FIVE TOP TIPS FOR BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT
Time management — one of the hardest thing to learn. There are some exceptional people who are born with this ability, but that isn’t an attribute I can claim to have, and I guess I’m not alone.
Time management as a concept appears in work and also in our private lives, but I’ll mainly focus on the work related part of it.
But what we are thinking when we talk about time management?
Here’s an official definition to get us on the right tracks: Time management is the coordination of tasks and activities to maximize the effectiveness of an individual’s efforts. Essentially, the purpose of time management is enabling people to get more work done in less time, to a better quality.
I thought I was pretty good at managing tasks at work, until I changed my job and found myself in a totally different working environment. I started working for an agency, I had new colleagues, got introduced to new workflows and worked on several projects simultaneously. Honestly — I was in shock for weeks. My job was overwhelming, I did a lot of overtime, I was tired as hell and felt I wouldn’t last long in my new role. It was time to act.
How did i make the change?ln very small baby steps, creating new habits which I still try to improve every day. I’m going to share them with you here:
STEP ONE: ALWAYS PREPARE FOR THE NEXT DAY
- Take notes during the day
- Summarize them as checklists before leaving work
- Sort them in order of priority
By doing this, I always know what’s waiting for me tomorrow and how I should organize my day. This is now a routine for me and requires little conscious effort.
For taking notes I use the Bear app. It’s simple, easy to use and last but not least very cute.
For creating checklist I use Wunderlist. This is a todo app which helps you to creates checklists and allows you to set reminders, create folders, set due dates or share your list with your co-workers.
STEP TWO: UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF SAYING NO
Another tool I introduced was saying no to things which were interesting, but not important. For example deciding how many donuts we should order for the company party. Of course donuts are important, but if you are working at capacity with deadlines on the horizon, you can let it go and allow your other colleagues to do it. There will be another donut ordering opportunity I’m sure.
STEP THREE: USE THE DO NOT DISTURB MODE
I really love this feature on my Mac. Social Media can be a productivity killer, taking our attention away from work tasks and breaking our concentration. When I need to focus on something it can be really disturbing when Slack messages or Facebook alerts pop up. I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist checking every notification as it comes in. So after I drink my morning coffee, check my emails and Slack messages I turn on the do not disturb mode and start focusing.
Of course hitting do not disturb on your MAC doesn’t stop your colleagues from disturbing you (cue poking a cat meme!) So when you really need to concentrate, head for the home office. I’m a big fan of staying at home when productivity is your number one goal, you can avoid distractions like casual phone calls, impromptu meetings, and interruptions from colleagues with ease and really rattle through your to do list at speed.
Be careful though, the home office can be disturbing too, sometimes it’s hard not focus on the tower of laundry, so maybe do some preparation the night before so that you feel at ease in the morning.
Fun fact: Home office laundry room is a real thing. I was looking for a picture for this blogpost and I googled ‘home office laundry’. A whole new world has opened up to me… try it, search for “home office laundry room ideas” :)
STEP FOUR: THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
This technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that the inventor Francesco Cirillo used as a university student.
Use this method and you can focus your concentration on the activity at hand and not get overwhelmed by your workload. Twenty five minutes is the perfect length of time to get a decent amount of work done without becoming exhausted. The regular breaks also keep your mind refreshed, ready to take on the next Pomodoro in line. Check the details here.
STEP FIVE: MY OFFICE STEREO
For me, it has to be Noisli, which is a background noise generator. You can mix different sounds and create your perfect sound environment tailored to your personal needs and taste. I didn’t believe in these tools at first (maybe I tried the wrong ones), but this one is perfect, I really love it. You can combine it with the Pomodoro technique (it has a timer), and you can save your favourite combinations of sound. You can check mine here, it’s a bit weird, I know, but that’s my ultimate focus mix.
So, this was my pathway to a more manageable workday. Did you find it useful? If you have some ideas to add, drop it in the comments section and if you want more information about the apps i use, ask away!