Time Management, Productivity Tips

Time management, productivity tips are intended to make the road to efficiency smooth and easy to navigate. Most people are productive but feel as if they should be getting even more done. In this article I suggest 5 things that you can stop doing because they either waste time or disrupt your focus and workflow. Read more…

Time management, productivity tips #1: Stop answering every phone call

woman answering call
Answering every phone call (freedigitalphotos.net imagerymajestic)

Time management, productivity tip #1 is to avoid answering every phone call can be disruptive to your workflow as well as your personal time. Remember that your friends and family will understand that you have work to do. Try these time management, productivity tips:

  • If it is not urgent you can take advantage of the benefits of technology and utilize caller ID and voicemail.
  • If you know that talking to a specific person will take a longer than usual time, schedule the call and agree to a time limit. You can say something like, “I want to catch up (or discuss this) and only have XX number of minutes. I hope that works for your schedule, too.”
  • Customize your voicemail message and tell callers when you will be available. “I am usually available between the hours of XX and XX. If you are not able to call then let me know a good time to reach you. If I am on another call I will return yours shortly. Thank you for your patience.”
  • Remember, you do not need to leave a reason why. Then be sure to be available during those hours to receive and return calls.

Time management, productivity tips #2: Stop writing long emails, text messages

man texting
Text messages (freedigitalphotos.net patrisyu)

Time management, productivity tip #2 addresses the original intent of emails and text messages. That is, these were designed to be brief and to the point.

  • Limit email messages to 1 subject at a time. This applies to personal as well as work messages.
  • Use the subject line to indicate what it is regarding and for what purpose. For instance, “FYI Relevant article”, or “Review and respond by (date)”.
  • Emails are more efficient if limited to 1 paragraph and if appropriate, use bullet points.
  • Text messages are intended to be brief and even cryptic. Ideally, avoid group texts which make tracking individual responses more difficult.
  • Don’t assume everyone knows text abbreviations and spell it out the first time.

Time management, productivity tips #3: Stop “winging it”

Time management, productivity tip #3 will help you to prioritize and get important things done. If you want to do something that is important to you or others you have to make time (preferably schedule adequate time) to do it. Waiting for when you have a “free moment/day/weekend” is not good planning.

  • Pick a task or project and estimate how much time you will need to do it. If you want to talk to a long distance friend, schedule the call with her and set aside an hour so you are not rushed. When you schedule the time it means that you are present for the call and not multi-tasking. This is not the hour to be cooking, scanning social media, or driving.
  • Another tip is to schedule unscheduled time for unexpected situations.

Time management, productivity tips #4: Stop procrastinating

stop procrastinating sign
Procrastinating (freedigitalphotos.net Stuart Miles)

Time management, productivity tip #4 is to stop procrastinating. Procrastination is a common obstacle to time management and productivity. You can change this behavior gradually.

  • Notice when you tend to procrastinate. If you tend to do that more often in the morning, save those tasks for a later time if possible.
  • Observe what types of tasks you procrastinate doing most often. If they are tasks you don’t enjoy you can do them first to get them done and then reward yourself with something more pleasurable. If you don’t have to do them, delegate them!
  • If you think that you work better under pressure, consider whether your procrastination impacts others and your credibility. Is putting things off worth either?

Time management, productivity tips #5: Stop making to-do lists

Time management, productivity tip #5 is about your never-ending to-do lists. Everyone has an opinion on how long a to-do list should be. One source claims that your list should not have more than 3 items on it. My Outside In Approach is to STOP making to-do lists completely.

  • Write your to-do’s into your planner.
  • What day and time would be best to get XX done?
  • How much time will you need to do it, or a portion of it?
  • Schedule it and do it.

This is a radical approach for some people, especially those who are creative types and reject using a planner. The alternative is to continue doing what you are doing and feeling stressed or unproductive. Try something different to get different results.

stressed man with to-do list
To-do lists (freedigitalphotos.net iosphere)

5 obvious signs that your to-do list is not working for you:

  1. You add to your list before the items on it are completed.
  2. You keep rewriting your lists.
  3. You have multiple lists and sticky notes, sometimes with the same items on them.
  4. You feel stressed, overwhelmed, unproductive or defeated.
  5. Your to-do list is not always visible to you.

Help for Time Management, Productivity

Time management skills are a set of learned behaviors, or habits. Want to create Optimal Habits? Consider working with a Time Management Productivity Coach today!

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