How To Improve Your Time Management (And Actually Conquer Your To-Do List)
Republished with permission from Do Well Dress Well an Evio Community Partner
I remember when I used to be very busy. As busy as ants, the to-do list kept getting longer instead of shorter. I was going to bed late, waking up early, skipping sleep, multitasking, basically burning the candles at both ends and still, the to-do list grew stubborn and continued to grow in length.
I was always in a state of stress as my tasks weren’t being completed, I became distracted and I failed to complete the assigned tasks.
I knew then that I had to figure out how to manage my time by being productive as opposed to being busy. I understood that I was not being smart enough. I noticed that my method was wearing me out and leaving me in a state of panic with little to nothing being achieved. I needed to become efficient and accomplish more in a shorter period.
If this sounds like you, continue reading as I’m about to share some of the tips I’ve used to improve my efficiency and go from being “busy” to “productive”:
On Sundays, I create a list of tasks that need to be completed by the end of that week. I then place them in order of importance by rating them 1-10 (1 being of least importance, 10 most importance). I estimate the approximate time required to complete each task then order them from most effort to least effort. I usually base the most important one as the one(s) that will get me closer to my goals or generate revenue. This was not easy at first but the result was terrific, I felt more at peace with myself and my productivity increased.
Best Time of Day
I remember when I would complete the easier tasks first hoping to feel more accomplished; however, when it was time to complete the more complex ones, I felt tired and exhausted. Over the years, I’ve become a morning person and have found that completing the most challenging task early in the morning allowed me to feel more accomplished. My energy level is quite high early on a Monday morning so I usually complete more complex high priority tasks on these days. Essentially, it’s important to understand your energy quota and work accordingly since my body is a clock of its own.
At the end of each day, I review my schedule for the next day and plan the tasks and order of completing them. By doing this I found I was more prepared for the next day and I didn’t have to wonder or spend time that day thinking about which tasks to complete.
Let’s be honest, with our smartphones and multiple devices, we can become easily distracted. A study from the University of California Irvine found that when distracted, it takes about 23 minutes for us to return to the task! Whenever I’m working on a task, I have my notifications on my laptop off; my cell phone is on “sleep” mode and in another room. This allows me to commit 100% to the task at hand. Those little gadgets can take up a significant portion of our working hours as it is much easier to get distracted than to remain focused.
Learning to Say ‘’NO’’
This was one of the hardest things to do, “Saying No”. I was saying yes to every meeting, coffee date, phone call, networking event in hopes of it leading to more opportunities. I soon found this to be counterproductive as the work that needed to be completed wasn’t being done. I had to learn to only say yes to things that would align with my goals and would fit within my schedule.
As an entrepreneur, I learned that I couldn’t do everything myself. For me to be more efficient, I had to delegate some of the tasks. I hired a virtual assistant and freelancers to handle tasks I either didn’t enjoy completing or wasn’t as competent in so that I could I diligently focus on the ones I enjoyed.
No more Multitasking
So many of us have been taught that we’ll accomplish more by multi-tasking, however, it’s actually the complete opposite. Our brains can concentrate on only one task at a time. Choose a task and focus on completing it fully before moving on to the next one.
Scheduled Social Media Check-ins
There was a time when the notifications for all of my social media platforms were turned on. As soon as one of those notifications went off, I automatically checked it because I just couldn’t resist them. I later found out how much this was interrupting my productivity. These days those notifications are muted and I have scheduled times throughout the day to check, interact and follow up with them. This gave me a serene atmosphere for critical thinking and focus.
You may be wondering…how does exercise help with my time management? Won’t that be taking away from things I should be completing? Here’s the thing, when you exercise it increases your energy. There’s a mind-body connection that makes us feel happier and more alert when we exercise. The happier we are, the more productive we are. Exercise is an energy booster and energizer – it also keeps us away from the hospital! Most great leaders are well-known for their physical activities.
To sum it up, each of us has 24 hours in a day – a few hours for sleep and the rest for work/leisure. For most of us, this doesn’t seem like enough but that just means we have to arrange, manage and allocate our time more productively.
With proper time-management, we also automatically reduce stress, depression, procrastination, and failures. If you’re ready to go from busy to productive, work smarter instead of harder.