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13 Time Management Tips to Help You Stay Productive

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Sometimes employees state there is not enough time to finish their to-do lists and often feel behind every day. By using good time management skills, you should be able to manage your day effectively. Many successful people claim that effective time management skills help them stay focused and keep them on track with their daily tasks and schedules.

Here are some tips to improve your time management skills:

1. Develop a good morning routine

By developing a good, structured morning routine, you will be able to clear your mind and stay focused. Many people claim that developing a morning routine gives them a sense of calmness and removes the feeling of chaos without the need of playing catch-up throughout the day.

For example, Richard Branson wakes up at 5:00 am each morning to work out. He claims it boosts his productivity significantly. 

In the book, The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod says, “How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life.”

Think about what you would like to do in the morning or how you want to feel. At first, it may seem difficult but once you set up your routine, it will become easier. 

2. Make a list and do the hardest things first

Develop a list of things that must get done that day. By prioritizing the most important things you must do early in the morning or the day before, you are one step closer to organizing your time.

Also, you should focus on doing the hardest thing first. Everything else will seem minor after you complete that task.

When you dread doing something, you will waste energy thinking about it when you procrastinate. Get it over with and move on. 

3. Get organized

If your desk is cluttered and your computer files are messy, you may be spending too much time finding the necessary information. Anything in your work or personal life that seems disorganized and distracting, take some time to organize. If you have a lot of paper files, consider investing in a secure system to make digital copies. This will help you find files and documents easier. File completed projects. Focus on current projects and list them in the order in which they need to be done by the deadline date. 

If items are stacking on your desk, they can distract you when you are working on a project. Ensure you clear those items, or they are put on your to-do list to complete. If it is filing, delegate someone to do that or put it all in a basket until you can do it yourself. Don’t let your desk be a messy distraction. If you have articles or magazines you want to read at some point, put them in a basket to read later. 

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4. Delegate       

Think about different tasks you can either delegate or outsource for your small business. Delegation can be a struggle for small business owners especially as you grow. But as your business grows you will have to focus on the bigger picture items and let someone else handle the smaller tasks. Otherwise, you will find yourself drowning in many tasks. Will others handle something exactly as you did? Probably not. But they may even be able to come up with a better way to do things.

If you hired good people who care about your business, why not trust them? If you don’t trust them, they shouldn’t work there. They will make mistakes, but they will learn. 

Daymond John of Shark Tank says he tries to have his team members handle most of his meetings and he comes in the last part so that he doesn’t have to sit through all the meetings to get the same information. Every day, you should ask yourself what you can delegate to others. If you don’t have the right people to do those tasks, hire the best and put them in your business.

5. Manage your calendar

By ensuring you keep a calendar for all your tasks, and stay on track with it, you will feel focused and in control. Put project deadlines on your calendar. Of course, events happen throughout the day which can throw your calendar off. Move the less important items around and do everything you can to stay on top of it. 

Make your calendar your daily reference and guide. If you are constantly going over time on your calendar, then set a timer to see how much time you spend on different tasks. Can you shorten the time, or do you need to add extra time to your calendar for those tasks?

6. Concentrate on the task you are on

When working on a project or a task, you should focus on that entirely and try not to allow any distractions or interruptions. Close your email so that you are not interrupted. Put your phone on do not disturb. If something is an emergency, your staff will know when to interrupt you. Block off that time in your calendar to ensure no one schedules an appointment for you during that time.

Furthermore, consider answering emails only at certain times of the day especially when you are working on projects. 

Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of the productivity app Asana and Facebook says, “Pick one day a week that you and your team can focus on getting individual work done without any interruptions like meetings. At Asana, we have No Meeting Wednesdays established to encourage flow and productivity across the company.”

7. Keep a notebook

If you are a small business owner or someone who is always coming up with ideas, keep a small notebook with you. Many successful people use a notebook to capture their thoughts or ideas throughout the day. By keeping a notebook, you can write down ideas, tasks, lists, meeting notes, and other things. Then later you can refer back to it.

8. Take short breaks and lunch

By taking time between each task, you can clear your mind from the last task and take a moment to get prepared for the next project or task. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post says she takes pauses throughout the day and steps away each day during lunch, even if it is only 20 minutes. She says this helps her stay more productive and reduces her stress.

9. Find software that helps you

Look for productivity tools that may help you manage your time effectively. For example, if you are managing your company’s social media instead of delegating it, find software that can help you schedule your posts automatically. 

If you are a service-based business like a landscaper or cleaning service, invest in an online scheduling system to create schedules for your employee. Invest in a time tracking app to help you manage your employee’s timesheets instead of manually tracking their time. 

Using good software helps eliminate mistakes and helps you focus on more important tasks. 

10. Notice repetitive tasks

What tasks do you continue to do repeatedly? Look at your past six months or year and find out what you may be able to solve by getting a new software or by delegating it to someone else. Could you change that repetitive task into a habit you need to schedule daily that would take less time? Be conscientious of what you are doing to organize yourself better.

11. Label Your Tasks

What is important and needs to be completed now. Once you’ve made your task list label them:

  • Do: Tasks that are important and urgent.
  • Defer: Tasks that are important but not urgent.
  • Delegate: Tasks that are urgent but not important.
  • Delete: Tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

Once you label your tasks and to-do lists, you will know what you need to do, defer, delegate, and delete. 

12. Set and manage your goals

Whatever goals your small business decided at the beginning of the year, make sure you have due dates scheduled on your calendar. Some of the larger items may need to be broken up into smaller steps and put on a timeline to manage each task. 

For example, if you are putting in a new customer service tracking system, you probably will need to schedule several meetings to discuss and schedule dates of completion for every step of the project.

13. Make meetings count

Many people complain that there are too many meetings they must attend. If you need to hold a meeting, ensure every meeting starts on time and make them short. 

Richard Branson holds stand-up meetings only. He says, “One of my favorite tricks is to conduct most of my meetings standing up. I find it to be a much quicker way of getting down to business, making a decision, and sealing the deal. When given the opportunity, I often like to take things a step further – literally, with a walking meeting.”

Additionally, if your meetings are scheduled for a certain time, make an agenda and stick to it. Agendas are a great way for everyone to be on the same page and stay on track. If new items come up, add them to a list to be on the next agenda. If your meetings always go over, then no one can plan their schedules. 

Final Thoughts

If you are always in a hurry or feel rushed and stressed every day, find ways to ensure you make each moment count. Be early to meetings or finish tasks early to gain more time. By keeping organized, you will find your time managed more effectively. 

Place everything on your calendar. Time management is important for every person regardless of whether you are just starting in your career or you are an entrepreneur. You also need time to unwind, spend time with your family, and have fun. Try to develop good time management routines so you can manage your time, your life, and your career effectively.


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.