Advertising
Advertising

Published on December 10, 2020

10 Powerful Tips To Manage Time And Get Result

10 Powerful Tips To Manage Time And Get Result

Twenty-four hours. You have the same hours in a day as you always have. But when life is more chaotic and stressful than it’s ever been, it might not always feel like it. Time—and along with it, the ability to be productive and effective at your job—is at a premium, now more than ever.

Since you can’t add more hours to your day, that means it’s important to find ways to make the most of your limited capacity.

Wish you had more than 24 hours? Here are 10 powerful tips to manage time and get results at work.

1. Define Your Mission

The first tip to manage time is to first define your mission. Before you learn to manage your time effectively, you need to set goals. And before you can set goals that make sense, you need a big-picture understanding of your mission—to nail down the “why” that motivates your “what.”

Begin by defining a personal mission statement that lays out not only what you want to do but why you want to do it. For example, let’s say you want to start selling tacos. That’s a great (and delicious) goal. But what’s your mission? To make people happy? To bring them together? To celebrate your heritage?

Defining your mission keeps you on track to create smarter goals, which in turn will help you be more productive. If it doesn’t serve your mission, it’s not worth your time.

2. Practice Saying “No”

When I first started in my career, I never wanted to miss an opportunity—to network, to take on a project, to learn something new. That “fear of missing out” mindset can be helpful when you’re getting the hang of a new industry, but it won’t serve you when it comes to time management.

The more you take on—even in the name of growth and development—the less time you’ll have to accomplish what really matters. Another way to say it: When you say “yes” to one thing, you’re always saying “no” to something else.

Advertising

If your goal is to better manage your time, start viewing it as a limited resource and spend it wisely—and not on people or projects that don’t serve your overall mission and goals. It’s hard to say “no” at first, but if you filter your decisions through your overall mission, you’re also protecting your time.

3. Pinpoint How You Currently Use Your Time

How productive do you feel you are? What’s the quality of the work you’re producing? Those are vague questions until you quantify them with actual data. To identify what needs to change in your routine (and, ultimately, how to become more effective), you first need a clear picture of where your time is going now.

Start by planning a week-long period to “audit” your time down to the hour, using a notebook or a spreadsheet.[1]

For example, you may find you’re spending a lot more time on social media than you thought or that you’re wasting too many minutes a day mulling over what to write in an email. Once you measure how well things are going against how you currently make use of your time, you can make the necessary adjustments.

4. Ration Your Energy

Another important tip to manage your time is to ration your energy. There’s a common myth in hustle culture that the most effective workers are up at the crack of dawn, already in a deep flow by sunrise. But for every startup CEO who gets up at 4 am to work, there’s one who’s still sound asleep (and who actually needs the shuteye to do their job well).

The key to time management isn’t to sacrifice your sleep in the name of productivity. It’s to identify the times of day (or evening!) where you have the most motivation to get things done, and then plan your work accordingly. So, think through when you’re most energetic, of course—but keep in mind that getting results doesn’t just require energy. When are you the most creative and inspired? When are you the most focused?

For example, if you’re most alert in the late morning hours right after your breakfast and coffee, schedule your most important, demanding work for that window. On the flip side, when do you feel the most drained? Save mindless, admin tasks for that period. You’ll not only make better use of your time, but you’ll also produce better work.

5. Plan Ahead

Fail to plan, and plan to fail. That principle is why I use every Sunday afternoon to plan my workweek. I grab my favorite notebook and pen, set up at my dining room table or in my home office, and write down everything I need to finish in a given week. Then, I break each goal down into specific, time-oriented tasks.

Advertising

Macro-level planning keeps me keep my goals at the forefront so I can stay on task with a greater purpose in mind. Micro-level planning for specific tasks is also important because it prevents you from wasting time on the projects and tasks that serve your goal.

Before you head into a meeting, for instance, write up a list of talking points and goals you want to accomplish. The direction will help you stay focused on the bigger picture and save you the minutes or hours you need to get things done.

6. Minimize Distractions

Distractions get in the way of productivity and time management. But the answer isn’t just to set up your laptop in a quiet place. It’s about eliminating distractions of the mind—the “work” that takes up mental space but doesn’t actually contribute to your overall productivity. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, calls these attention-suckers “half work.”

