Despite being motivated and ready to make big changes in life, we often find ourselves struggling with the simplest of tasks. And it isn’t necessarily procrastination that is our problem, nor it is the fear of taking action towards our dreams.
Nope, sometimes the problem lies closer to the surface than we could imagine. The problem is in time management.
Each year of our life has only 365 days (yes-yes, I am aware of leap years), and unfortunately, nobody in this world gets any younger. While someone may have plenty of free time on their hands, the people that want to succeed will understand the true nature of time.
They see the real value of the hours by which they live, and that a whole year can pass in the blink of an eye. As a consequence, their success and productivity is greatly dependent on efficient time management.
Fortunately, time management is something that each one of us can master with ease if we only wish to. All there is to being productive is knowing some of the most fundamental time management tips and being able to put them into practice. Below, I will share a list of tips that I have found to be the most effective in boosting productivity. The beauty of this list is that you can begin implementing it as you are reading this post.
1. Make your day longer.
To those of you who love to sleep until noon, this may be the hardest tip of all. This is also probably the most important of them.
Our day has only so many hours, and the longer we sleep, the fewer hours we have left to spend on achieving. Therefore, the most logical solution would be to make the day as long as possible.
To some of you, this may mean sleeping only 8 hours a day, and to some of you, it may mean sleeping 6 hours a day. This depends on how much you can take. You have to experiment and find the optimal amount that you can allow yourself to sleep without compromising your health.
2. Shifting your day towards the morning.
On days that are free, many of us prefer to go to bed late at night and to get up as late as possible. What I noticed to be extremely effective, is to shift your day towards the earlier hours. In practice, this means going to bed as early as possible, and waking up as early as possible.
For the majority of us, our thoughts in the morning feel more “fresh”, and our capacity to think is larger as well. You have probably noticed that the darker and closer to the night it gets, the lazier we become, and the cozier we want to get.
To fix this, try going to bed early enough. This requires a little bit of getting used to but is worth it. Throughout most of the week, I wake up as early as 4 in the morning. And while you don’t have to wake up that early, it feels incredible to accomplish so many things by the time others are just getting out of bed!
3. Ritualised isolation.
Have you ever been distracted by phone calls, emails or social media messages while in the middle of an important task? I am most definitely sure that you have! This type of distraction is especially dangerous when we are immersed in something – when we are in the flow state.
Such a distraction can remove us from that state, to which we may not be able to return afterwards. Not only is this extremely annoying, but it also takes away the opportunity of writing the perfect essay, creating our best artwork, speech, etc.
Make sure you turn off all electronic devices. If you know that someone may need you while you work, tell them about your plans beforehand. Tell them that you will be busy and that you will call them back once you are finished. Getting yourself isolated from the outer world before working on anything is extremely important, and therefore should become ritualised.
4. Setting a timer.
When I know that I want to be productive, I always set a timer. I don’t know what exactly it is about our psychology, but whenever we create limitations for ourselves, things tend to get real.
Once you have isolated yourself from external distractors, set a time frame for yourself. What I have found to be most effective is 50 minutes of work, followed by 10 minutes of break time.
You can repeat this as many times as you want, but make sure you do exactly as you promise yourself, which in this case is 50 minutes of working in a very concentrated manner, and then, regardless of circumstances, having that 10-minute break. Try this, and you will notice how the quality of your work will soar through the roof!
5. Planning in advance and setting goals.
Another very effective time management technique is to plan your week in advance and to set realistic goals.
What I do is: I sit down, I mark down all of the 7 days of that following week, and I begin spreading amongst them my most important tasks. Additionally, I make goals that I want to achieve by the end of that week.
What is great about this technique is that by learning to plan well in advance, I can foresee the busy-ness of my schedule. This allows me to prioritise, and to set goals that are realistic and relevant. You don’t want to be setting goals that are unattainable and that will cause you to doubt your overall progress. On the contrary, this is an amazing approach that helps you to move forward, and will help you see yourself grow and prosper.
