10 Ways to Win at Time Management Today
It's easy to win at time management when you have a road map. Here are 10 things to try today (and every day) to crank up your efficiency.
- Take 30 minutes at the start of the day to map out your day. Include regular responsibilities, meetings, commitments and mission-critical tasks. Recognize that some of these priorities may shift over the course of the day; because you've already planned for them, you can adjust on the fly.
- Turn off visual and audible notifications. Block out set times to handle email and phone calls, and avoid these distractions between communication periods.
- Stay off social media. For crying in the mud, just say no -- unless it's central to your business and/or daily work responsibilities.
- Schedule "office hours" and work periods. During office hours, colleagues are free to interrupt you; during work periods, you're completely shut off from others so as to focus on cranking out work.
- Preplan for phone calls and meetings. Even just five minutes of preparation in which you determine the planned result of each call or meeting can dramatically improve its effectiveness.
- Make a to-do list. Be careful to not make this to-do list too perfect -- what you're trying to achieve here is mental feng shui.
- Shift your focus according to the 80-20 rule. Spend your best hours, energy- and focus-wise, on the 20 percent of your efforts that yields 80 percent of your results.
- Get up and walk around regularly. Health experts recommend getting up once an hour. The idea is that you focus on medium- to long-distance objects to relax your eyes, get your muscles moving around, and thereby recharge and refocus. For efficiency's sake, try adding a brief burst of athletic activity, like charging up and down a flight of stairs or cranking out 10 pushups. Over the course of a workday, this activity adds up quickly, and you'll notice the change in your mood and energy levels.
- Build up momentum. I like crossing off items on my to-do list with an obnoxiously thick permanent marker. Over the course of a day, my to-do list turns black, signifying the tasks I've sent into a black hole.
- Gamify your day. Dangle a proverbial carrot in front of your nose by thinking of an appealing, tantalizing reward for a super-productive day. This could be as simple as a soak in the bathtub after work, a bottle of your favorite wine or an evening on the sofa for a DVR marathon.