TIME, a commodity every one seeks & we all race against the clock to get things done. proper time management is like finding right pair of shoes – it may take time and lot of effort to find one, but if you get that one pair, you can walk miles without any pain or discomfort. Whether its homework or project or task, being productive with time and picking up the right time management tool gives you the ease of managing things without the hassle. Proper time management grants you freedom from –
Unnecessary delays & deadlines.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a student or manager or executive or freelancer – all you need to achieve some kind of targets and complete your to-do list. With being said, let’s dive to proven time management techniques which might help you.
Creating a to-do list
Before starting my day, I look at my trello boards every day. Since my mind is not occupied and free in the morning, I can organize my to-do list and add items which are important for the day. I use trello for my tasks, you can use a whiteboard, add them to the calendar or anything which you are convenient. What matters is the list of to-do always to be in your sight so that you are reminded constantly. Pro tip! While creating a to-do list remember to keep it simple and doable tasks which can be completed in the desired time. Review or organize your to-do list once in two or three hours.
Combine the power of 20 mins Pomodoro technique for maximizing results.
As you are done with your to-do list, now its time to prioritize tasks. Identify those tasks which are a high priority and those which can be pulled down to list. If you are confused on what to prioritize, highlight tasks based upon deadlines and due-date. This will help you to get a clear idea on what tasks to prioritize and what to move down the list. Always remember to mark as complete when you are done with the task in the list. It not only helps you be confident for getting things done, but it also tracks your productivity.
If you are new to the list, consider splitting your tasks under categories. for eg. Work in progress, to-do, Completed.
There is mixed opinion out there in the community on multitasking. Many people, I say most of the people believe that handling too many things at once helps them to accomplish their goals faster. Well, that’s one side of the story. Our Human brain is not designed to multi-task. The human brain works best when you’re focussing on one thing at a time. Working on more than one task can take a serious toll on your productivity. Actually, there is a research which states productivity drops to 60% when you try to do more than one thing at a once. If you are habituated to multi-tasking, breaking it is not that easy, but still, you have to ensure to avoid whenever and wherever possible.
Delegate your work.
Delegation is just a simple process of sharing your workload to your colleagues in order to ensure a project or task running smoothly as possible. If you are running a project and you are familiar that some tasks need other people expertise and some needs more than one assignee for its successful completion. So, to delegate wisely, you need to understand your colleagues better and their capabilities. Use it to your advantage and learn to delegate wisely.
I have to admit, I had this problem of delegating my work with colleagues because of two reasons – I don’t want to lose control over things and I don’t trust other’s work. But, one of my Senior Managers told me once – “Delegation means you are not running away or giving up control over, it’s an effective way to get things done in short span of time.”
To put this in better perspective, back in B-School, we use to solve business case studies. We need to read 100’s of pages of case studies before going to next day class. One person cannot do it in a single day. So, we use to distribute among our classmates and within 2-3 hours of time we would be able to complete case and come up with solutions.
Scheduling your Breaks
Yes, deadlines and deliverables are important. But, using all the time in a day to meet deadlines is not clever. It is also important that you focus on the desired outcome without burnout. One of the easiest and effective ways to increase productivity and maintain steady progress in tasks or projects without burnout is to take regular breaks between works. Taking breaks to allow you to clear your mind and come back with a stronger focus and motivation. Even that’s the idea behind 5 mins break for 20 mins task in Pomodoro technique
So take a deep breath and take a 5 min break between tasks to rejuvenate and be more productive in the job.
Procrastination is the practice of delaying high priority tasks by choosing less important tasks and scheduling important tasks. It is one of the reasons which wastes your time and kills workplace productivity. If you are reading this article, it means you decided to manage your time effectively, so you need to stop procrastination.
Even it was difficult for me when I decided to stop procrastinating. I have used this technique called time-boxing, where you assign a specific time frame to a specific task in a project. time-boxing helps you to avoid sidetrack or spending too long on a single task. To use this time-boxing, first estimate time for all tasks on the to-do list and allocate a set amount of time for all tasks for the day. Remember to schedule your breaks in between. Choose the length of time which works for you. I usually keep 25 min for a task. If a task is big and takes more than 25 min, I will break it into sub-tasks and sub-sub-tasks if required. The Pomodoro Technique is useful here – it’s a form of timeboxing that involves working for timed segments. You can find the list of curated apps for the Pomodoro technique here.
If you don’t finish your task within the allocated time, you might be tempted to continue until you reach your goal. However, make sure that you analyze what you’ve accomplished and review your progress at the end of each timebox. Ask yourself the following: did you complete your work? If not, why not? How will you schedule your tasks differently next time? Always improvise.
Learn to Say NO
When I used to work on projects, I often overestimate myself without even considering that I am already got my hands full and due to which most of my projects were getting delayed. So one day I decided to say NO. Telling NO is not that easy, but considering the importance of your projects or tasks, you need to learn to say NO. Taking more responsibility for more tasks sounds like a good thing, but you have to make sure it won’t affect your deadlines and projects. But, whenever you overcommit you run the risk of disappointing people. So it’s important to say NO and extra workload and focus on the tasks or activities you already have.
There you go, there are proven effective ways to time management which helps you to do more things in a short span of time. Making a to-do list, prioritizing the list, reducing multitasking, delegating your tasks, taking short breaks and saying NO to new workloads. Remember, putting them to practice will require a lot of discipline and planning. If you crossed that path and put everything in one place you will be at the peak of productivity.
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effortPaul. J. Meyer