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Key Strategies To Master Productivity

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How To Successfully Manage Time

Now that we walked through some of the most common myths surrounding productivity, focus, and time management, let’s turn our attention to the best strategies you can use to get the most out of every minute of every day. Each of these strategies won’t necessarily work best for everyone, so feel free to test what works for you, keep what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

Strategy #1 – Schedule Everything

This one seems basic and simple, but it is one of the most important. Always remember to schedule. As you become busier and busier, as your life and your business continue to grow, you are going to have more and more tasks to complete, calls you need to be on, and deadlines that you can’t miss. No matter how smart or well off you are, no one can remember everything, and that is why it is important to get into the habit of scheduling your daily tasks. It doesn’t matter if you want to do this in a hand-written calendar, on your phone, or a calendar on your wall or desk; however you do it just be sure to write it down. Scheduling your time allows you to not only scope out what your day looks like, but it also allows you to scope out your week, month, and year. It helps eliminate the tasks that you occasionally “forget” about. I personally use a hand-written calendar, while other members of our team use Google calendar, and calendly apps. Whatever you choose, just make sure to start scheduling.

Strategy #2 – Use The Two-Minute Rule

The two-minute rule is a quick and easy way to reduce procrastination and laziness. The two-minute rule is simply this – any task you are delaying, commit two minutes to starting (spend 120 seconds working on the task without stopping). More often than not, this two minute start will create the momentum needed to complete that

task. Disclaimer – this normally works best for tasks that take <10 minutes to complete, as larger tasks will require more time and energy (which you don’t want to waste on non-top priority tasks). The two-minute rule helps you complete all those nagging items that you have put off on your list for days: emails, phone calls, cleaning your room, etc. Even though this is often used for smaller tasks, it is immensely helpful in reducing the number of tasks you “put off until later” (we all know we have a few).

Strategy #3 – Prioritize And Delegate

The saying goes, “We all get the same 24 hours in a day…”, and it couldn’t be more true. Every individual gets the same 24 hours in a given day, what sets individuals apart is what gets accomplished during those hours. It is important to prioritize your tasks and focus on what matters in the “now”. Prioritizing doesn’t just mean ranking your most important tasks, it also means saying “no” to things that do not promote or distract you from your most important goals. Also, for those of you managing more tasks than you can complete in a given time period, be conscious of where you can cut or delegate your less important tasks. For those tasks – depending on the importance, deadline, and repercussions if not finished – you must delegate and then decide how much time you can or need to oversee the projects. Some may require no oversight, while others may require oversight every few hours or every few days. Whatever the case, prioritize your business tasks, focus on what is most important, and then delegate the rest.

Strategy #4 – Plan Unstructured Time

Health is an essential part of effectively utilizing and managing your time. By setting aside “non-work,” unstructured time, you allow your brain time to relax, take a break, and recover so you can come back and continue doing effective, efficient work. Unstructured time may include taking a nap, going for a walk, getting in a workout, calling a friend, or simply getting away to eat a snack or meal. Whatever it is for you, make sure to set aside unstructured time in order to give your brain and body a quick break to re-energize. To start, try simply adding in five hours of unstructured time during this upcoming week. One hour a day, to step away from work, focus on something else your body needs, and then get back to the grind. This is a quick and easy way to test how quick breaks can positively affect your mood, your productivity, and your overall life.

Strategy #5 – Assess Your Time

The last, but most important step in this process is to look back, examine how you are utilizing your time, and learn how to better use your time in the future. We recommend keeping a diary or spreadsheet of all your tasks in a given day and how much time you spend on each task. For a quick and easy version, you should have five columns labeled as the following:

  1. Task (Sales meeting, proposal, buy a present for mom)
  2. Category (Must do, Should do, Could do, Would do)
  3. Allotted Time (mins)
  4. Actual Time Spent (mins)
  5. Saved Time / Lost Time (number of minutes over or under)

This will help you locate where you are currently spending your time, what tasks are consistently over / under the estimated time, and most importantly, what tasks are draining precious minutes and hours of your day. Oftentimes when individuals do this activity, they find that they lose three, four, or even five hours a day to mindless tasks like social media, TV, or browsing the internet. This will help you to assess where you can cut back on tasks (like the areas stated above) and where you may need to spend more time prioritizing other tasks. Ultimately, at the end of the week you should create a graph showing what tasks you spent the most time on, what categories they fell into (must do, should do, etc.), and how you can better allocate your time to higher priority tasks for future weeks.

Strategy #6 – Find Ways To Automate

In this final category, we encourage you to explore and test some of the best applications and services we have found for automating multiple work streams. These applications may save you one-minute or ten, but since time is the most valuable commodity, it is definitely worth a shot. Also, we would love to hear your feedback on what you think works best, and if you have any other applications that you like better than the ones listed below.

  1. File Sharing: Google Docs
  2. Hosting Remote Meetings: Skype, Join.Me, or Zoom
  3. Invoicing: Invoicely
  4. Project Management: Apptivo
  5. Reposting Blogs: Revive Social
  6. Managing Business Finances: Brightbook
  7. Generating Leads: SalesAutoPilot’s
  8. Social Media: Bufferapp.com
  9. Nurturing Leads: HubSpot CRM
  10. Custom Emails and Email Lists: MailChimp and Thunderbird
  11. Communication: Slack
  12. Social Media Engagement: Hootsuite’s free plan
  13. Scheduling Meetings: Calendly.com

Implementing Time Management Into Your Own Life

The good news is, you just finished the second lesson, and better news, you now have a toolkit of time management techniques that will help you get the most out of your day. The more you begin to realize how much each minute of each hour of each day truly matters, the more you will begin to set yourself apart from the standard crowd. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take time to sit down and enjoy that Sunday night basketball game, family dinner, or movie you’ve been dying to see. There is a time and a place for everything, and the more you start to understand the significance of well-utilized time, the quicker you will begin to build the business of your dreams and create the life you have always hoped for. Success takes time and it takes repetition, and with a sound understanding and practice of time management, you will be one step closer to success. Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t.