Almost everyone I know complains that they haven’t enough time, and many of us have a long list of things we will do when we have more of that most magic of ingredients… time.
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The fact is that we are all blessed with exactly the same measure of time each and every day so, although we may have different responsibilities or things to fit into that allotted time, it usually boils down to how each of us chooses to use the time we do actually have.
So try these 10 top tips to help you use your time to maximum advantage.
1. Invest In A Watch Or Clock
I know it seems unnecessary as we all have phones, but when you check the time on your phone you can notice 4 texts, 3 missed calls, 10 Facebook notifications etc. all of which can tempt you away from what you were doing.
A clock will mean you can keep tabs on the time without being distracted.
2. Structure Your Day
Not all time is equal – do different tasks at different times that work well for you, maybe a mundane job after lunch if you have a slump and more creative or intense tasks earlier in the day when you may be fresher.
Planning chunks of time means you are more likely to put them to good use, so allocate blocks of time for particular tasks, if you run over that’s ok but allocating a set amount means you are not going to get so behind that you can’t move on.
3. Prioritize The Important Tasks
It sounds silly but lots of people get towards the end of a day, session or close to a deadline and somehow haven’t managed to fit in the important task that needed doing.
All tasks are NOT equal so make sure you prioritize the ones that really are important and don’t just allocate them time, allocate them some of your ‘prime’ time when you are at you best.
4. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
We all have emails to answer every day BUT that doesn’t mean you must start your day with them.
You can decide what is important and make sure you get those things done rather than reacting to things and find that half your day has vanished before you have even got to the important tasks.
5. Use The Spare Minutes
NO time needs to be wasted. If you do find yourself waiting, for a meeting or a call or even a train then use the time.
The beauty of our technology is that we can send an email, make a call, read something or even jot down some notes almost anywhere, anytime.
All in a few minutes so instead of grumbling that you are waiting have the satisfaction of using the time wisely to actually get something done.
6. Beware Of Lists And Coloured Pens
We all have our own weaknesses and actually, I am a list lover, but I also know that I can waste significant periods of time by making lists or planning things, especially if I have colored pens.
Planning is important but be careful that it doesn’t draw you in and prevent you actually doing! The same is true of any other distractions.
7. Take Breaks
When we feel pushed for time, as a lot of us do quite regularly, it is easy to avoid taking breaks and what happens is that usually, our productivity goes down.
Breaks are important, particularly physical breaks as in stepping away from your workspace, even better if you can have a few deep breaths of fresh air.
But breaks are essential so don’t view all breaks as a waste of time
8. Use Space
I find that I work better in different spaces depending on the work I’m doing.
I am predominantly home-based and although I have a home office I also have different parts of the house where I do certain tasks.
Admin tends to be in the office but sometimes if I am doing a more creative task I will sit in a different area of the house.
If you are based in a more traditional office where it may be hard to move away to another area then think about using earphones, for example, to provide a different feel and reduce distractions if you have some intense work to concentrate on.
9. Finish By Being Ready To Start
I remember someone telling me that the best way to end a work day was to prepare for the next.
I found it to be really good advice, it only takes a few minutes but I always plan at least my first task or two for the morning before I finish.
I find especially useful on a Friday and honestly it spares me some of the negative Sunday feelings (not that I get them much anyway working for myself) as I know I am prepared for the week ahead.
10. Don’t Waste Time Being Hard On Yourself
Remember we are all human, there will be days that don’t go to plan when we don’t get done what we want or we know we have wasted time.
So what accept it and don’t spend more precious minutes wallowing or eating yourself up!