Managing my time effectively has always been one of my biggest downfalls. When I’m working I have a habit of not taking regular breaks away from my desk, which in turn causes me to get distracted after a while because something inside me wants a change of scenery for a few minutes… Checking email, checking the weather & news headlines etc, seeing what bargains are on my favourite shopping sites, all that kind of nonsense! Well, I’ve decided to put an end to that by practicing a few simple time management techniques. These techniques I’ve garnered from around the web from the likes of Tim Ferriss, Leo Babauta and Penelope Trunk to name but a few.
There are many methods of managing time but few I’ve found are that effective. For me it boils down to 3 or 4 key activities that help me maintain focus an keep as productive as possible throughout my working day.
- The To Do List
Historically my “To Do” lists have been massive. In the past I’d sit down and write huge list of as many jobs and tasks as I could think of, then pick one of the most important tasks and get stuck in. The problem with this method is that a huge list, although it may not appear so at the time, is very daunting and quite demoralizing. By creating a seemingly endless To Do list creates a feeling of being overloaded without you even realizing.
Instead, create a simple To Do List for each day of your work life & home life, and include on the list the Three most important things that you need to do that day. The list must contain only ever contain 3 entries. Only when items on the list are completed can you move on to the next list.Why do a three item list? A three item to do list is ultimately a managable list. Once you’ve completed the tasks for today, create a new list and get stuck in on tomorrows task. That way you’ll feel like you’re getting ahead on tomorrows work list too!
- Take Regular Breaks
Taking a break from what you’re doing is essential to retain focus on the job in hand. If I sit chained to my desk for hours on end, I ultimately get distracted after about and 1.5 hours and go off to check my email, check website stats etc. Instead, get yourself a kitchen timer, and set it to 1 hour or so. Work as intensely as you can during that time period. At the end of the period, take a 5 minute break and grab a coffee, lift weights, do some weeding in the garden, read the newspaper, anything to give yourself a break for a few minutes. The essential thing is to get away from the computer.
- Create a Timetable
This is a new one that I’m currently trying out. Remember when you were at school you used to be given a timetable by your tutors telling you what subjects you were doing when? Well, why not apply this to your working day? As I’ve always got so many tasks to do I’ve recently drawn up a timetable for my working day, just like I had at school, and split my days up into chunks where I work on specific projects for set time periods, that way I keep several of my many projects evolving rather than languishing!
In conclusion, time management is essential to get the most from your day and by using some or all of these simple tips and sensibly planning what to do with your time, you can accomplish more during your working day, feel less stress and stay ahead of your work schedule for the majority of the time.
I’ve got a few more tips up my sleeve to which I’ll share with you over the coming weeks too!