Are you often late, a procrastinator, or someone who feels stressed about all the tasks you need to complete? Do you know someone who always seems organised and on top of everything? The type of person who is always punctual, finishes tasks before their deadline and never misplaces their wallet or car keys. Since we all get the same 24 hours in a day, why is it then that some people find it easier to be organised and achieve more than others? The answer is time management.
There is no shortage of books, articles, blogs and apps on time management. Yet, the advice they give on how to be more efficient with your time can often sound good in theory but not work in practice. This is because there is no single time management strategy that works for everyone. Time management skills look different for every person. They should be tailored to your personality, lifestyle and busy schedule.
So, how can we help? At Elite Words, we know a thing or two about time management. Our job as copywriters requires us to juggle multiple tasks at once. As we work in a team, we also know that there is no one size fits all approach to time management. We all have different strategies, lifestyles and working habits. That’s why we’re telling you about five different time management strategies that each of us find helpful. We’re sure that one (or a few!) of these tips will make it easier for you to manage your time more efficiently.
Here are five of our top time management tips.
1. One task at a time
We work efficiently when we are concentrating on a single task. But achieving concentration is easier said than done. The average person’s mind wanders 47 percent of the time, according to a 2010 Harvard study. This means that nearly half the time you’re doing something, your mind is somewhere else!
To concentrate on the task at hand, you need to minimise interruptions and distractions. They break up our train of thought and increase the amount of time spent on a task. Of course, for many of us, blocking off hours on end for a single task is simply not possible. But even spending five minutes focused on one task will yield productivity benefits. When you are interrupted, the main thing to remember is that you should not float between tasks.
Here are a few small changes you can make that will help you concentrate on the task at hand:
- work on just one screen
- turn off notifications on your mobile phone
- establish a dedicated space, such as an office or corner of the kitchen table, for work you complete at home
- work in a well-lit area with as much natural light as possible.
2. Organised surroundings, organised time
Have you ever misplaced your car keys or wallet? Did you know that these items were in your house, but you couldn’t remember where you last put them down? Did finding them take longer than you thought it would? This is why Julie Morgenstern, a New York Times best-selling productivity consultant, believes we should connect time management to our surroundings.
‘The biggest obstacle we have to organising time is our perception of it,’ Morgenstern says. ‘We think of it as intangible, relative, qualitative. But it’s impossible to manage if you think of it like that. Instead, think of your day like an overstuffed closet. First, you need to tidy it: group like with like; get rid of stuff that is broken; put everything in consistent places; excise things that you don’t have room for.’
If this approach to time management sounds like it would work for you, first try organising an item that you use regularly. This item could be your handbag, wallet or even the pockets of your coat. Then, move onto rooms and eventually your whole house. When this is done, try to apply this to how you organise your time. You can start with small chunks of your day and slowly increase the hours from there.
3. Break your day up into buckets of time
If you’re not a to-do list type of person, there’s another way to organise your tasks. You can divide your day up into ‘buckets’ of time. This means that you have start and stop times, as well as specific blocks, for certain tasks. By doing this, your day will have structure, but you won’t need to tick off items on a list.
One way to break up your day into chunks of time is to make your list of tasks part of your calendar. You can schedule a time to reply to emails, a time for meetings and a time for short breaks from work. This also means that you’ll also be less distracted by other jobs when you’re working on the task at hand. For example, if an email notification comes through, you’ll know that there a few times in the day when you deal with your inbox.
4. Make online distractions inconvenient
It’s estimated that Australians are spending nearly 40 hours per week online. With the internet and smartphones all around us, it’s easy to become distracted – to quickly check social media or browse some online stores. For many of us, online procrastination is a sort of habit. To stop this, focus on changing your surroundings rather than yourself. This means that you should place obstacles between yourself and online distractions. These obstacles might include:
- deleting social media apps from your phone or giving them a 12-digit password
- turn off notifications for emails and texts messages
5. Take a break!
This final tip may sound paradoxical. However, sometimes doing nothing is the best way to be more efficient. When we work around the clock, sleep less than we should and never exercise, our minds aren’t as alert and it’s easier to make mistakes. Think of your brain as a battery. It only works if you let it recharge. One easy way to do this is to schedule breaks for unfocused activities, such as a short walk outside or sitting down to eat lunch.
Need Help? Get in Touch!
The Elite Words team may not be able to organise your life, but we can put more hours back into your day! Our copywriting services will save you time that you can spend on what you’re best at. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do to help.