Time is arguably the most precious resource in existence. No matter where you are or how much money you have, you have the same 24 hours each day to achieve your goals. Technically, the title of this feature is a misnomer, as it is not exactly easy to generate more time in the day out of nothing. However, time management is a genuine skill and while the hours remain the same, improving productivity and organisation can result in time well spent. The tips below are not sweeping, nor do they require massive lifestyle changes to achieve. Instead, they are quick and easy ways to make the most of each day with basic tweaks to your approach.
1. Make the Best of Your Active Times
Some individuals are morning people, while others consider themselves as night owls and tend to perform best when the rest of the neighbourhood has gone to bed. Health recommendations aside, it makes sense to capitalise on times at which people feel at their most energetic. If you are a morning person, then schedule the most demanding tasks for this time. Those that prefer operating at night can leave their more difficult tasks for later – as long as they don’t get forgotten about!
In the modern age, it is impossible to account for every minute of every day. Calls, emails and unexpected annoyances will happen, and the best way to deal with this is to take care of the most pressing tasks as early as possible. In the workplace, priorities will often be assigned, while in personal life, people can decide for themselves which potential task is most pressing.
3. Use a Calendar
Most people use a calendar to keep track of dates and appointments, but they can also be used for deadlines and to do lists. Technology may be responsible for difficulties in the previous point, but it is fantastic for calendar maintenance. Using a cloud-based system, multiple calendars spanning work and home life can be accessed in one place and from any device, and notifications can be set up to give plenty of notice of upcoming events.
4. Organisation is Key
The less time spent looking for something, the more time is left for being productive. Both electronic and physical filing on a regular basis means that everything is where it should be and will be easy to find when needed. Getting ahead in this respect also greatly reduces the chances of procrastination.
5. Be Realistic
We promote list-making and task management throughout these tips, but it is important not to exaggerate what can be achieved in any period of time. Indeed, a long to-do list with tight deadlines can lead to procrastination, as even strong planning can result in a daunting list of goals that gives the illusion of there being no ideal place to start.
6. Use Smaller Tasks to Set the Mood
The hardest part of being productive on any given day is often getting started. Carrying out a small or simple task first will get the individual in a productive mindset. One such example is an individual that ensures that as soon as they get up, they make the bed. While small, this is an accomplished goal for the day and switches the brain on to achieving bigger and better things.
7. Compartmentalise Larger Tasks
Following on from the tip above, it can be a good idea to break larger tasks down into their smaller, constituent parts. Big tasks can be difficult to start as they are daunting, and it can be difficult to visualise the endpoint. However, when broken down into smaller parts, the sense of achievement and completion comes along far more regularly, spurring the individual on to work towards the next one.
Too many people get into the mindset that if they want something done properly, they need to do it themselves. However, some tasks simply need to get done and could be done by anyone. In the working environment, asking colleagues for help or delegating a task to someone else can get more done in the same amount of time, while at home it is simple but effective to get family members to lend a helping hand.
9. Celebrate Successes
A great way to keep on track is to reward yourself for meeting the goals that you have set. It does not need to be anything major, and it can actually be more helpful to size the reward in line with the scale of the task. From something as simple as having a coffee as soon as a small task is done, to going out for dinner following the completion of a larger one, the rewards will condition the mind to feel that the efforts that went into completing the tasks were worthwhile.
10. Set Limits
Overall, the best way to free up productive time throughout the day is to limit the amount wasted. Nobody is a robot that brings their A-game without fail every hour of the day, but while browsing the internet and watching TV can be enjoyable, they are unlikely to bring people closer towards achieving their goals. Both can constitute the kinds of rewards mentioned above, but should still be kept to reasonable times that align with individual goals.