Time management can be tough because it seems like there’s always something that needs to be done. How do we decide what has to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow? How do we make something a priority and ensure it gets completed? I will be the first to admit that time management is difficult, especially in the digital world we live in. Everything is beeping and buzzing, demanding our attention, so what comes first and what can wait? Let me outline it for you and hopefully help you structure your day so you get more completed and reduce those distractions.
Recognize destination procrastination
Destination procrastination is anything you do or “go to” that feels productive but really isn’t. A big one is social media, like Facebook, but others include podcasts, tidying the house, or answering email. All these things feel productive but are actually distractions because they aren’t a top priority. Recognize what you do to distract yourself so that you can stop doing it, and set aside time for these tasks. A big one for me was emails and phone calls, once I realized I was spending lots of time on them I built windows into my day to check in and others to silence them so I could focus on something else.
To do lists
If you want to get better at time management, to-do lists are a must. So many people think that they can’t go back to paper and pen because we live a digital life but they’re so wrong! Writing down your daily tasks and events connects you to the list in a way tapping on a screen can’t. Using your hand and pen to write out your day will let your brain think through what needs to be accomplished and will let you prioritize your tasks. I write out my list each night before bed, and in the morning take a photo of it and put it in my to-do list app on my phone. That way I always have it to reference. Another great tip is to make your to-do list app the only app on your homescreen. Then whenever you check your phone it’s seen first and redirects your attention. The best approach to to-do lists in my opinion, is to write out your top 3 tasks of the day and then follow up with 3-5 secondary tasks you’d like to accomplish. Those top 3 are the highest priority and will be focused on first, then if you have more time you can try to knock one or two more off the list.
A big part of time management is holding yourself accountable not only to the tasks of the day but to the whole process. Tell someone of your new plans so they can help hold you to them. If you feel like you have to answer every email and phone call as soon as it comes in, change your availability and announce it to everyone with an email and your voice mail message. Once people are aware that you only answer phone calls in the afternoon they will adjust to your schedule. I like to read email in the morning but answer in the afternoon, and I silence my phone for most of the day, checking in at lunch and returning calls in the afternoon. Find a schedule that works for you and you’ll be infinitely more productive.
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