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Useful Time Management Tools And Tips To Gain More Time

Useful Time Management Tools And Tips To Gain More Time

Have you ever had the feeling that time runs out so fast and you can’t finish everything on time? Or sometimes you have a super long to-do list and you have no idea where to start with?

You’re not alone.

Fortunately there are a lot of time management tools that can help. And we’ve also prepared some practical time management tips plus some common mistakes people make.

Time management tools

Toggl: Keep track of your time

    Forget about the traditional timesheet. Toggl is the best tool for you to keep track of your time spent on different tasks. It consists of a timer and a dashboard which gives you an overview of how much time you have spent for different tasks in the past week.

    Panda Focus Mode: Stay Focused On Your Tasks

      Panda Focus Mode is an extension for you to stay focused on your daily tasks. You can simply enter your tasks to be finished on the day and then whenever you open a new tab, you will immediately see them as a reminder.

      Hocus Focus: Hide your inactive windows automatically

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        If you always open many apps and they often distract you from your work, you should try Hocus Focus. It is a Mac menu bar utility that hides your inactive windows.

        Forest: To beat internet addiction

          Forest is an interesting app that helps you to beat Internet addiction. When you press the button to plant a tree, you can’t switch to another app unless you give it up. It helps you to make good use of 30-minutes to fully concentrate on your work and finish it effectively.

          Trello: Organize Your Tasks Well

            Trello is a productive app allows a team of people to monitor on the same task together. You can categorize different tasks according to their natures. Everything is just at a glance.

            TimeTree: A neat overview of your schedule

              TimeTree is a user-friendly app allows you to arrange your schedule with your friends and family. You can share events with them so that you can discuss and confirm plans together. Sorting your schedules by updates allows you to review any updates instantly.

              Wunderlist: Clear to-do list with reminders

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                Are you looking for an app which allows you to create a comprehensive to-do list? Wunderlist might be the answer. It allows you to create different to-do lists and you can even add hashtags on each item of the lists.

                Todoist: Distraction-free to do list

                  Todoist has a simple and distraction-free design for you to stay focused and motivated. By breaking big tasks into smaller sub-tasks with multi-level, you can organize and review tasks in a better way. You can also easily add due dates using normal language, such as “monday at 2pm”.

                  Noizio: Ambient background sounds

                    Perhaps sometimes the noise of surroundings is the reason why you find it difficult to focus on your work. Here’s the solution: creating an ambient background sounds to find your comfort. You can even mix the sounds on your own.

                    Best time management tricks

                    Apart from the tools, there are also a number of tips that can make us much more productive.

                    Spend The First 90 Minutes On The Most Important Task

                    As our brain are most active in the morning, we should spend the first 90 minutes of the day on the most important task so that we can finish it efficiently. Stop doing trivial matters like scrolling the to-do list or checking emails in the morning. You would miss the golden time of getting things done.

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                    Have A Timesheet To Keep Track Of What You Have Done

                    A timesheet is the simplest and perhaps the best tool to have a clear picture of what you have done in each time slot.

                    By dividing your day into different time slots and filling in what you have done, you can compare the reality and the expectation. Did you finish your task as expected? Or did you spend too much time on it? And why? You might also see how much you have improved on your efficiency day by day.

                    Create A Stop-doing List

                    Instead of a to-do list, which most people have, a world-class productive person should have a stop-doing list.

                    You might find yourself spending too much time on things that don’t really matter. That’s probably the key to manage your time in a better way and become more efficient. Stop scrolling social media at work and quit doing all those meaningless things. These might be the items you would write on your list.

                    Set Time Limit

                    Work expands itself if we allocate more time to a task. That’s what the Pakinson’s law about. In other words, as Cyril Northcote Parkinson writes, [1]

                    If you give yourself a week to complete a one day task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week.

                    So set time limit. If you can finish a task within an hour, then next time, try to finish it with 50 minutes. By allocating less time to a task, you would gradually figure out the actual time needed for you to finish it without wasting any time.

                    Identify Your Peak Hours And Schedule The Most Important Tasks For Those Hours

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                    Everyone has different working patterns. What’s important is to identify your own peak hours.

                    Our brain has limited attention span and it varies among people. So it’s important to organize your day around your body’s natural rhythms. Try to schedule your most important task for this period and work on minor tasks during your non-peak times. For example, arrange an appointment with a client during your peak hours and check emails during your non-peak times.

                    And Here Are The Don’ts:

                    Make Checking Email The First Thing To Do At Work

                    Checking email seems to be the vert first thing you have to do at work. But that’s not the case.

                    It is not the most important thing at work and it gives you an illusion that you’re achieving something. Think about it: what have you achieved actually after marking all emails read? Probably you have something more important to work on.

                    Multitask And Think That Would Make You More Efficient

                    Some people believe multitasking do work. But expert tells us that it brings harm to our brain: [2]

                    In fact, multitasking was found to increase the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which can overstimulate the brain and cause “mental fog”.

                    Put simply, the more information you have to handle, the less time you have to give it the thought it deserves. When you enter a “mental fog”, you start making poor decisions or responding irrationally. So don’t try to do research for an article and write it at the same time. This probably takes you a longer time.

                    Not Taking Breaks

                    Taking breaks is not a waste of time. In fact, it boosts our productivity.

                    As we know our brain has a limited attention span, there is no use in working for consecutively for a long period. After an hour or two, we begin to lose focus. That’s the time for you to take a little short break and give your brain some fresh air to recharge. Have a cup of tea or grab some snacks to eat. The valuable down-time enables you to think creatively and work effectively.

                    It is fair for everyone. Regardless of age, gender, occupation, and anything, everyone has 24 hours a day. But why some people can do that much within just a single day? The key is time management. With suitable tools and smart tricks, you can maximize your productivity and succeed in whatever your goal is.

                    Reference

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                    Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                    These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

                    58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

                    Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

                    “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                    So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

                    Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

                    1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

                    The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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                    Encourage Your Employees

                    When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

                    Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

                    Offer Rewards

                    Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

                    The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

                    Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

                    Give Autonomy

                    Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

                    Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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                    Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

                    2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

                    I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

                    Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

                    For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

                    We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

                    Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

                    A To Do Scheduling System

                    Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

                    The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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                    I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

                    With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

                    Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

                    3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

                    The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

                    “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

                    An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

                    What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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                    Ask If They like What They’re Doing

                    If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

                    There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

                    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

                    The Bottom Line

                    Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

                    Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

                    For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

                    Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

                    More Resources About Team Management

                    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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