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10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness

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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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More by this author

Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

5 Techniques to Tackle a Busy Schedule (And Create More Time) Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates) 10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness

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Last Updated on September 9, 2021

10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

1. The One Thing Planner

The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

Get the planner here!

2. The Full Life Planner

The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

Get the planner here!

3. The Freedom Journal

Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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From their site:

“The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

Get the planner here!

4. Full Focus Planner

Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

From the site:

“Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

Get the planner here!

5. Passion Planner

They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

From the site:

“An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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Get the planner here!

6. Desire Map Planners

If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

Get the planner here!

7. Franklin Covey Planners

The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

From the site:

“Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

Get the planner here!

8. Productivity Planner

From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

From the site:

“Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

Get the planner here!

9. Self Journal

Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

Get the planner here!

10. Google Calendar

You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

Get the planner here!

Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

Block #1: Desire

Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

Block #2: Strategy

Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

“What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

Block #3: Focus

With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

Block #4: Rhythm

The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

The Bottom Line

Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

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Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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