Most of us are busy and finding enough time each day to do all the things we need to do, let alone those we WANT to do can be a challenge. Working out how to manage your time better so that you are more efficient and productive can give you more time to do the things you really enjoy without neglecting the things you need to do.
Turn off email alerts
It may seem like a really great set up to have email alerts automatically pop up on your desk top or phone but it is a huge distraction and reduces your efficiency. Choose times to regularly check your emails throughout the day if needed but don’t have them popping up on the screen every time one comes through. If something is absolutely critical people can pick up a phone and call you.
Have a routine
Whether it is getting the kids ready for school or running through regular activities at work, having a routine will help you manage your time better and make you more efficient. If you have a set of tasks that are completed in a logical order you are less likely to wander off onto unrelated tasks and lose focus. Routines also help you to do things automatically so they become quick and easy.
You may think that by doing multiple things at once you are saving time and while for some stuff this is true, most of the time it just means you are doing lots of things badly. Sure, talk on the phone and clean up your desk or have a coffee while reading a book but if the task is something that requires attention don’t try to multitask. Research into driving has shown that we can’t attend well to two tasks that require focus, one always loses out (this is why you shouldn’t talk on the phone while driving… in fact even using hands free reduces your peripheral awareness). Trying to switch between multiple tasks will not only result in more mistakes, which wastes time when you go back to fix them, but it will also take you longer to complete the tasks than if you had just given your full attention to them separately.
Keep a notebook next to you
If you are anything like me, little thoughts, ideas, to do lists pop into my head at all sorts of random times. It is easy to get distracted from what you are doing and swap between a million tasks at once. Instead of becoming distracted, just write the thought down and come back to it later.
It is no secret that I love planning so of course this was going to be on the list. You can save a lot of time by planning ahead. From things as simple as buying a heap of cards ready to give for different occasions so you don’t need to go out and buy one every time a birthday rolls around through to bulk cooking up meals and planning out Christmas shopping before you head to the shops. Planning reduces the time you waste going back and forth and helps you consolidate like tasks together so you just do them ONCE.
Set a timer
If there is a task you need to do and you know roughly how long it will take, set yourself a timer. You’d be amazed at how much more efficient you can be when you sit down and just focus, knowing there is an end in sight. I do this when writing articles and my newsletter. I allow myself a set amount of time and work like a madwoman for that period. When it’s up I stop and move on to whatever other activity I have planned. This also helps with giving the kids good expectations. It is much easier to say “mummy is going to spend 10 minutes doing xyz and when the timer goes off we will go to the park” than to tell a child you are going to write an email or make a phone call. Those concepts are limitless and they are much more likely to spend the whole time pulling at your leg!