For example, let’s say you’re working on a presentation, but you stop every few minutes to check your inbox. Reading and answering emails is part of your job, so it feels like work.

But according to Clear, it’s also a major drain on your time:[2]

“Regardless of where and how you fall into the trap of half-work, the result is always the same: you’re never fully engaged in the task at hand, you rarely commit to a task for extended periods of time, and it takes you twice as long to accomplish half as much.”

Next time your time is at a premium, focus on focusing. Eliminate the tiny distractions that punctuate your state of flow and keep your mind fully present on what actually needs your attention.

7. Avoid Multitasking

Whether you’re responding to an email while you’re on a call or you’re switching back and forth between projects, you might feel like you’re making the most of your time when you’re juggling multiple tasks at once. But if you’re anything like me, the more mental “tabs” you have open, the less you’re actually able to focus on each one.

Advertising

Why is multitasking the enemy of time management? According to experts, toggling between several tasks at once expends energy on the act of switching gears rather than the actual tasks at hand. Worse, when you’re stretched thin between duties, you’re not focused—which means you’ll never get into a state of “flow” that’s essential for productivity.

Moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity.[3]

8. Consider “Future You”

Our decisions today affect how tomorrow plays out, and that includes time management. How you spend your minutes and hours has a long-term impact because it also drains the time that’s available to you in the future—to get other things done and, just as importantly, to take breaks and rest.

So, if you’re struggling with managing your time, shift your focus ahead to your future self.[4] Thinking about how what you’re doing right now will help or hinder you in the future will tighten your focus and broaden your awareness of how your decisions affect you down the road. The future you would probably want the present you to learn about tips to manage time.

9. Don’t Confuse Urgency and Importance

There are a lot of important things to get done each day. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those things are urgent or time-sensitive. Conflating the two is a quick way to drain your time and miss deadlines.

Here’s a primer: Urgent items on your to-do list need immediate attention and action, while merely important tasks have more significant consequences, but might not need immediate completion.

To make the best use of your time, always focus on tasks that are both urgent and important. Once those are checked off the list, move your focus to urgent tasks, then the important but non-urgent ones.

9. Take Breaks

It might seem counterproductive to stop working when the end goal is to get things done. But for optimal productivity, your brain needs the occasional pause.

Advertising

While some studies suggest a formula for a work/break rhythm—such as working for 52 minutes, then breaking for 17—there’s no black-and-white rule for effective break-taking.[5]

Since everyone’s mental capacity varies, your optimal period for a break will vary, too. The idea is that we all lose mental steam after a period of using our brains at a higher capacity. Breaks help set the “reset” button.

Ideally, plan your breaks ahead of time and use them to do something totally unrelated to work. Go for a walk. Run up and down the stairs. Call a friend or loved one.

You’ll not only return with a fresh perspective on the task at hand but also with the feeling that you have more time in your day than when you started.

Final Thoughts

Time management is an essential life skill, but not everyone is good at it. Managing your time is difficult, but you’re not alone. So, start with these 10 powerful tips to manage time that will help you get the results you want.

More Tips to Manage Time

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

8 Surefire Problem-Solving Strategies That Always Work 9 Weekend Activities To Set You Up For Productivity the New Week How To Create A Daily Schedule To Organize Your Day How to Increase Attention Span If You Have a Distracted Mind 7 Science-Backed Ways To Stay Sharp, Alert And Focused

Trending in Focus

1 10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind 2 How To Give An Undivided Attention To Be More Productive 3 10 Simple Hacks To Get Rid Of Absent-Mindedness 4 How to Stop Being Absent Minded and Start to Be More Attentive 5 What Is A Flow State And How To Achieve It For Productivity

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on April 8, 2021

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

1. Find Your Totem

Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

Advertising

You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

2. Promise a Reward

Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

For example:

  • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
  • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
  • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

Advertising

It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

There are two basic ways to go about it:

  1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
  2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

6. Recite a Focus Mantra

I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

Advertising

I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

Some examples:

  • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
  • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
  • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

8. Find an Easy Win

Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

Advertising

9. Create a “Wins” List

Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

10. Add Stakes to the Mix

If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

Who Else Wants More Success?

Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

More Tips on Sharpening Your Focus

Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

Read Next