In an increasingly competitive and fast-paced world, time is of the essence. This is especially true for prospective leaders and entrepreneurs of the 21st century. The most successful among us are distinguished by their ability to utilize their limited time more effectively than others. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the do’s and don’ts for time management and overall productivity. When everyone is constrained by working hours, it’s important to make the most of it and “conquer the day”.
DO: Make a Schedule
Some people are able to stick to the same daily routine for weeks, months, or even years. Others may prefer to plan out the days of their workweek every Sunday. We recommend taking around 10 minutes each morning to outline your different events, tasks, and priorities for the day. Whatever the method, do make sure to create some sort of schedule or to-do-list for the day. Abiding by fixed times for your activities will curb procrastination tendencies and prevent you from being distracted. The satisfaction of having completed your schedule will serve as motivation for you to continue doing so. This positive trend will become a snowball effect that builds on itself!
DO: Meditate or Exercise During Breaks
Between work sessions, make sure to take scheduled breaks that will allow your brain to rest and re-energize. One way to do so is through meditation. Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as improve one’s attention span. Take 5-10 minutes each day to sit back, relax, breathe deeply, and play some soothing music in the background. Try to clear your mind. When you’re all done, you’ll feel revitalized and ready to take on the next challenge of the day! We also recommend scheduling an extended break period each day for a workout or some sort of exercise. Any sort of physical activity also boosts your overall mood, energy level, and even mental focus.
DO: Discover and Exploit Your “Optimal” Hours
Everyone has a different circadian rhythm. In order to be more productive, observe how your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Afterward, create a schedule that best fits your unique cycles of drowsiness and alertness. Be sure to spend your “optimal” hours during the day working on your most difficult and mentally-stimulating tasks. Delegate less important tasks for relative “slump” periods. Doing so will help avoid burnouts, which may occur if you routinely force yourself to complete tiresome work.
DON’T: Be a Perfectionist
When a rather insignificant (but irritating) problem arises, don’t linger on it for too long. Forcing yourself to move on is a critical time management skill. Take a quick break or work on an entirely different task for a while. Be sure to avoid wasting excessive time on something trivial or large. You might just be able to more easily resolve when you return to it later with a “fresh” mind. Also, if you’ve essentially completed a project but still compulsively feel the need to edit, re-edit, and constantly make tweaks around the edges, simply remember to set a fixed time period for doing so instead of meandering on indefinitely.
Numerous studies have debunked the myth that multitasking is effective. They show that trying to focus on too many tasks at once may compromise the quality of all of them. And since your brain needs sufficient time to “warm-up”, constantly doing so may inadvertently be a waste of time. Also, shifting your “mental gears” too often may even contribute to burnout. Instead, be sure to spend at least 30 minutes on each task before switching over to a different one.
DON’T: Be Distracted by Social Media
As we all know, social media is the king of distractions nowadays. However tempted you are to check that new iMessage, Instagram post, or Snapchat story in the middle of a productive office session, don’t! Because in all likelihood, that notification isn’t quite as important as the task you’re working on at the moment. So don’t waste time on a trivial matter. Make sure that your work sessions are uninterrupted. If that means shutting off your phone or leaving it someplace else, then do as such. Of course, dedicating part of your day to social media is perfectly fine and even valuable in our modern era. Just don’t let it interfere with your more important responsibilities. The best time to catch up on your notifications is while eating lunch, during scheduled breaks, or simply after work.
In today’s workplace, effective time management is a critical skill. Look around. You’ll notice that the most successful among us are typically the ones who make the most of their working hours. Following these simple steps will make you more focused and more productive while experiencing a less stressful healthier lifestyle.