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7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity

7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity
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Have you ever had one of those days when you find yourself getting up from your desk, answering phone calls from family members, and clicking through web pages only to realize it’s noon and you still haven’t accomplished anything? We’ve all been there. But when this becomes a daily occurrence, it’s time to take action. Use the following tips to maximize productivity, whether at work, school or home.

1. List “Time-Wasters”

Start your day with a list of things you know you tend to waste time on. Keep the list nearby. When you notice you’re wasting time, add that time-waster to the list. This will serve as a reminder of things you shouldn’t allow yourself to do–like watching cat videos when you should be sending emails.

2. Hide Or Uninstall Social Media Apps

Among those who use social media, the average person spends 3.6 hours per day socializing online, reveals research conducted by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange. That’s about a quarter of the time you’re awake! Imagine what you could do with those extra hours.

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To keep yourself from wasting this time, remove social networking apps from your mobile device’s home screen and the toolbar on your computer’s browser. While the sites won’t be completely out of reach, this practice can keep you from checking updates on impulse (when let’s face it, there’s nothing new there anyway).

3. Set Daily Goals With Reminders

Every day comes with new tasks to accomplish. Make it easy for yourself to complete each task by taking life one day at a time. Do you have a huge report due next month? Consider what you’ll do each day to finish it instead of waiting until the last minute. Use apps like Google Calendar to stay on top of your daily goals. You can set up reminders to stay organized and make sure you don’t forget anything.

4. Complete Most Important Tasks First

It’s easy to start your day with the simplest tasks. It makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something even when you’re avoiding your big project. But by the time you’re done with your less important tasks, you’re already worn out and even more reluctant to start on your priority work.

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Switch things up and perform the most important tasks first. It will be a relief once you’re done, and the rest of your day will run more smoothly.

5. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking is a myth! As NPR reports, humans can’t physically multitask. Our brains instead juggle attention from one task to the other so quick we’re given the illusion we’re multitasking.

But we’re not very efficient at it. If you try to do too many things at once, you probably won’t finish those tasks to a high standard. Plus, it could take you more time than if you simply focused on one task at a time, meaning you only hinder your productivity by multitasking.

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6. Make Use Of Dead Time

What do you do when you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or headed home on the train? If you’re staring out the window, you’re wasting valuable time. Instead, you could be sending emails or brainstorming and taking notes on your next project at work or school. You could even use this dead time to work in your daily stress-relieving breathing exercises as long as you’re doing something productive.

7. Read Time-Management Books (And Take The Advice!)

To get the best advice on how to manage your time, consider reading time-management books. They’ll likely be more useful to you since they’re more in-depth. You’ll often find exercises to help you apply the concepts, too.

Try books like “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” “The Skinny on Time Management: How to Maximize Your 24-Hour Gift,” or “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.”

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Ready to become more productive? Start with the mentioned tips, and then share these ideas with your friends by tweeting this post.

Featured photo credit: time notice and a calender via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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