Using these five time-management tools will leave you feeling more accomplished at the end of the workday, and should help lighten the load!
The Pomodoro Technique is a method for time management which involves using a timer to break up your work into intervals of 25 minutes followed by regular breaks of 3-5 minutes. After four of these periods, or “pomodoros,” you then take a longer break of 25-30 minutes. The creator of the Pomodoro Technique encourages the use of a physical timer as the act of cranking it up and the ticking sound it makes as it counts down both facilitate constant involvement and awareness of the task at hand, but in the event that you don’t have a physical timer, you can use one of the many apps available that are based on this technique. It is important when using this time management method to clear both your mind and your working space of distractions to put 100% of your focus on the task at hand for the full 25 minute period. Also, be sure to stop what you’re doing and take a short break when you hear the bell, even if you are in the zone.
Batching is the superior alternative to multi-tasking, a term which is actually pretty misleading. Our brains are incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time, when we are “multi-tasking,” what we are really doing is switching quickly from one task to another. Multi-tasking is much less productive in the end because there are inherent costs involved in the switching of tasks and in the setup required for each of them. Though the preparation phase may seem minimal, it certainly adds up, and usually what we end up with is a large number of tasks that are only half-finished. Batching, or the act of completing similar tasks at once, enables us to get things done. When we work on things in groups, there is only one period of setup per task, and because we aren’t switching activities constantly, our brain is able to stay focused.
Templates can be useful in a variety of situations, such as email correspondence, text messages, the writing of proposals, and when answering frequently asked questions. We can save a massive amount of time with templates because we aren’t rewriting what is essentially the same core block of text over and over. Also, we only need to perfect the body of text once, which provides for a much smaller margin of error. Be careful when using templates, however, that everything outlined within it applies to the current recipient. Getting caught in the act might imply to the client that they are only worth the time and effort it took for you to copy and paste the information.
Prioritizing is a great way to make you feel that you have accomplished a considerable amount by the end of the workday. Separating more pressing or urgent tasks from those that are less important and completing one or more of these at a time can go a long way toward feeling accomplished. It’s also helpful to arrange a list of tasks based on their difficulty. Completing these tasks earlier in the day can lighten the load and help ease your overall stress level. On the other hand, getting smaller tasks out of the way first can help build momentum.
Learn to take control of your schedule. Learning how to manage the influx of new tasks as they are added to your plate is key to overall productivity. Rather than addressing each task as it comes in, you should assign each to a specific time in the future as they surface. By taking everything on immediately, you run the risk of leaving the task you were on at the time unfinished. To keep in line with the batching method of doing things, you should set time aside for going through emails and other correspondence. Rather than checking them periodically throughout the day, you should assign a time for emails in the morning and maybe once more sometime after lunch.
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