check Facebook, your subconscious will help keep you focused.
3. Take a Day Off
Have you ever noticed how much more you get done in the last days before vacation? Suddenly you’re super motivated to:
- Return all those phone calls you’ve been putting off
- Clean out your email inbox
- Finish your bookkeeping for the month
- Get the rest of the month’s blog posts written
And anything else that represents an “open loop” in your life or business.
You can create that same sense of urgency to get things done simply by scheduling a day off. In fact, you may even decide to take this strategy one step further, and take an extra day off each week!
4. Give Yourself Permission to Say No
You’re not responsible for everything, but all too often we feel that we simply cannot say no…to anything.
This is especially true for coaches, because you’re passionate about helping others and you love to give. But if you try to accommodate everyone, you’ll wind up stressed out, overworked, and your time management skills will suffer.
Instead, learn to say no. Say no to the client you don’t want to work with. Say no to the volunteer position you don’t have time for. Say no to another year as treasurer for the PTA. You can (and should) even say no to household chores that don’t have to be done.
After all, no one will be harmed if your living room doesn’t get dusted today. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time working on something that really matters?
5. Take a Break
Too much time spent at work can be decidedly UN-productive. When it begins to feel like you’ll never get all your work done, it’s the perfect time to step away from your desk for a quick break.
Go for a walk in the park. Nature has a wonderful way of recharging our batteries.
Play with your kids. They’ll remind you why you do what you do every day.
Read a novel. Paint a picture. Knit a scarf. Just do something other than work. It will improve your perspective and give you more energy to face the rest of your day.
6. Give Up Control
A leading cause of overwork — especially for “type A” personalities — is the feeling that you must have control over everything. When you mistakenly believe that no one can do your job as well as you can, you’ll take on too much work and ultimately fail to get everything done.
A far better choice is to give up some control and allow others to help.
Does it really matter that the towels aren’t folded precisely as you’d like? Or that a sales page isn’t formatted quite the way you’d have done it?
Probably not. Learn to recognize when good enough really is good enough, and let go of your need to have everything “just so.” You’ll save hours of time that can better be used on other projects.
7. Practice Focusing
How many browser tabs do you normally have open while you’re working? Ever listen to a webinar while responding to emails? How about browsing Facebook while writing a blog post?
All these multi-tasking habits (and many others) are massive time-wasters that can turn a 30-minute task into an afternoon of accomplishing next to nothing. While we all like to think we’re good at multi-tasking, the truth is, multi-tasking is really “task switching,” and every time you stop to quickly do something else, you lose your focus. That lost momentum costs you added minutes every time you turn your attention back to the task at hand.
So close all those browser tabs, turn off your webinar, put a block on Facebook, and regain your focus. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you’ll be.
8. Schedule Shorter Meetings
No other workday task manages to feel so important while being such a waste of time. Nip these time-sucks in the bud by scheduling only those meetings that must happen, and keeping them to a minimum.
- Skip the small talk
- Create an agenda — and stick to it
- Use email to discuss non-urgent topics
The obvious exception to this rule is your client meetings, but even those can be more productive and maybe even shorter by applying the rules above.
9. Reduce Interruptions
Text messages, Skype conversations, email notifications and other “urgent” interruptions will take you out of the moment and add up to hours of lost time over a week.
Make it a habit to turn off your phone, Skype, email and other instant message applications while you’re working. Between tasks, schedule a quick check in if necessary, but don’t allow these interruptions to dictate the course of your day.
10. Plan Your Day the Night Before
Do you turn on your computer in the morning and immediately jump into Facebook or email because you don’t know what you’re supposed to do next? Or do you turn to your calendar first to know what task you should be focused on?
Schedule 15 to 30 minutes at the end of each day to plan out the next, and you’ll never again be caught wasting the first hour of the morning on non-essential tasks.
What are some of your time management tips for getting things done? Please share in the comments below.
Hi and welcome to Virtually Done. I’m Leslie and it’s a pleasure to meet you! If you are an online entrepreneur or small business owner struggling to find enough time in your day to concentrate on the tasks you are passionate about, I can help you!
If you would like to learn more, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you!