Let’s be honest, most of us want to crawl up in a ball under the covers when we are busy 24/7. With all the paperwork and deadlines, it is easy to want to shy away from your responsibilities because a) you lack motivation b) the workload is too emotionally strenuous or c) you have just had enough. We have all been through this. It is tough, but there is a way.
If you build yourself an effective time management system, a lot of pressure will be lifted off your shoulders. Now that we have got your attention, let’s talk about time management.
Before we get into existing time management systems that you can implement, there are five essential characteristics that every time management system should have.
Look over your tasks and determine how much time that it should take. Also determine what you want to achieve in that time frame. If possible, try and see if you can streamline particular tasks that are of similar nature so you can save time
2. Plan and prioritise
Set time aside in the morning and evening of your day to plan and prioritise based of your goals. Keep a calendar and schedule with you to remind you of deadlines, important days and events. Break large tasks into smaller segments to prevent you being overwhelmed. At the end of the day, look at what you have unfinished and move them into the next day
3. Eliminate distractions
By removing distractions that affect productivity, you will find that you get your tasks completed more efficiently. Set aside break time to check your phone or respond to emails. Once that time is up, back to work you go, no excuses.
4. Say no
If you already have a lot on your plate and someone wants you to do something for.. them, don’t be afraid to say no. Politely decline additional work and activities will not work against you. If you can’t handle more on your plate, it is better to decline than to take on more than you can handle.
5. Rest and replenish
Take breaks to clear your mind and replenish your body. Schedule time for exercise and try to have healthy meals as junk food tends to leave you sluggish. Aim to sleep early to allow your mind to rest for the next day.
Now that you are familiar with these important characteristics, let’s briefly describe some potential time management systems that you can employ in your life to increase your productivity.
The Now Habit by Neil Fiore is a popular self motivational book which creates a new definition for procrastination: procrastination is a mechanism for coping with anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. Fiore emphasises that procrastination is not a character defect but merely a defence mechanism to protect our sense of worth and independence. The Now Habit is focused on eliminating procrastination as a stress reducer and, eliminating guilt as it is a major byproduct of procrastination.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo. This technique uses a timer to break down tasks into intervals, normally 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. You may ask what is a pomodoro? According to the time management system, the intervals are called pomodoros. If you are interested in adopting this technique, here are the 6 steps to implement it:
1. Decide on the task to be done.
2. Set the pomodoro timer (usually 25 minutes).
3. Work on the task until the timer rings.
4. After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
5. If you have less than 4 checkmarks, take a 5 minute break, and go to step 2.
6. After four pomodoros, take a longer 15-30 minute break, reset your checkmark count to zero and go to step 1.
The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss is all about living more and working less. The extremely popular self help book teaches you how to make the most of your time while enjoying the wonders of life. This is a very informative read if you want to learn more about making the most of your time to boost your productivity. Work less, live more.
Do you have a time management system? How effective is it in helping you improve your productivity? Let us know below!