We all know ‘making more time’ isn’t actually possible.
We all have 24 hours in a day, you and Mark Zuckerberg. Time just is – you can’t pause it, bend it or ‘manage’ it better.
What you can do is manage yourself better to fire up productivity and make the most of every 24 hours. Check out these 7 tips to help you do just that!
Set mini goals & micro rewards
Setting mini goals and micro rewards keeps motivation up and action flowing throughout the day.
For example, if your goal is to spend the first hour of your morning in the office on the hardest task of the day (eating the frog) you might reward yourself with a coffee afterward.
Your afternoon goal might be to spend 30 minutes working on a presentation due next week.
The reward could be a quick 10 minute break or a walk around the block, which can also help shake off an afternoon slump.
Don’t go crazy with junk food type rewards! Too many sugary treats will have the opposite effect on your productivity.
Do one thing at a time
Say NO to multi-tasking!
Multi-tasking doesn’t save time – it actually slows you down and lowers the quality of your output.
When your attention is divided between multiple tasks it’s easy to make mistakes which just creates rework.
Giving your undivided attention to one task at a time allows you to complete it as quickly as possible, without compromising the quality of your work.
Multi-tasking can also hinder your ability to think creatively. Your mind doesn’t get the chance to think deeply when its focus is being pulled in multiple directions.
Reading resource – Deep Work by Cal Newport
A great book to read on the power of single-tasking is best selling business book Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s full of tips to help you create time and space for getting in the flow state.
Figure out when you are most productive
Night owl? Morning person? When is your focus and productivity at its peak?
The circadian rhythm is essentially our inherent body clock – regulating our energy and hormones in a 24 hour cycle.
There’s a time in our circadian rhythm each day when we are most awake and alert. Figure out when this is for you and work on the tasks requiring the most brain power during this time.
You’ll maximise your output – in both quality and speed.
For example, if you are most alert and focused between 8am – 11am each day, tackle important tasks in this window.
You’ll make a lot more progress than if you tried to do the same work between 3 – 6pm when your natural rhythm is slowing down.
Maximise Your Morning
“Win the morning, win the day.”
Your morning can set the tone for how the rest of your day plays out – either focused and productive or reactive and disorganised. You’re aiming for the first outcome!
Creating positive morning rituals allows you to energise yourself, focus on your priorities for the day ahead without distraction and harness the power of momentum.
Start with just a few small changes –
- Keep your phone turned off for at least the first hour after you wake up.
- Write out 3 work related and 3 personal tasks you plan to accomplish that day.
- Read a few pages of a personal or professional development book to get you in an upbeat, focused zone.
Prioritise Your To-Do List – Find A Method That Works For You
You won’t always (or ever?!) have enough time in your day to get through everything.
Just writing out a long to-do list isn’t enough, you need to prioritise your action items if you want to make the most of your time.
Here are a few ways to decide what tasks deserve the most attention –
- The Urgent vs Important (Eisenhower Matrix) approach
- The ABCDE method by time management guru Brian Tracy
- Or simply choose your top 3 tasks for the day
Finding a prioritisation system that works for you is key – otherwise, you won’t stick with it!
Have a problem with distractions and procrastination? You’re not alone – we all struggle with these time sucking vampires at some point.
Procrastination and distractions will drag you into a spiral of low productivity, stress, and frustration.
Turn off your social media notifications and use an extension on your laptop or PC, like StayFocused, to block yourself from time-wasting websites for certain times during the day.
We generally procrastinate on tasks that seem too hard or overwhelming. The thing is, you just need to get started and let momentum do its thing.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and commit to spending just that time starting or progressing the task. You’ll be surprised how often you keep going.
Link your actions to your goals
Cutting out time-wasting activities is key to making the most of every day. The activities that matter are the ones that contribute to your goals – those big long term goals or smaller short term ones – and it’s these actions you want to focus on.
You constantly need to be evaluating how what you’re doing is related to what you’re trying to achieve.
Make two lists – a list of your goals and a list of your daily actions.
Linking each task with a goal means you’re drawing a line from your ‘do’ (the action) to your ‘why’ (your goal) and this is a great way to keep focused on your priorities.
It won’t be long before you see the activities that are sucking up your time but not adding any value.
A final word – start small
Don’t feel like you need to overhaul everything at once to become more effective at using your time. You’ll get overwhelmed and likely give up easily.
Start by implementing a small tweak, just one tip from the list and slowing adding more.
You’ll be surprised how these small changes can boost your productivity!