Productivity is as much about managing time as it is about being skilled and using the right tools. But it’s better said than done. We all come to a point in life when time seems to be flying and before you have managed to do anything, the day seems to be over. Then the weeks and the months fly and life seems a blur with no achievements. Time management is a complicated subject and depends to an extent on the individual and traits of the individual. But there are some basic habits that can benefit everyone and can get you started down the right path increasing our productivity multi-fold. Let’s take a look at the habits.
Create a daily plan
This is basic, but very necessary. Everything will fall apart if you do not have a well thought out plan ready. And it has to be a plan on paper, not in your mind. So, take the time out, sketch a plan and make it detailed.Create a time map for each task
Set advanced reminders
If you have to leave for a meeting at 9, do not set a reminder at 9. Give yourself some time. Ideally 15 minutes is a good margin, but you have to find your own margin of convenience and set reminders.
Again, basic, but a must. If you have an electronic device, whether it’s a handheld device or a laptop, there are tons of apps, free and paid, that can help you in many ways. Pen and paper still work, but not like apps. So, if you have not already, find the apps that suit your requirements.
Know your deadlines
Just making a list of tasks and sub-tasks is not enough. If it does not have a deadline, it will get neglected under the weight of other tasks. Even if the task is not very important, do give it a deadline, So set a reasonable deadline and once you have done it, make sure that you take your deadlines very seriously.
Learn to say no
Let nothing creep into your daily agenda if it actually does not deserve a place in it. Learn to say “no” to others in a respectful, yet firm way.
Target to be early
Always try to reach office early with enough time on hand. It’s a habit that will help you a lot in the long run. It allows you to settle down and transition smoothly from a commute or other mental occupations to what really needs your full focus and attention.
Keep a clock visible to you all the time
Do not let time fly away and not realize it. Keep a clock in front of you and make it a habit to keep glancing at it. Make yourself always aware of the time.
This one is easier said than done, but focus is a key aspect of managing time. If you need external help, find out what helps you focus. For some people it’s coffee, for some others it’s soft music. Find out what works for you and practice to be focused as you work.
Block out distractions
Distractions are everywhere. You have to deal with the impulse to surf the net, check out social media statuses or to call a friend and have a chat. Make a list of things that easily distract you from work and figure out how you can deal with them.
Track your time spent
This will help you streamline your plan as life goes on. You need to know how much time you are devoting to different kinds of task. It will help you figure out how much time to allocate to tasks and projects when you make plans for future. You will also collect enough information to find out if some tasks are taking more time than normal so that you can find out ways to do it faster.
Don’t fuss over unimportant details
There is information and then there is noise. Learn to filter the noise. Learn to know what matter and what doesn’t. Learn to spend less time sifting through things that do not matter in the end. The less time you spend on what is unimportant, the more productive you will be. But for that, first you have to know what is unimportant.
Having a list of tasks and projects is not enough. You have to have the list in the right order. Prioritize everything. Put weights to them. Segregate on the level of importance – critical, important, normal.
If you have a team, delegate responsibility and supervise as much as you can. Don’t try to do things all by yourself even if you are the best person to do it. It will throttle your bandwidth and will seriously compromise your productivity.
Batch similar tasks together
They are easy to finish off faster if you bunch similar tasks together.
Cut off when you need to
Do not allow one task to eat into the time of another task. If you have scheduled yourself to switch from one work to another on a given time, do it. Do not carried away or get lost in time.
Leave buffer time in between
Always leave buffer time in between tasks. You will need it because estimating the exact time needed to finish a task is impossible and it is also impossible to foresee what else might come up requiring your attention. If not anything else, it will give you a much needed break of a few minutes to re-energize yourself;f.