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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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                    Sheba Leung

                    Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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                    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

                    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

                    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

                    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

                    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

                    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

                    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

                    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

                    In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

                    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

                    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

                    The Biology

                    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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                    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

                    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

                    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

                    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

                    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

                    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

                    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

                    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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                    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

                    The Psychology

                    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

                    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

                    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

                    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

                    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

                    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

                    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

                    1. Identify Your Habits

                    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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                    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

                    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

                    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

                    3. Apply Logic

                    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

                    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

                    4. Choose an Alternative

                    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

                    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

                    5. Remove Triggers

                    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

                    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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                    6. Visualize Change

                    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

                    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

                    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

                    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

                    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

                    Final Thoughts

                    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

                    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

                    More About Changing Habits

                    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

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