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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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