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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

What Is Time Management and How To Manage Your Time Wisely

What Is Time Management and How To Manage Your Time Wisely

Time is money, isn’t it?

If you learn to manage your time efficiently, you can conquer any task in the world. From inner peace to productivity to work efficiency, time management is the one skill that can help you achieve them all.

So what does all of this mean and how can you achieve it?

Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What is Time Management?

The term ‘time management’ is pretty self-explanatory:

It means managing your time.

At the end of the day, all you got are 24 hours.

Of these, at least 6 to 9 hours are spent sleeping, as recommended by experts.[1] A couple of hours are used to prep and eat meals. Add in 3 to 4 hours of commute, being stuck in traffic, and other minor unexpected challenges.

So, all you are left with is 10 to 12 hours or sometimes even less.

Within this time, you need to complete your work tasks, study, manage a hobby, take care of yourself, socialize, and spend time with your family. Events and special occasions are a whole other story.

How does one cope with so much in such little time?

The art of doing this without losing your mind is exactly what time management is.

Why Does Time Management Matter?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, you cannot choose to skip time management.

Living in a social world also means having some responsibilities. Without fulfilling these, you cannot survive.

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You have to work to earn money. You need money to be able to eat. If you do not eat, you will starve to death. If you completely isolate yourself, your mental health will suffer. You have to have some source of entertainment to keep your mind fresh.

This is why time management matters. You have to learn to cope with time restraint for your own good.

Without time management, you will only stress yourself out. You will have to sacrifice a meaningful life, which results in everything going downhill, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Therefore, you are the one who needs to manage time like a pro.

Find out more about why time management matters: When Does Time Management Matter Most?

Time Management Techniques

No matter how elaborate your to-do list is or how minimal your time is, if you follow the right techniques, there is always enough room to fulfill your tasks in one day.

1. Delegation

Delegation is a remarkable technique to manage huge projects at work. It is specifically suited for work-related tasks. This technique requires the distribution of minor tasks among a group of people to achieve bigger goals in the end.

If you aim to create a digital marketing campaign, you can break the task down into several components. Assign individual, small tasks to different employees so that everyone can work simultaneously to produce a great campaign in minimal time.

If one person were to work on an entire project, it will take weeks to develop. However, with the delegation, this project can be done within hours.

Learn more about how to delegate effectively: What Is Delegation and How Does It Enhance Team Management?

2. Prioritizing

Sometimes, when you have a lot to do and little time to do it, you may dive right into the workload without thinking about it first.

Never do this.

First, go through your list of tasks for the day and prioritize. This way, even if you run out of time by the end of the day, you will not be missing out on anything super important.

The best way to use this technique is by learning how to prioritize, especially when everything seems to be equally important and you do not have hours to ponder on the list.

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Take a look at how to prioritize right: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

3. Block Scheduling

What is a better way to manage time than creating a schedule? And not just any schedule, but a block schedule.

So what you do it divide your time into blocks of hours or minutes however you want.

Then you assign one task to each block.

The main aim is to tackle fewer tasks per day but get done with them within the assigned time-frame. This is a method to keep the brain focused.

If you do a little bit of everything every day, your brain will be all over the place. Therefore, block scheduling technique recommends getting on with one thing, finishing, and then moving onto the next.

Learn more about block scheduling: How to Boost Your Productivity with Block Scheduling

4. Stay Focused

Truth be told, if you could keep yourself focused, you can finish any task faster.

A major part of time management is utilizing every single second productively. You can do this best if your mind is focused on the task at hand and without any distractions.

There are little things you can incorporate in your routine to improve your focus, such as choosing a structured environment to work on. Here’s how: How to Stay Focused and Not Get Distracted

5. Overcome Procrastination

Having 10 hours to do 10 things might sound impossible.

But the truth is that you can very easily squeeze in all the necessary tasks within this time-frame if you stop wasting your time.

Believe it or not, procrastination is the biggest enemy of time management.

You probably already knew that. But what you may not know is how to overcome this bad habit.

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Well, you will have to start by identifying when you are procrastinating. You can follow guides available online to stop procrastinating and improve your productivity.

However, one thing you must keep in mind is that it takes a conscious effort to eradicate procrastination from your routine. You will have to figure out when you are doing it and then forcefully stop yourself from putting off important things.

Here you can learn some tips on overcoming procrastination: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

6. Learn to Say No

Just because you are learning to tackle more in less time does not mean you should over-burden yourself.

Once again, prioritize what you are assigned with. If something is out of your job description, not your passion, or not manageable for you, simply say no.

It may come out as rude, and you may feel a pang of guilt. But, you can always learn to say no in a polite way to tackle both these issues without causing any extra stress to yourself.

Find it difficult to say no? This article can help: How to Say No When You Feel You Can Only Say Yes

7. Use the Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro method is a technique of working in short intervals.[2]

Basically, you set a 25-minute timer and focus on the single task at hand without any distractions.

After one Pomodoro, or 25-minute interval, is over, you take a break of no longer than 5 minutes.

The 5-minute break is enough to recharge your productivity but not long enough to break your work tempo. It gives your mind the satisfaction of taking a break without letting your brain lose its trail of focus.

Moreover, after 4 Pomodoros, you can treat yourself to a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. You can indulge in a small activity, eat a snack or simply relax. This is an excellent way to keep you from getting bored with tasks that you have been working on for a long time already.

By setting a timer, you are giving your brain a direction. Your mind knows that it has to focus on one thing for a set amount of time.

You can also view the 5-minute break as a treat for your mind looks forward to. Hence, you boost your overall focus and productivity.

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Find out Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer.

Useful Tools and Resources to Master Time Management

Sometimes, just knowing is not enough.

Constant reminders, a budge here and there, and a support system are necessary to keep you pushing on the right track.

This is where time management tools come to the rescue.

Your brain may agree with everything you have read so far. But constant repetition is needed to imprint this on your mind to make it a habit. This is why time management guides and books are lifesavers.

Here is a long list of relevant time management books that can help you out in this regard: 10 Best Time Management Books for Maximized Productivity 

Each one has a different approach and suits different individuals’ reading and learning styles. Choose whichever one you like best, and take advantage of an expert’s opinion.

Now, even when your mind has all the knowledge, you still might not be able to manage time well enough. This is why you need the help of applications.

Certain applications serve the purpose of accountability while others keep your to-do list organized to save you the stress.

Some apps, like Focus Booster, focus on the Pomodoro Technique. So, if you find that to be useful, an app like this one will help you save a lot of time.

Similarly, some tools will allow you to record how much time you are wasting and where you spend the rest of your time. Once you have this information in front of you, you can then prioritize and shift your routine to accommodate more productivity.

Summary

If you want an organized, stress-free life without compromising your relationships, work-life or mental health, you should start applying these recommended time management techniques in your work and personal life.

Download applications that will boost your productivity, and read books that encourage you towards a better life.

Conclusively, you are the one in control of how your life goes by.

Luckily, it is pretty easy to follow along with these tips, and anyone can avail of their benefits.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Simon Daoudi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] HelpGuide: Sleep Needs
[2] Francesco Cirillo: The Pomodoro Technique

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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