The ability to utilize your time most efficiently is among the most important skills for professional success. No matter how talented or hard working you may be, if you are unable to be intentional and maximize your effort, you won’t reach your full potential with the quality or quantity of your results. Check out these tips for how to master time management skills for greater productivity:
Evaluate Your Current Situation
Awareness is the first step to improvement. Before you can improve your time management, you must have clarity on it. Evaluate your current situation – what do you spend the most time on, what do you commonly struggle with, and how far are you from where you wish to be? Additionally, consider tracking your time over a workweek to see how long you spend on specific tasks (as well as distractions or unproductive activities) to have objective data from which to work and make improvements.
Prioritize Your To Do List
If you’ve ever experienced a hectic day where you’re constantly busy, but yet feel like you have nothing to show for it in the end, that’s likely because you didn’t prioritize. Optimal productivity isn’t about how many items you complete – it’s about how much progress you make on the most important ones.
As you compile your To-do list, consider the commonly utilized time management model, the Eisenhower Matrix, and rank tasks based on their importance and urgency. Ideally, you should be spending the most time on important and urgent tasks, followed by important tasks, and then urgent but unimportant tasks as needed. Using this framework to assess tasks can prevent the common trap of being reactive and working on the first task that comes to your attention rather than what will help you make progress on your long-term goals.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Multitasking is counterproductive to getting more work done because it leaves you spreading your brain’s attention across a variety of areas, instead of just one performed optimally. Focus on one task at a time to streamline your cognitive effort – when you think you’re multitasking and tackling tasks simultaneously, your brain is actually just quickly switching back and forth between different types of activities. Working on a single task can prevent mental fatigue, reducing the risk of mistakes and distractions and leaving you with higher-quality results.
Align Your Schedule with Your Natural Tendencies
Get more accomplished with less effort by working with your own patterns and preferences instead of trying to use sheer willpower. Align your schedule with your natural tendencies – plan to tackle your most deep thinking work during the time of day when you’re most alert, and then save administrative tasks for the time of day when you have your natural lull. As much as you are able, protect your time of day when you are at your most easily focused and don’t use it for meetings, emails, or other work that doesn’t require concentration. Finally, include intentional breaks into your daily schedule so you can recharge and have the energy to maintain the momentum to be at your utmost productive.
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