With so much to do, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Whether at home or at work, poor time management causes a lack of productivity. Therefore, finding better ways to handle your tasks and your time is essential.
When you manage each day effectively, you can fit each task into an appropriate timeslot. You’ll experience less anxiety and stress. You’ll also be able to complete each task to the best of your ability. As a result, you’ll achieve your personal best.
Here are some of the best time management strategies that will lead to a productive day, every day.
The “2-Minute Rule”
The “2-minute rule” can make an enormous difference in your life. This is especially the case if you tend to procrastinate. The concept is that if you’ve got a task that could be completed in 2 minutes, do it immediately.
This applies to all kinds of chores. Whether you’ve got emails to answer, dishes to wash or the garbage to take out, the 2-minute rule applies. It’s a time management strategy that dramatically improves your productivity. You’ll eliminate procrastination and accomplish more every day.
How does the 2-minute rule work?
Think about the tasks that you’re procrastinating on now. Are they actually hard to do? Do you have the necessary skills to get them done? Are you just avoiding embarking on them for some reason? Are you just too lazy to complete them? The 2-minute rule says if you could do it in under two minutes, do it straight away.
Review your to-do list now. How many of those tasks could be completed in two minutes or less? Cleaning your desk? Making a phone call? Putting the laundry in the machine? Get them done now!
Of course, not every goal can be completed in under two minutes. Yet all goals can be begun in under two minutes. Let’s look at the science of how this works. According to Isaac Newton objects at rest stay at rest.
Objects in motion stay in motion. That means once you begin a task it’s easier to carry on with it. The hardest part is simply getting started. So, if you need to write a report, write a single sentence. It’ll take two minutes, but it could start you off and you’ll write for an hour.
The key element of the 2-minute rule is that it isn’t necessarily about results. Instead, it’s about the process. It focuses on taking action and allowing the process to continue from there. Essentially, the 2-minute rule is about taking action consistently rather than about performance. Try it for yourself and see if it revolutionizes the way you get things done.
Forget the Myth of Multi-Tasking
We often think that multi-tasking is the way forward. After all, surely doing more should mean that we get more done. However, it doesn’t always work that way.
The brain isn’t actually wired for multi-tasking. Research shows that multitasking can actually reduce your productivity by up to 40 percent. That’s a significant drop. If you must toggle between several tasks, your focus is limited. Your working memory is hampered. You also have more mental fatigue and increased stress. None of this is conducive to higher productivity levels.
You can boost your productivity by instead focusing on a single task at a time. If you have a report to write, get on with it. Don’t try to read emails or take calls at the same time. A sole focus allows you to get more done more effectively. As a result, you can achieve your personal best with each task you tackle.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for multi-tasking. If you have low-level tasks that need to be accomplished, you can do them together. For example, imagine you need to call your mother and iron some shirts. You could put her on speakerphone while you work – simple!
Remember, though, this only works with tasks that require minimal concentration. For any job which needs extra focus to get it right, single-tasking is the way forward.
Take a Break Regularly
It seems counterintuitive to take a break when there’s work to be done. However, taking regular breaks helps to boost your memory, creativity, and concentration.
If you work continuously for extended periods of time, you’ll experience more stress. You’ll also become more exhausted and won’t be able to achieve your personal best. Taking frequent breaks helps to refuel and refresh your mind. This allows you to maximize your efficiency.
Taking a break means that you don’t always have to be rushing around and busy. That’s not the best way to be productive. You are allowed to say no to certain tasks. If you don’t have time to take on another job, say so. You aren’t always obliged to take on things that are unimportant or that you don’t want to do. It’s sometimes hard to say no. But if you always say yes, you can’t progress with tasks that are important. Bear this in mind before you take on new jobs.
Sometimes, you also have to give up on a job. Again, this is counterintuitive, especially when you want to achieve your personal best. However, if the task you’re undertaking is going nowhere, it’s sometimes best to cut it off immediately.
There’s little point in completing something just for the sake of it. While you should always persevere with tasks, if you’ve hit a brick wall, it could be time to give up. If you do have to give up on a job, don’t waste time on guilt. Move on to the next task and don’t dwell on it.
Also, if you’re too physically or mentally tired, it’s important to take time out. You can’t do your best work if you’re exhausted. There’s no point in pushing yourself past the breaking point. Have a good rest instead. Go to bed early. Have some leisure time. Even take a vacation. This will prevent a productivity slump and will give you more momentum on your return.
Use the Commute
If you commute to work, that’s time you could be spending on other things. Commuting can be a terrible waste of time. Whether you drive or take the bus or train, there are things you could do at the same time.
The daily commute, all too often, is spent browsing social media or listening to music. If you’re serious about boosting your productivity, there are many other tasks you should focus on instead. If you’re driving, you could use a hands-free kit to make important phone calls.
Alternatively, you could listen to improving podcasts. If you’re taking a bus or train, you could read an educational book or complete paperwork. You could even answer emails or plan the next day’s tasks. Don’t waste this precious time.
You could even try to reduce your commuting time so you can stay productive at home or at work. Take a shorter route. Take a cab rather than walking. Work from home if possible. Use a carpool instead of taking a long bus ride. The less time you spend on the move, the more time you can spend on important tasks. Whether those tasks are at home or in the workplace, you can work more effectively with extra time to spare.
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