Each one of us has the same number of hours, each day – 24 hours! Regardless, few of us manage to begin and end the day with a wonderful feeling of satisfaction. They are ultra-productive and deliver optimal results.
Many might think that it is humanly impossible? Some might as well question the whole concept of staying productive using certain methods and techniques.
Whatever the case, one thing that stands out quite glaringly among highly productive people is that they learn to be efficient and smart with their time management. It is the only way to enhance productivity and put us more in control of day-to-day situations at the workplace.
Outlined below, are a few time-management techniques that should assist you in maximizing your productivity, not only at the workplace but also, at home and elsewhere.
Let’s Begin with a Time Audit
Many of us have the habit of recording day-to-day monetary transactions. The idea is to go over everything at the end of the month and find out if there has been overspending. In turn, this will help in spending less and saving more, in the subsequent month. In short, we conduct a regular money audit. Well, the same may be done for ‘TIME’ too.
First, think about all the things that you spend time on. Commuting time, office tasks, meetings, extended breaks, unplanned activities, leisure time, etc. This is necessary, as this will help you identify the pitfalls. You might be spending excess time on things that are not adding any value.
This exercise will help you evaluate how you are spending each day. It will help you answer certain questions, too. For instance, how much time are you using fruitfully? How much time are you wasting? Is the activity adding any value to you? Can I eliminate certain activities? etc
Now that you are done with your time audit, let us move on to other techniques.
Have a To-Do List in Place
We all have heard about the significance of planning and we plan the ‘next day’ in advance, the previous evening/night, it can considerably shift our overall productivity. If the list is done right, it will not just be a reminder of all the jobs that need to be done but also it will eliminate the temptation to procrastinate.
Here are a few things to consider when making your to-do list.
1) Let your to-do list be in alignment with the long-term and short-term goals/objectives of the organization.
2) Let the list be written in the SMART method. The term stands for – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
3) Identify and bucket the activities based on must do, should do, and nice to do activities. This will help you prioritize effectively.
Use the Eisenhower Matrix Tool
To remain productive it is also important to prioritize your tasks in the order of importance. Towards this end, it might be worthwhile to take recourse to the Eisenhower Matrix, with its four quadrants. There are also four Ds of execution.
Quadrant 1 focuses on jobs that are very important and need urgent attention. You must DO them first.
Quadrant 2 concentrates on tasks that are important but do not require urgent attention. Therefore, you may DEFER them for a later time in your busy schedule.
Quadrant 3 knows that these jobs are urgent. However, it is not important to tackle them as quickly as possible. Therefore, you need not undertake to complete them, yourself. Instead, you may DELEGATE these jobs to others, who are competent enough to tackle them. These tasks may not have much to contribute toward the organization’s long-term objectives.
Quadrant 4 refers to tasks that are neither important nor urgent. Therefore, they may be DELETED, if found completely unnecessary. Alternatively, you may leave them for another time, when you are free. Such tasks are taking your mind away from prioritized tasks. They are unwanted distractions.
Thus, your to-do list for the day, or even the week, may categorize tasks under the four quadrants. It will help you to experience personal, as well as, professional growth.
A Fresh and Alert Mind is Essential
In general, we tend to begin with simple tasks in the morning. What we forget is that it is the time when the mind is at its freshest. Therefore, it would be wise to handle the most intensive or complex tasks during the morning hours. As the day wears on, and you begin to experience tiredness, you might be eager to take up the simpler jobs.
Then again, it would be advisable not to multitask. True, many of us are proficient at it and feel that it will help to get things done all that much faster. The truth is that focusing on one job at a time, will ensure that it reaches healthy and intelligent completion. It is quite possible that multitasking may interfere with cognitive abilities, too. Instead, moving from one task to another ensures good progress and the development of self-confidence.
Do Not Be Afraid to Say NO
Yes, people tend to swamp you with more tasks, as they discover how diligent, efficacious, and punctual you are with your work. However, you have deadlines to meet, and cannot afford to take on too much. Therefore, you must learn to offer a firm NO, whenever it is necessary.
You must not perceive “Saying NO” as a sign of arrogance. Saying No helps you draw boundaries that otherwise can drift you off from your productive hours.
Silence Your Distractions
Internal or external distractions both can hinder your productivity.
Our internal dialogues which are usually all about doubts, fears, etc can hijack your day’s productive hours. External triggers like cell phones are the biggest distraction in the modern world.
Whatever the kind of distraction that you are facing, you might want to keep a track of how you can minimize them.
- Scheduling your Smartphone hours, and turning off the wifi and data are a few simple hacks that can help
- Meditating to handle your anxiety and internal dialogue is another thing that can help
These are some simple yet powerful tips and techniques that you can apply in your daily life to see yourself progressing towards productive outcomes.