Although it usually isn’t possible or exciting to know what your entire next week is going to be like, you should plan at least the following day. And yes, make mini goals for that day too. This ensures that it is going to be productive.
This relates to the previous tip but is nevertheless important enough to stand on its own.
Prioritising not only helps you to do the most important tasks first but helps you understand where in life you are heading towards. Being able to set your priorities straight is something you must be able to do if you are planning to make it “big.” You cannot be successful while being unsure of what you want from life.
Therefore, have a list of things to do. Rate them from 1 to 5, and spread them out in your week as mentioned in the previous tip. When you do this on a daily basis, you will notice yourself becoming better at making meaningful decisions at the right place and the right time.
7. Quality over quantity.
Don’t try to multitask on a bunch of different things. The goal is not to succeed in everything. The goal is to succeed at least in one thing. As Bruce Lee said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
In the long run, it is so much more important to complete something, as opposed to starting a few different things and not being able to accomplish them. Moreover, this way you make sure you don’t compromise the quality of your work. And in the case that you do have to take a pause, it is going to be so much easier to continue from where you left off. Spreading your energy across many tasks reduces your focus.
8. Get a whiteboard.
Get a whiteboard with markers to write down all your goals, your vision. Write down tomorrow’s goals, this week’s, next week’s, this year’s, etc. A board that you can always look at will keep you aware and accountable of your progress. When we write our goals down, we have a much higher chance of taking action on them, as opposed to just saying them out loud. Make sure you always have something at hand to which you can write down your thoughts and ideas. You don’t want to miss out on something great just because you forgot about it. You can thank me for this one later.
9. Go for a walk.
At first glance, you’d think going for a walk will take away from your productivity time, but don’t be misled. Going for a walk, especially during breaks, is an extremely efficient way to regain your energy. While walking and breathing fresh air, you allow for new thoughts and ideas to pop into your mind. As you walk and meditate on various subjects, your mind slowly lets go of the pressure that has accumulated during work time, while simultaneously allowing your creativity to expand.
10. Listening to audiobooks.
While you are on your walk, on the bus, in the gym, or doing anything else that doesn’t involve much thinking, make use of that time! I always either have an audiobook on my mobile phone, or some motivational content from YouTube bookmarked and ready for consumption.
This tip allows you to double or even triple your efficiency, causing a major leap in productivity.
11. Automation software.
There is a ton of software out there that can help you manage your time efficiently. Depending on what you want, you can find free or paid services that can take your progress to a different level.
Either way, it is extremely handy not having to worry about keeping track of time, or having your work synchronised across all of your devices and ready to be used at any given moment of life. By having some software taking care of the basic tasks, you can leverage yourself and focus on the things that do matter!
12. Recondition your mind for success!
Just as in my life, most of you have probably been planted with a plethora of limiting beliefs. We were taught that life is extremely difficult and that becoming super wealthy and super successful is close to impossible.
Well, as it turns out, these kinds of psychological barriers greatly hinder our development (Captain Obvious here!). But as soon as you can understand that anything is possible, you will become motivated, devoted, optimistic, and, knowing that your goals are real, you will be able to work harder, longer, and with endless enthusiasm.
Being able to recondition your mind is extremely important. Every day, before falling asleep, I spend a few minutes reminding myself that:
- I am extremely thankful for this day.
- I have learned a lot today – what were those things?
- I have achieved a lot today – what were those things?
- I am extremely excited for tomorrow because tomorrow I will learn and achieve even more.
- I have a purpose; I have a goal.
- Every day I get closer to my goals.
- Every day I cherish like it is my last.
You can add whatever you want to that list, but you have to make sure that you are consistent with this every single day. By practicing it, you synchronise your mind with these beliefs, and you condition yourself to believe these statements.
The last things that you say before falling asleep should also be the first thing you remember when waking up. Experiments show that this is often the case. This will motivate you every morning even more, and will push you into being more productive, and into managing your time more effectively. A positive mindset is key, my friends.
Remember, our time on this planet is limited. To achieve, you must not only find a passion, but make time for it. By applying the given time-management tips, you will be able to significantly change your life. Use them and succeed!