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2 Simple Steps to Boost Productivity and Avoid Burning Daylight’

2 Simple Steps to Boost Productivity and Avoid Burning Daylight’

We all know what it feels like to slave away at work all day long and still have the feeling like we didn’t accomplish what we wanted.  Many hours spent, but feeling like there’s not much to show for it. Worse than that are those days and weeks where you feel like you are just constantly putting out fires and barely staying above water. Unfortunately, this describes a common day for many, where results are undermined and time and money is wasted.

I never took a time management class in school or learned key skills to help me manage my time better, and I am sure you didn’t either. Yet, without the right skills and proper tools, each day can feel like a constant struggle and it really doesn’t need to be this way.

The problem in fact, is not a lack of time, but rather a lack of skills and tools to manage time more effectively. Most people don’t even know how they spend their time; let alone, how to optimize it.  If you want to finally master your time, free up hours a week, and feel more in control of your results, it is easier than you think.

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Here are two simple and very effective steps you can take:

1. Face the hard truth (Seeing is believing)

Imagine what it would be like to have an extra half a day a week. Did you know that you can do this by making a small improvement of 10% in how you spend your time? That is an extra 6 minutes an hour which is an extra half a day per week!

The only way to create more time for yourself is to face up to the hard truth of how you’re currently spending it. The most effective way to do this is to track what you work on and see how your days fill up.

Spending a lot of time in an effort to optimize your time defeats the purpose. I’m a huge fan of using the time tracking tool Klok because I can quickly and easily see where I’ve spent my time. Klok takes the headache out of time management and instead makes it enjoyable.

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Using Klok’s simple work timer, capture the different tasks you work on as you go about your day and do this for at least a week. Include your coffee breaks, those office chats or social media distractions. Don’t leave anything out, otherwise at the end of the day, you’ll only be cheating yourself. You’ll begin to see your blind spots, your time thieves as well as opportunities to increase productivity and optimize your time.

I love this tool because the visual calendar and dashboard reports make it so easy to see the total time spent on different tasks and compare how I actually spent my time against how I intended to spend my time.

The next step is to put your thinking cap on and strategize the best ways to optimize your time now that you know where it is going.

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2. Strategize the best ways to avoid burning daylight

We all have 24 hours a day, what you decide to do with those 24 hours is going to be the difference between getting the results you want in the time you want or not.

Think about going to the gym, if you want to see results in a shorter time, you need to have an exercise regime that is designed specifically to get the results you want. You will never achieve the same results if you simply go the gym and just follow the motions without a clear program. The same is true for time management.

If you want more time, money, better results and higher productivity, start optimizing your time more.  Now that you know where your time is being spent, you can start to make decisions on how to better optimize your time and become more productive.

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To get you thinking more strategically, ask yourself the following key questions.

  • Where does most of your time go?
  • How productive are you overall?
  • Are you spending more time on certain tasks than you should?
  • What is one small change you can make to your time that will make the biggest difference for you right now?

Klok’s dashboard reports and visual calendar display provide information in a graphical format which make it easier to answer these questions and identify opportunities to optimize your time better. You can also gain valuable insights by comparing estimates against actual time spent and use the information to improve overall time management which will result in more free time for you.

Tracking, analyzing and strategically optimizing how you spend your time is an on-going exercise, but one which will undoubtedly add hours to your weeks, add days to your months and over time, add months to your years.

Nobody else is going to create the results you want in life, you decide every day by how you spend your time.

“You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.” – Ashley Ormon

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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