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8 Time Management Secrets Only Successful People Master

8 Time Management Secrets Only Successful People Master

You work hard to provide for yourself and your family and please your boss. Is there any way you could be working harder? I have no idea, but I am sure there are many ways to work smarter. Successful people don’t necessarily work harder than you, but they do work smarter. Here are some of the techniques they’ve mastered.

1. Don’t just look busy

When the company manager walks down the hallway, everyone is on a call, in a meeting, or running errands. They look busy, but are they really busy? If you ask successful people, they will say “No.” All the above are strong signs of “mindless productivity.” This might get you lots of appreciation from your co-workers, but it definitely won’t get you a promotion — at least, not the promotion. To put it differently, working hard means you are on the track towards success, running 100 miles per hour… though not necessarily in the right direction.

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2. Work smarter, not harder

The key to becoming a successful person is working smart, not hard. Quit the “robot” state and find new ways to approach each task and each project. Employ strong time management rules and software, such as TimeDoctor, and stick to cutting down the time needed to do each task. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you need to find new ways to use it and look at it from a completely different perspective. In time, you will be thankful for your new routine.

3. Prioritize all your tasks

Prioritization is the key for successful people – they don’t just solve all the tasks they have, they solve the most important first! Take example and find the most important tasks of the day right after you reach the office and solve them. When the most important tasks are done, you can say your day was successful, even if you don’t get to solve all the other tasks of the day. Don’t let the details drag you down, don’t procrastinate! Perfectionists often get lost in details, as they try to make everything perfect – this is a mistake, as unpleasant as it might sound. Focus on getting the large projects done, then take a second look at them, tweaking bits and pieces.

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4. Gamify your work

Work gamification is a new concept, but it’s already emerging as one of the best ways to raise your engagement and change the way you work. As the name implies, gamification is the process of turning work into play, without skipping the actual work. Gamification increases your wellbeing and allows you to objectify your achievements. Just like a game, when you plan each task you can divide the work into small batches of 15-20 minutes. Then, award yourself with a treat when each task is finished. That treat can be anything you want, from a smoothie to a small walk in the park or checking your social media account. One of the benefits of gamification is you will learn how much can be done in a short time, like 15 minutes. Another benefit is the fact you are able to take some time to appreciate what you’ve just made, which is a great way to stay motivated and focused.

5. Group related tasks

The human brain is built to think of at one task at a time. When you have to do several different tasks, you need to use several parts of your brain, employing different types of thinking. If you group related tasks, your brain won’t be forced to switch from one type of thinking, such as analytic, to another, like creative, over and over again. Doing several tasks which require the same type of thinking consecutively boosts your productivity and speeds up your work. Grouping tasks is a great time management secret, as it can enhance and revolutionize the way you work. For example, if you are a writer and you have to document an ebook, document a report, then rewrite two articles and write an editorial, you’ll want to group the documentation work and the writing work. This way, you will be able to get them done quicker and easier.

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6. Organize, organize, organize some more

One of the best time management hacks is organization – being organized is crucial for cutting down on the “dead” time in your workflow. Come up with a system and implement it as soon as possible. You will notice the huge difference which comes from knowing where the last week’s sale reports are and not having to spend 30 minutes looking for them.

7. Learn to refuse projects

From time to time, you need to say “No.” Overworking yourself is not the way towards success, but the way towards fatigue and exhaustion. Successful people master the ability to refuse certain tasks in order to concentrate on more important ones. Be picky and only pick tasks which mean something for you and can really give you a boost. Dedicate all your time to these projects, erasing procrastination and distractions, establishing a personal deadline for the task at hand. For example, promise yourself to complete an article in one hour. When you finish the article on time or even before your self-imposed deadline, you will feel an amazing amount of self-accomplishment. This emotion can be overwhelming and highly motivational.

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8. Know when to call it a day

After all that time management, you will notice there is still a pile of work on your desk. This is the moment when you need to use the most important secret of successful people: quit it and go home. Yes, that’s right — after all the strategies to cut down the “dead” time, eliminate the excess tasks, and focus on getting the project done, you have to know when to call it a day and go home. As I’ve said, as long as you prioritize tasks and solve the most important ones, you are ready to go home. Don’t make the mistake of trying to solve everything. Instead, end your day when you are tired and you feel you’ve made a difference for someone. There will always be more work to do, but you have to live your life as well. Calling it a day is part of smart working — the most important secret of smart working, even, because it allows you to disconnect from work and enjoy life. This is exactly what makes you successful!

Featured photo credit: Flickr/Ben Smith via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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