We’ve all heard the standard ways to improve your time management so I decided not to waste my time or yours by writing about those (I didn’t think that would be effective time management) so instead I’ve shared below the tricks I use to drive my productivity. My clients use these and get great results so hopefully they’ll work for you too.
Here are my top tips to make the most of every minute I choose to work:
1. Set boundaries around tasks. If you know you need to work on something but you have a tendency to let that expand to take up more time than it should then do something to stop that happening. I set the timer on my phone to alarm once I have spent the amount of time that I think I should do on it. For example, I look after numerous networking groups and I could easily sink several hours into emails/phone calls etc for them every day but that would not be the best use of my time, and as I tend to get easily absorbed into doing it I set my phone to alarm after 45 mins so I know I can get my head down and work efficiently on those emails/phone calls for 45 mins and then I will move on to another item on my things to do list.
2. Protect yourself from distractions: Like most people I am easily distracted especially by emails, phone calls and Facebook. So when I need to be very focused and productive I shut Facebook, I take my emails offline and I put my phone on silent and also turn it over so I can’t see the screen flashing at me when someone is calling. I also tend to set my phone to alarm after a set time so I know I don’t even need to check the time. This one works really well for me.
3. Work when it least impacts quality time. I have two sporty daughters which means I’m often doing “mum’s taxis” in evenings and weekends. Most people drop off and then go home or run errands and waste time driving around. Instead I park up at the venue and work. I find this is great as I have little distraction (quite often I work in my car) and I can really get my head down and be ultra-productive, while my children are happy doing their activity, and my husband also gets some quiet time so it’s a win:win all round.
4. Use yourself against yourself: My value set is such that I will always deliver to my clients. If I have committed to get something done for them, then it is always done. I find that if I have a chunk of time and I want to get several things done in it, one of which is for a client, then my old tendency would be to do the client work first. This would then have a habit of expanding to fit the entire time I had available and wiping out my ability to get on with the things for me. Now I do it the other way round because it drives my behaviour to work efficiently on my tasks so I definitely have time to do my client work. It also has a great side-effect of making me stick to the amount of time the client work should really take.
5. Split your things to do list: If you read any “effective time management” books they all say you should write down everything you need to do in a list. I find that most of my clients, and myself, will tend to prioritise client tasks over tasks to grow their own business. This is because you are allowing yourself to make your client work be more important than growing your business. In all fairness they are equally important so they deserve equal billing in your things to do list. To manage this I split my list into 2 columns, the first column is headed up “for me” and the second “for my clients” and this really helps me to make sure my tasks get the focus they deserve, as well as my client work.
6. Be aware of your comfort zone: It’s very easy to wiggle out of doing certain tasks because you don’t particularly want to do them. I find when this happens to me there is a distinct drop in my productivity as I’ll find every little distraction activity going. Get very good at noticing when you are doing this and incentivise yourself to get those “out of your comfort zone” tasks done. This will definitely improve your productivity.
Remember, the way you work is in your control so what steps are you going to take this week to work more efficiently?