The content of this post is extremely useful for improving the productivity of your company and the quality of life of your employees (and your, by the way.) Learning to manage time properly is vital because we are talking about the most valuable currency we have: one that we can never recover.
In order to learn how to manage your time, it is important to watch your language. Yep: you read right. Stop saying you have no time and start saying that you’re going to handle it better, because you can never extend or reduce the 24 hours you have every day. We all have exactly the same amount of time, but not all people handle it properly. If you have the feeling that you need more time, you may start by changing that idea and thinking instead that you’re wasting it. Stop telling you that life is short: maybe you make it shorter. Life can be long (in a good sense) if you know how to handle the time you have at your disposal.
Understand this, and let’s get into the tips:
Plan your day
You never should start working if you don’t know what you are going to do. Take a moment and plan what you have to do today. This is one of the most important moments of your time. Do it the previous day, or every morning before you sit down to work. Have a coffee, relax and plan it up. Make it a ritual.
You don’t have to fill out a complicated Excel, you only need the basics: Write task list (think of all the possible things you have to do), organize them in order of priority… and, quoting Mark Twain, “eat a frog“: Start with the most tedious and difficult task to do (or the most urgent, of course), and continue with the others. Third, make an estimate of how much you delay doing each task. This is important, because if you know that a boring task will take only five minutes, you will finish it without much resistance. Finally, plan your breaks for stretching your muscles, doing some Tai Chi or whatever you do to release stress. It is best to organize this agenda in blocks of time (eg 25 minutes of work, resting five minutes between blocks: Pomodoro technique, highly recommended.)
At the end of your working time, review your list. You’ll notice that maybe it’s not all done. Relax: it’s normal. What you can do with the pending tasks is moving them to the next day; and, if after several days you have moved the same task many times, ask yourself if you really going to do it or not.
What not to do
Just as it is important to make a list of what you should do, know yourself and make a list of your time-vampires: What do you do during your moments of procrastination? No Facebook, no mobile, not interrupting an urgent task every time the phone rings or whenever you get a message, etc. Each person has their own time-vampires, so know yours, and write on your daily task list what you should not do for not wasting your precious time.
Related: Human Resources tips: How to increase productivity by reducing procrastination, by Jason Hanold
Work on your discipline
This is the great secret of good workers, and believe me, is not big deal. Being disciplined is simple (not easy: simple). Understand the concept first: Discipline is doing what you have to do, you like to do it or not. Now, to develop discipline is necessary to create habits, to create automatic actions. I recommend you start by two: reading and writing. Yes, you have read right again.
These are activities will not only bring you a lot of positive things to your life, but will teach you to be disciplined. Start by reading. Set a daily and reasonable quota of pages, for example, thirty pages per day. Read these pages as you like (15 in the morning, 15 in the evening). Take your book or your tablet everywhere and read while you’re in line at the bank, sitting on the toilet, in the subway, at the restaurant, etc. When you take several days reading 30 pages a day, you not just notice that you have read many books without realizing it, but you will have developed a habit. The next step is writing: write a daily page (fill it whatever you want: a journal, what has called your attention, a poem… whatever, but write it.) Likewise, you’ll notice after several days that you will have filled a whole notebook.
You can follow with sports, arts, your studies: anything. Once you have discipline, nothing will be that hard.
This is key. Drink plenty of water (seriously.) If you’re hydrated, your concentration level will remain stable. Eat better and you’ll have more energy. Finally, sleep better. Naps, although they are very useful for improving productivity at work, never compensate the hours of sleep you should have every night. Check out this article, and learn How to Sleep Better.
Meditation can help you to control your anxiety, and therefore to stop procrastinating. In this 35 minute video you can learn a simple technique (and it has nothing to do with spirituality if that worries you.) Meditate 20 minutes every day, and you will tell the good results in the long run.
I hope these tips will be useful for your work, the work of your employees and your life in general. Remember that life is not your free time or weekends. Your life is right now: here and now. Live it well!