Top 7 Time Management Hacks to Turbo-Boost Productivity
Do you feel like you’re in a constant battle with the clock? It can leave you wishing you could fire the person responsible for making only 24 hours available in each and every day. But the grim reality is exactly that – there really are only 24 hours available to you each day, which makes effectively utilizing those hours a top priority for anyone interested in business success. Here are some of the top time management hacks that can turbo-boost your productivity:
Assess your time management skills. It’s useful to begin by figuring how good or not good you are at time management. This will tell you how urgently you need to start adopting the hacks presented below. If you’re already really good at it, then you might only need a little tweak here and there. If you’re terrible at it, then you’ll want to gear up for a major push to improve. Use this simple online assessment from MindTools to get a baseline snapshot of your time management skills: How Good is Your Time Management?
Avoid the shortchange effect. If you want to be a peak performer who squeezes every ounce of productivity out of a day, you simply have to avoid shortchanging anything related to staying healthy. Your body is your tool, and if you shortchange it for the sake of productivity, you’ll jeopardize the very thing you’re trying to enhance. Do not find more time in your day by shortchanging sleep, nutrition or exercise.
Establish sacred times to get stuff done. Carve out blocks of time where you will literally eliminate all distractions and become laser-focused on getting things done. University professor and serial entrepreneur Bryan Guido Hassin calls them airplane days after he noticed how much he would get done on long flights with fewer distractions. He blocks these times out on his schedule as if he were on an airplane flying someplace. Asana CEO and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz has No Meeting Wednesdays. Pugmarks.me co-founder Bharath Kumar, on the other hand, chooses to work Sunday nights. Once everyone else is asleep at the end of the weekend and before a new work week gets started, he can get a lot done and feel great walking into work Monday morning. Whatever method feels right to you, finding these sacred blocks of time to hone in on completing tasks is essential to managing your time and boosting productivity.
Eliminating distractions. Hard as it may be, this one goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Having sacred work blocks is useless if you don’t eliminate the distractions that get in the way of efficiency. That means turning your phone off, no Internet access beyond what is necessary for the work itself, and not allowing people interruptions. For many, this will mean you have to find a place to go to focus. Find that place, and then don’t tell anyone where it is!
Prioritizing tasks. This is where things can really fall apart for some people. There are different ways to do this, so you’ll have to see what ends up working for you. Hidden Reflex founder Alok Bhardwaj always starts his day by tacking the least desirable tasks first before getting wrapped up in anything (eliminating distractions). Tech advisor and startup junkie Matt DeCelles, on the other hand, starts off with whichever task is most important. Others talk about taking on the most difficult task first. The point is to take whatever task you know will be difficult to face later in the day and start things off by plowing right through it when you’re fresh. Letting yourself start the day with easy tasks is a form of procrastination that pushes the harder ones off to a time of day where you are more likely to just throw up your hands and walk away. One exception to this approach, however, is David Allen’s well known Two-Minute Rule, which suggests when a task comes to you that will take less than two minutes to complete, do it immediately. Having those little easy wins along the way can make a big difference in feeling and being more productive.
Delegating and outsourcing. When you let yourself struggle trying to accomplish something you either can’t or don’t want to do, it kills your morale and your productivity. You should always delegate whenever possible, and delegating might mean outsourcing some of your tasks. This is easily accomplished with so many different online freelancing platforms from Upwork to Fiverr to many others that specialize in particular fields that may be of interest to you. These global marketplaces often mean you can get high-quality work for very little money since there are plenty of eager workers in places where a few US dollars go a long ways. You do, however, need to spend a little time getting familiar with these platforms and learning how to spot the good freelancers who will provide top-notch results.
Optimal breaks. Most people cannot focus like a laser for hours at a time. In fact, trying to do so often ends up leading to fatigue and stress that ultimately hinders your effective use of time. You need regular breaks to refresh and reset in order to continue working well. One approach to this that many have found useful is the Pomodoro Technique developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. He found if he worked hard for 25-minute chunks followed by a five-minute break, he did much better – especially when four successful pomodoros were followed by a more substantial break of 20-30 minutes. He happened to be using a kitchen timer in the shape of a pomodoro (Italian for tomato). During breaks you need to get up and do something different, whether a brisk walk or getting a beverage or something else. There are other similar techniques that vary the amount of working time before breaks and it’s worth experimenting to see what’s optimal for you.
Got time? Probably not, which is why you should start using the seven hacks presented above to sharpen your time management skills, send your productivity soaring, and hit the peak performance you need to achieve success.