How to do Time Management Like a Boss
Top 10 Simple Productivity Tips
People often comment that I appear very “organised” or I get a lot done. In truth, I faff, I waste time, I get overwhelmed, I start things that I don’t finish… I’m not the pillar of success in productivity. BUT and this is a big but, I know time management tools and hacks, I’ve tried a bunch and I’ve put together this top 1o simple productivity tips so that you can get more time out of your day!
I try every system I find, and I retry most of them. I rotate them. I’m on the hunt to find the secret sauce to get the most out of every part of the day!
I always use my knowledge to help my clients and their teams run more productive workplaces, which is why if you want to do time management like a boss, you should keep reading!
1. Check your beliefs around time management at the door
There is a fair bit of evidence that suggests what you believe to be true, is actually true! One of my clients had the habit of talking about how “frantic” and “out of control” they were. They always had a thousand things to do, but the business was going nowhere! I set a challenge; I banned the use of any word that was in alignment with “busy”, “frantic”, “crazy”, “no time” etc. After a week of the challenge, I asked how they were doing. And surprise surprise–they had the most successful and productive week of their life! Well… how about that??!
Ask yourself – “what do I think about time?”
If you’re saying “there isn’t enough time in the day” or my favourite (written in sarcasm font – when is that font going to be created by the way???)) “I’m just sooooo busy” think about the impact that might be having on your day. What you believe becomes true!
2. Write that sh1t down!
Unless you have a photographic memory, use that brain space for more important things. Create a system to write important or in fact ANY and ALL ACTIONS down. The benefit of this is that in the chunk you’ve created for “admin” or “client actions” that’s when you check your list and do that task. Simple! If you’re prone to overwhelm, this can help to stop the head spinning.
3. Do it the day before
Do your planning and preparation of what you’re going to achieve tomorrow at the end of today. This has an amazing effect on the brain’s capacity to stay the course as you go through your day. Know what you want to achieve or the actual times you’re going to do things, and your brain will force you to keep up! Trust me! 🙂
4. Block out your time
Set your diary up in a way where you allocate blocks of time to do specific activities. This avoids a “shiny thing syndrome” developing, and also allows time to do things that are important, but not urgent. I call this a Default Diary or Ideal Week. Time management is about controlling YOUR time.
I often have clients do this activity. As a coach working with small business owners, I know that this process often gives them a feeling of calm because it creates a sense of control over when they are doing what. Fancy giving it a shot? Download the template from my website.
5. Time limit EVERYTHING (Pomodoro timer)
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available, and it’s so true! How much work do you get done right at the end of the day, or the days leading up to a holiday? SO MUCH MORE! Because you’re focused and you are restricted in what needs to be achieved.
I love the Pomodoro Timer, which is a super-simple technique of setting a timer for 25 minutes, working uninterrupted for that period, taking a 5-minute break, and repeating for 3 / 4 times before a longer break.
To explain it further, check out this short video.
6. Prioritise tasks based on something (and not what’s fun to do… unless you’re in DEEP procrastination mode!!!)
When I’m struggling to sort out what to do next, I look at my list and I think: “what’s going to make me money?”(sales calls, follow up, marketing pages etc) or, “what’s going to save me time?”(setting up a system, implementing new technology etc). That then sets me on a path of what to do next. Think about what’s important to you and your vision and do the thing that’s most aligned with that. Be careful of monkeys that have been thrown on your back!!! This is YOUR priority list!
Your organisational values can also play a part here. If I’m avoiding a phone call, I’ll force myself to do it because, well, that’s me living my Let’s Talk It Out value! (You can see more about values in this blog), or to hear me talking about my Let’s Talk it Out value – check out this video.
I often prioritise based on the Eisenhower Matrix which you might be familiar with from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey. Want to know more? Tell me in the comments and I’ll do a post on it! 🙂
7. Give yourself permission to remove distractions
Sounds simple right? So why don’t we do it??
Here’s how you can start:
- Close your email down except for the times allocated in your time block. Worried people won’t know where you are? Put an auto-response on to say when you check your emails and you will be back in touch within a certain period. If it’s urgent, they should take another action.
- Snooze notifications on your computer. There are a heap of apps that you can use to limit time and stop things pinging. I haven’t tried them because… well I just try not to take notice!
- Put your phone on do not disturb for chunks of time allocated to actual work or thinking time.
- Set aside time to talk to your team, and say you’re unavailable during your focused work time (“oh but I have an open-door policy”… good for you! How’s that time-management going?)
Make it OK to not always be available! Because you aren’t actually always available.
8. Know what you need to do! Invest in planning
There are some people that always know what needs to be done next, and then there are those that do better with taking a moment to plan. Most of the people who don’t sit and plan are the ones that would benefit most from it!
So how do you plan? Well, it depends on how you think! Think micro? Ask yourself “what do I need to do today, which will get me to my goals?” Think macro? Ask yourself “what are my goals and where do I need to focus to move towards them?” (You’re probably going to lean towards one or the other).
9. Use a system!
I love a system!
- I love a mindmap.
- I love a to-do list.
- I love a minute by minute plan.
- I love a top three.
- I love a frog.
- I love Trello.
- I love Evernote.
- I love Todoist
- I love a Kanban board.
- I love my calendar.
- I love Post-It notes.
- I love my notepad!
(There is a lot of love here!!! Let me know if you want further information of any of the above – I use them all!)
I’ve tried a bunch of them.
If you’re looking at ways to improve ANYTHING, put some system-thinking around it. What does that mean? It means that if I do this then I’ll have that. For example, if I put this task in a to-do list, then I’ll have a list to reflect back on when I need to do the next thing. That’s a system.
The thing about any system, however, is that you HAVE TO USE IT. No point in putting all your things on a to-do list, and then never looking at the list.
Setting up, and then working with, a system takes time, but once you have the system, you may come to rely on the system and not your own brain to keep you on track.
10. Keep it simple, pick that low-hanging fruit
We try to over-complicate things. It’s a human thing.
BE LAZY!!! Do the thing that is easy to do. Now I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t take on big challenges, not at all. But look to technology manufacturers on shipping the MVP (minimum viable product).
Ask yourself, what’s the least amount of work that needs to be done to get the best outcome I’m seeing to achieve? In small business, we don’t have the luxury of massive amounts of resources. If it feels / looks / smells like a good idea, and we’re close to done, you’re done!!!!
I’ve given you 10 tips or strategies that you might want to consider trying to improve your time management, but I know you’re “busy” (ergh)! If you want someone to understand how you think, and your natural style and help set up a system that might work best for you so you can crack on and get sh1t done, then get in touch. I help small business owners get the most out of their time and you can easily book a complimentary 15-minute chat to see how I might be able to assist!
Read this next: Time is Life – Make the Most of ItTags: Leadership Productivity Time Management