Guest blog post from CloudApp user: Ben Adamski
Don’t be fooled. Everybody can use a crash course on time management. Even that one friend of yours who runs a business, has a side-hustle, washes her car regularly and makes homemade jam. Because even the best of the best fall down the rabbit hole of inefficiency sometimes.
Regardless of where you are on the time management scale, here are a few solid tips I rely on to help me run most of my days like clockwork.
1 - Learn how to Prioritize
Not everything on your to-do list is an emergency. But when each task stacks up they start to blend together, with each assignment feeling just as urgent as the last.
Before you dive into the day’s work, simply write or iCal your top three priorities - your MUST get done list for the day - and you’re only allowed three. A bad habit that many of us have is stuffing our day planners to the brim and then wondering why we can’t seem to get it all done? Overwhelm and not being able to prioritize = unproductivity.
Also remember that knocking out a huge task takes a lot of mental energy, so organize your day in a way that allows you to accomplish the large tasks first, followed by smaller more manageable ones.
2 - Take One Task at a Time
People think that multitasking means accomplishing more, but multitasking actually leads to burnout, less accuracy, and therefore more time spent. Dedicating your focus to a single task and taking it to completion will give you more time to do more tasks as well as improve overall focus, decision making and problem solving. Makes you wonder why we praise multi-tasking so much, right?
3 - Time Box Tasks
“If I give you an hour to do a task it will take you an hour. If I give you four hours to get it done, it will take four.”
This saying is not new, but commonly overlooked, because we automatically assume that projects need to take longer to complete than they actually require.
Simply set a reasonable expectation of time to complete a task. Having a deadline for the task streamlines your focus. Anyone can ignore Facebook, not reply to an email, not answer a Tweet for an hour. Time-boxing tricks you into putting distractions out of your mind until you finish your project.
We’re huge fans of the Pomodoro method and our friends at Zapier, put together this awesome list of the best Pomodoro apps to help you block out time and get that task done before the timer goes off!
4- Measure Your Time Management
The only way to know if you’re getting better at time management is to measure your progress.
As Peter Drucker would say, “You can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Create a way to log your time on a task and quantify your improvement. I use a bullet journal and review/critique changes to my workflow weekly and monthly.
5- Be a Planner
Yep, you. A planner. Gone are the days of cramming and surviving by the skin of your teeth. If you want to succeed you have to plan for it, which means you’ll have to put in some up front work (and time) but in the end you’ll actually save time, by establishing a long-range plan and clarity with your team. By pre-planning and setting goals as a group, your team will also be encouraged to be their most productive self when they see how their role plays an important part in reaching big goals!
6- Learn to say NO
The most productive and wildly success people say NO far more than they ever say yes. Why? Nobody has time to work on every project that comes up in a company and dropping projects is necessary in order to prioritize more important tasks. It’s key to evaluate every task before taking it on by asking yourself if this project actually supports your goals. If not, drop it. Warning: Saying no once leads to your ability to say no all the time.
7- Batch Tasks
If you hear your colleagues talking about “batching-tasks” it simply means they’re doing the same type of tasks in time blocks, rather than skipping around wasting time with unrelated work. The reason? Switching gears to unrelated tasks pulls you out of the zone, and it can take you up to a half hour just to get back into groove for each type of task. Batching allows you to stay focused, productive and eliminate time waste. No more being busy for 8 hours straight with nothing finished to show for it!
By changing behaviors that suck your energy and time - you’ll be on the fast track to free up more of that precious commodity in your schedule. If unfinished projects, emails and tasks are always hanging over your head - that free time of yours isn’t all that free is it? There will always be more time to get everything done later, but only if you make time for it now.
Blog post from Ben Adamski