Time management is an essential skill for business people. You may have many unplanned interruptions throughout your work day, but it’s still your decision about how to handle them. They can disrupt your entire day, or you can still complete important tasks without worrying.
Stress is a huge time-waster. Tackle it first, by organizing the limited time you do have. Every day is 24-hours long, and good time managers make the most of each one. Fortunately, time management techniques can be learned by anyone. Once you have more confidence that you won’t fall behind or miss a deadline, you’ll be able to focus completing the tasks efficiently.
Sort out a tricky project into several small chunks. Work through two or three portions on a regular basis until it’s gone. This is also a good bridge toward delegating smaller tasks to helpers.
Multitasking is Inefficient
When your attention is spread across multiple tasks, it takes longer to complete them. You have to refocus your thoughts each time you return to a task. Instead, clear your desk and your mind. Then focus on one thing exclusively. Devote yourself to a single task until your mind begins to wander. If that happens, take a break or switch tasks entirely; don’t try to juggle two or more tasks.
Stop Giving in to Digital Procrastination
Procrastination is essentially giving in to an immediate reward–a good feeling–to avoid dealing with something unpleasant. If you re-train your mind to enjoy taking on small chunks of work at a time, you won’t be tempted to visit Facebook.
For some people, basic pen and paper work just fine to organize their days. Try making basic checklists and to-do lists. Then, every time you complete a task, draw a line through it. This visually encourages and reinforces your progress toward your goals.
If you still feel overwhelmed, enroll in a leadership development program. You’ll find experienced mentors who can provide expert time management advice for your specific situation.
Shut Down Distractions
Set your phone to silent, and check messages at pre-set times throughout the day. Turn off Wi-Fi access, if you can. Don’t even open email on your desktop – if you must, check it on your smartphone, then put the phone away.
If you’re really having trouble focusing, especially when critical deadlines loom, uninstall social apps (or any other distractions) from your smartphone and your computer. You can always re-install them later. If that is too extreme, try this app, Freedom. It temporarily blocks distractions from the internet, apps, and social media sites.
When a random, but important or distracting, thought pops into your head, handle it. Give it five seconds, and if it’s worth keeping, write yourself a note. There are several easy to use programs that are perfect for compiling and organizing tidbits of information.
Microsoft OneNote has a feature that waits on your taskbar until you open it, type a few words, then close it. The notes are automatically saved to a default location called “Quick Notes”. OneNote keeps a your idea, to be organized later.
If you implement a system like this, jotting down the note and tucking it out of sight, new ideas and problems, won’t distract you from completing your task. And you don’t have to worry about forgetting about them either.
Pause your workflow several times a day and let your mind rest. Take a quick walk, or a power nap. Run an errand, doodle, or do some yoga. There are plenty of ways to give your brain a refreshing break. You’ll be more productive after each one.
Small interruptions cause you to become distracted from your current task for almost 30 minutes. So, it’s important to be able to focus without giving in to stress. Keep an open mind and try out new techniques and tools. Try to improve on your previous day’s accomplishments, even if it’s simply by adding one good habit, or dropping a bad one. Keep at it until these time management tips are second nature.
By: Mark Palmer