As you are reading this I have to assume that you constantly run out of time before you run out of task. There are countless books and programs available on time management and getting things done but they all take time to read. A classic ‘Catch 22’.
Here are six simple tips I personally use practically every day. These will not only give you an extra sixty minutes a day, sometimes more but you will also get a lot more done. There is only one catch. You have to actually use the tips and put them into practice.
Tip 1 – Silence that ‘ping’
You have email. Doubtless, every time the ‘ping’ goes or the duck pops up you stop what you are doing and check the email. Stop doing that. In the days before email the postman arrived once a day. Nothing is ever so urgent that it can’t wait another hour. Mute or disable whatever ‘you have mail’ signal you use. Better still, disable the automatic check and do it manually at predetermined times. Say, three times a day. When you do open up; read, action, delegate, file or delete immediately, each email in turn. Aim to have no more than half a dozen un-actioned emails sitting in your in box, at any given time. Be strict – you can do this.
Tip 2 – Unsubscribe…ouch!
Subscriptions to mailing lists, blogs, feeds etc., seem to multiply like rabbits. Unfortunately, they all take time to read. Reduce the numbers of these and you will immediately have more time. But do it this way: Un-subscribe from ALL of them and then re-subscribe only to the ones that you absolutely have to have. It sounds drastic. It is drastic but you might surprise yourself. I know I did. This action alone gave me back at between two and three hours a week.
Tip 3 – Be Selective
Turn off the TV. Turn it on only when you want to watch something. When you are done watching turn it off again. Be selective about what you want to watch and schedule that time just as you schedule everything else. You will be scheduling everything! – see Tip on scheduling below. TV, in this context, includes radio.
Tip 4 – It’s old but proven
The oldest piece of advice in the book – make a list. It still works. Make a list of everything that has to be done and that you would like to accomplish. Then sort into priorities. In business anything that is geared towards generating income naturally outranks everything else, no matter how important or urgent the other items may seem at the time. Next, schedule everything on the list into a chunk of time below.
Tip 5 – A chunk of time
To best schedule your day, break the whole day down, from start to finish, into approximately forty-five minute chunks with a fifteen minute break after every two or three chunks. Think school or college. They scheduled the days that way because it is proven to work. Drop tasks that need to be done or that you want to achieve, into the forty five minute chunks. Some tasks may need more than one chunk. Try not to allot more than two consecutive time chunks to any task. Try and finish each task within the allotted time. If you don’t finish and need more than a literal two or three minutes, then stop working on it, close the file and move on. Re-schedule it for a later time chunk. Download a countdown timer and use it. Several things happen here. One, most importantly, you will find that you really strive to finish a given task within the allotted time. Two, you become aware of how long you may be spending on tasks which are non-productive. Three, you become aware of how and on what, your time is being spent in general.
Tip 6 – focus, focus, focus
You’ve scheduled the task now stay focused on the task at hand. If you can turn off phones for while do so. Put your cell phone on silent and let it take messages. Every time you find yourself distracted and about to wander onto another task and it will happen, check yourself and focus again on the task at hand. Remember, you only have what is left of your forty five minutes or ninety minutes if you scheduled a double chunk. If you do think of something else that needs doing, simply make a note of it and attend to it when appropriate.
Bonus Tip – Sleep Fast!
This one may be a difficult to accept and little tricky to master but if you can, it pays enormous dividends. Take a power nap. If you can find a comfy chair away from your desk or workspace then, sit, relax and close your eyes for ten minutes. You will awake enormously refreshed. Yes, you might need to splash your face with cold water but it is really worth it. After you have eaten lunch is a good time and maybe early evening if you are needing to stay awake and active for a while. Keep it down to ten to fifteen minutes maximum, no more. Practice will get you there and when you do you will feel energized and get a whole lot more done.
Final Thought. Use it…Don’t use it
Get seven hours sleep each and every night!