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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 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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