When you have the luxury of making your own schedule, it can be all too easy to get distracted and off task - and even more so when you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck. The best way to deal with this is to set some boundaries for yourself and employ a few time management strategies. Below are 6 that I live by each day, and I can say without a doubt that these have made a significant difference in my daily productivity and overall job satisfaction.
1. Get an early start - The majority of successful people that I know usually have much of their day’s work accomplished before mid-afternoon. Why is this? Because they got an early start. When you start tackling your to-do list early in the day, you’re much more likely to complete your tasks. You’re rested, energized, and you know that once you’ve accomplished the day’s agenda, the rest of the time is yours.
2. Make a list - Before you can start working your way down your list, though, you need to create said list. Take a look at your workload, and write down the various things you need to get done. I usually do this at breakfast or the day before.
3. Prioritize - When writing your list, be sure to prioritize each task by give it a number. You can prioritize however you see fit - by order of importance, by deadline, smallest to largest, or vice versa.
4. Schedule - Once your tasks have been listed and prioritized, you can develop a schedule for your day. For example, you might say that between 8:00 and 8:15, you’re going to read and respond to emails. From 8:15 to 9:00, you’re going to work on Task #1. Obviously, these times are just examples, and you’ll need to set a schedule with times that fit each item.
5. Don’t multitask - Many people think multi-tasking equates to time savings, but for me, it results in wasted time. I prefer to focus on one item at a time, starting and completing just that one thing before moving on to the next. Multi-tasking may work for some, but for others it causes more confusion and increases the chances for errors.
6. Take breaks - There is nothing wrong with taking breaks. In fact, be sure to work a few short breaks into your daily schedule when you’re creating it. This gives your brain time to “turn off” and re-energize, so that you can tackle the next task with more focus and efficiency.