The world is full of distractions. You have social media alerts, news updates, text messages and we still haven’t gotten around to the age-old distractions like family life, work responsibilities, and budgeting your money.
How can you stay productive with all these things vying for your attention? Are we doomed to be rushed, unfocused, and unproductive?
Fortunately, the answer to that question is no. The most productive people practice a few key time management strategies every day. Lucky for us these tactics are easy to replicate with a little practice.
Here are 11 time management habits that increase your daily productivity.
1. Defining your purpose
What are your goals? What do you want to achieve in life? The first step in effective time management is keeping your eye on the prize. The clearer you are about what it is you want to achieve the easier it will be to ignore the distractions that don’t contribute to the accomplishment of your goals.
To implement this time management technique start by sitting down and giving a bit of deep thought about what drives you. What are you passionate about? What goals do you want to achieve?
Once you answer those questions, begin to break the resulting goal into smaller task. This is your roadmap to success and your first step in effective time management.
2. Don’t become complacent. Take action!
When you begin to take action on the goals you want to accomplish and the things you are passionate about it leaves little room for distraction.
Throw away the excuses. Stop waiting for the perfect time to get started. Don’t become complacent in your daily life, identify the things that drive you and go for it!
3. Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. Fight it!
Procrastination is an enemy we have all fought at one point or another in life. Often we lose that battle.
But don’t stop fighting yet. What you probably need to do is refine your methods of combating procrastination.
Here are a few tactics that have worked for many people:
- Using the Pomodoro Technique. This is when you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break. This helps you stay focused on the task at hand. This technique is invaluable to millions of people. You can read more about the Pomodoro Technique and how to implement it in your work life by clicking here. (http://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodoro-technique-1598992730)
- Not putting off boring task. If you get in the habit of putting things off you are essentially holding yourself back from achieving your goals. No matter how boring the task you have to motivate yourself to complete it as soon as possible.
- Tackling the hardest tasks on their to-do list first. Along with putting off boring task we often put off the most difficult task on our to-do list also. Don’t make this mistake, meet difficult task head on by getting started and staying focused.
Procrastination robs you of your time and energy. The next time you notice yourself making this mistake implement one of the procrastination busting strategies listed above.
4. Eliminate interruptions
Interruptions are one of the biggest obstacles to your productivity. In fact, researchers at the University of California, Irvine revealed that the average office worker is interrupted every three minutes and five seconds on average. The most shocking part… It can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to completely regain your focus and get back to where you started! (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/06/01/interruptions-at-work-can-cost-you-up-to-6-hours-a-day-heres-how-to-avoid-them/)
With that fact in mind, it’s clear that limiting interruptions as much as possible is a time management hack that will drastically increase your productivity.
So immediately eliminate all of the obvious distractions. Turn your phone to do not disturb mode, find a quiet place to work, and put a do not disturb sign on your door if needed.
5. Stop multitasking
Multitasking is one of the sneakiest killers of productivity… Why?
Because when we multitask we actually believe that we are getting more done, but that has been disproven by numerous studies.
Here are a few facts you should keep in mind about multitasking:
- When you multitask what you’re actually doing is making your brain rapidly switch from one task to another. Which has been shown to negatively impact your efficiency.
- When you rapidly switch from one task to the next you don’t allow yourself to “get in the zone” on either task which can drastically lower the quality of your work.
- Due to the fact that you don’t allow yourself to “get in the zone” when you try to complete two or more task at once it can take you 50% more time or longer to complete each task compared to if you focused on them individually. (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224943)
6. Set deadlines
When you don’t set deadlines, you open the door for procrastination. Don’t make this mistake, set tight deadlines, and stick to them.
7. Don’t check your email so often
Frequently checking email is a very sneaky productivity killer because it seems so innocent. But believe me when I tell you, checking and responding to email dozens of times per day quickly adds up.
As a rule of thumb only check email two or three times per day at scheduled times, and turn off your email notifications.
8. Empty your inbox
When you do check your emails delete what’s not important, respond to what is, then go back to handling more important task.
Your goal should be to get your email inbox count down to zero. This keeps you from feeling overloaded and burdened by this urgent but not important task.
It might take some time to get your email inbox down to zero, but it’s definitely worth it.
9. Stay focused on your priorities
Creating a to-do list is a great step in increasing your productivity and time management skills. It’s essentially your road map to daily success. But what’s a maps real value if you never use it?
Maintain your daily focus on accomplishing the task on your to-do list. The more things you check off of your list the closer you get to achieving your goals.
Start by completing the most important task first. Then begin working on the others.
10. Don’t make the mistake of confusing urgent with important
Urgent and important are two very different things. At some point or another people that are productive and effective at managing their time come to realize this.
Make sure your to-do list separates urgent task from important task. And always complete the most important tasks first.
11. Write things down
If you don’t write down your thoughts, you will likely forget them. We have all been there. So make sure you take notes of new ideas, notes about your business, and things you’ve learned.
I must add a bit of a warning though.
I know your phone has a note app installed on it and you probably use it frequently. However, I have to warn you against electing to use your digital notebook over standard pen and paper.
Because studies have shown that when you write notes with pen and paper, you are more likely to remember and retain the information due to the way your brain processes writing as compared to typing or texting. (http://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away)
If you want to increase your daily productivity, these 11 time management habits will help you accomplish that goal. Effective time management plays such a key role in our relationships, our jobs, and our businesses. The better you become at time management, the more rewards you will reap from all facets of your life.
Danny Donchev is community & marketing manager of TimeMyLife a revolutionary time-tracking tool. Danny writes about productivity and efficiency on the TimeMyLife’s blog. Hit him up on Twitter anytime.