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Published on December 30, 2019

10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness

10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness

Do you find that your days are constantly filled with piles of tasks that seemingly have no end? Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive at work. In some instances, it can even suggest a lack of time management skills.

Here are 10 smart time management techniques to help you overcome busyness.

1. Track Your Time

Monitoring the time you spend on tasks can give you an overview of areas that need improving. It allows you to learn from experience and is a simple and straightforward time management technique.

By simply setting a timer when you begin a new task, and then switching it off once you’re done, you can gain insight into how long you spend on a certain task. This enables you to compare your expectations to reality, and make improvements based on your findings.

2. Eat the Frog

Eating the frog is a term put forward by Brian Tracy, which refers to completing your biggest task first. It derives from a Mark Twain quote where he said,

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

There’s no greater feeling than accomplishing a big task and getting it out of the way.

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The concept suggests that if you complete your biggest task first, the feeling of accomplishment will be so great that completing the rest of your tasks in comparison will seem like a piece of cake.

3. Apply the 80 20 Rule

Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80 20 rule suggests that 80 percent of effective results comes from 20 percent of your tasks. This basically means that for every 10 tasks you have, only two would produce quality results, so of course, they’re the ones you want to focus on.

Write down a list of 10 tasks you have to do in prioritized order. Look at the first two things on the list and put your focus into them throughout the day. Even if you don’t complete your list by the end of the day, at least you’d complete the most important ones.

4. Block Your Time

Scheduling time blocks is a time management technique that can help you get rid of distractions. The idea is that you block out chunks of time throughout the day for a specific task, and during that time, you concentrate on that task only.

An obvious way to do it is based on your deadlines. If you have an urgent task to hand in the afternoon, then it makes sense to block a couple of hours in the morning to work on it.

However, another way to effectively block your time is to schedule tasks according to when you’re most productive. For example, if you find that you’re less productive right after your lunch break, then schedule routine tasks that don’t require too much creative thinking, such as checking your emails.

5. Use the 2-Minute Rule

A huge barrier to effective time management is procrastination, and applying the 2-minute rule can help overcome it. Most menial tasks are usually things you’re already capable of doing, it’s just getting started that’s the hard part.

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The first part of the rule, which stems from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done®, states that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, then just do it. Finish it and complete it then and there.

The second part of the rule advises that if you’ve started a new habit, then make sure it takes you less than two minutes to complete, because it follows the idea that every goal can get started in two minutes or less.

6. Avoid Multitasking

While it may seem like you’re doing more in less time, multitasking can actually have the opposite effect. Known to actually lower your productivity, it can diminish your focus and take you longer to complete your tasks.

To help fight the urge of multitasking, get rid of anything that has the potential to divert your attention away from the task at hand. For example, only keep one tab open when working on a computer or make your browser bigger so you don’t see anything else.

7. Say “No” More Often

Learning to say no may not seem like one of the most obvious time management techniques, but once you start doing it, you’ll realize how much time you’ve saved for tackling your tasks.

Saying no to things doesn’t mean saying no to everything. Instead, it encourages you to re-think and re-prioritize the things that matter. Once you know which tasks are important, you’ll find that you’ll no longer waste your time sitting in meetings that you don’t need to be in or doing a task that isn’t really relevant to your job.

Learn how to say no from Leo Babauta The Gentle Art of Saying No.

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8. Establish a Morning Routine

Daily routines have the power to help you recover wasted time and revitalize you. As it provides structure to your day, they can also make you more productive and set the momentum for the rest of the day.

An effective morning routine doesn’t mean you have to run 20 miles before the sun comes up and drink a glass of raw eggs. All you have to do is plan a few tasks that can help you feel re-energized in the morning and repeat it until it becomes a habit.

Some examples of tasks you can include are making your bed, stretching for five minutes, or drinking a glass of lemon water: Need Morning Motivation? 30 Routines to Help You Start Afresh

9. Create a Nighttime Routine Too

Just like a morning routine, a nighttime routine can provide structure for your day.

Winding down during the last couple of hours before bedtime can also give you a better night’s sleep, which is always useful for time management.

Once again, you don’t have to do anything drastic, but think about tasks that could help you the next day. Your nighttime routine could include packing your gym bag or getting your breakfast and lunch ready.

Take a look at this for inspiration: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

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10. Take Breaks

Although it may seem like a counter-productive time management technique, taking regular breaks at work is important for your mental health and maintaining efficiency.

It’s important to take your breaks because working straight through them can make you more susceptible to decision fatigue and a decrease in creativity. Your body and mind require rest and sustenance, so take advantage of your breaks at work and go out and grab a healthy lunch or stretch your legs. You will get back to your desk feeling refreshed and more motivated to keep working.

In this case, the Pomodoro Technique maybe good for you: Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer

The Bottom Line

Busyness isn’t the equivalent to being productive at work. If anything, it could be a sign of bad time management skills. But trying out these time management techniques is just the first step.

If you find that you’ve yet to see effective results, then you have a talk to your manager. Your busyness could be down to simply having too much on your plate and the need for a restructure.

Remember, being honest about your workload is better than constantly stressing and risking a burn out.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Artur Łuczka via unsplash.com

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Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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