In the last chapter, you learned how to lay a productive foundation so that you and/or your employees/outsourcers can be the most productive, which is key to you attaining your goals and having success. In this chapter, you will learn how to implement simple time management techniques in order to be the most productive you can be.
As mentioned earlier, good time management is key to being as productive as possible; time is one of the three elements of productivity. If you don’t manage your time well, time will be wasted, as you will not be able to produce as much as you could if you managed your time better.
Therefore, you need to manage your time as efficiently as possible in order to be as productive as possible. To do that, you need to monitor your time very carefully and ensure you are working efficiently during the times you are working to ensure you are utilizing your time to the best of your ability. The same goes when you manage employees/outsourcers as well to ensure they are utilizing their time as well as possible to ensure you are getting maximum return on investment (ROI) of their salaries or payments.
Time how long it takes you to complete specific tasks. If you work at a computer or at a mobile device, you can easily track the time it takes you to complete a task via the clock on the computer or mobile device. Note the time you start a project- it’s preferable to write down the start time on a piece of paper, in a text file, or in a spreadsheet file such as .xls or .xlsm rather than just remembering it in your head). Then, note the time you work until the time you take a break. Note the break time as well to see how long of a break you take, then note the time you start back up again. Note that you should also mark down times you are interrupted due to some distraction and mark it down as a distraction. Note again until you take your next break or have another distraction; continue doing this until you finish the project.
Review the times you recorded in terms of the times you worked, how long your breaks were, and the overall time it took you to complete the project. Consider how long you thought the project would take (you can actually note the amount of time you expect the project it will take before you begin on the piece of paper, in the text file, or in the spreadsheet file), then compare.
If the project took as long as expected or shorter, consider rewarding yourself for the job well done. If the project took longer than expected, review your log and see if there were any distractions that hindered your productivity. If so, could those distractions been avoided or were they unexpected? If there were no distractions noted, consider why else it took you longer to finish the project than expected. Did you lose focus and your mind started to wander? Was the project more difficult than anticipated?
Determine why you took more time than expected to complete the project, then make changes based on the reason(s) of why the project took longer than expected. If your mind wandered and you lost focus, consider getting more rest each night. If social media and/or email accounts are distracting you, log off of them while you are working. Determine what the cause was for why you were less productive than expected, then make appropriate changes as needed to improve your productivity.
You can even make this into a game or challenge of sorts in the sense that if you complete all of the work you expected in the amount of time you expected or less, not only can you reward yourself, but you can attempt to do even better the next time by either shortening the amount of time to complete your next set of tasks or by adding more tasks to complete in the same amount of time as your last set of tasks. Both ways can help to improve your productivity.
Note that there are several online timers that can also help to track your time. In addition, some of them have bells or other sounds that can sound after a specific time period. This feature can be used to signal an amount of time for you to work, then to take a break. If you are using Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, you would schedule 25-30 minutes of interrupted work time; when the timer goes off, you put a checkmark on a piece of paper, then get a 3-5 minute break. Once you have accumulated four checkmarks (i.e. the fourth break), you get a 15- to 30-minute break, then repeat the cycle again.
Alternatively many experts suggest taking a 15-minute break every hour; this allows the mind to refocus so that you can have a strong focus on the work you are doing. The online timer can also be used in this regard as well.
The main point of this chapter is that you need to keep track of the amount of time you take to complete the tasks and projects you are expected to complete to attain your goals and the success you want. You need to monitor how much time you are working, any and all breaks you take, any distractions that occur, and the total amount of time it takes to complete a project. Compare the total amount of time it took to the amount of time you thought it would take; if you completed it in that amount of time or less, reward yourself for your productivity and challenge yourself to do even more in less time at your next work period. If you did less than you expected, determine what caused you to take longer and make adjustments in terms of distractions and/or focus to enable you to be more productive with your next set of tasks.
Check out our Blog post The Pomodoro Technique – A Terrific Technique to Boost Your Productivity. This article explains the Pomodoro technique in more detail here.
In the next chapter, you will learn how to remove all of the unimportant tasks and why it’s important to your productivity.
Take a few minutes to go through the exercise below in order to minimize “time waters.”
Exercise 5: Time Management