With so many distractions in our lives, having some ways to effectively manage your time can free up a lot of space for you.
We only have so many hours in the day, some more than others. So why not use these hours effectively.
This post shares some strategies I use in my own business and share with my clients to help stay focused on the most important tasks each day.
1. Create a distraction free environment
The first place to start is to create a distraction free environment.
What do I mean by that?
Simply turn off your notifications.
Constant notifications can make our brains jump into “to-do” mode every time it hears the notification, sees a banner and even sees that red dot!
Once we get distracted we’re using up unnecessary energy to get back to the task at hand, rather than keeping that energy within and focused.
So turning off notifications is the first step to keep your energy contained.
This means all notifications on your phone, your computer including email, social media, text messages, even phone calls.
If you can’t or won’t turn them off permanently, then at least assign blocks of time throughout the day that you do. Give yourself that gift of focused attention on you and not jumping to everyone else’s needs.
These blocks of time are covered in tip three below!
I’m sure you’ve experienced a time (or more than once) that you’re in the middle of something – a Facebook or Instagram notification pops up and there you go, down that rabbit hole and before you know it, an hour has gone by.
2. Limit your time on email and social
Do you have a habit of checking your phone, email and social media as soon as you start your work day? Or worse, as soon as you wake up??
If you do, then this tip may challenge you initially.
What I would like to suggest is to only check your email and social media two times a day. Three max if that’s too difficult for you.
And not before you have done your most important thing first. (if you haven’t read the fantastic book by Brian Tracy – Eat That Frog, I highly recommend it).
This could take some training, especially if you are used to having email, and social media open constantly.
My challenge for you is to try this for at least 1 day and see the positive impact it makes and how much more you can get done.
And if you’ve already turned your notifications off as suggested in tip 1, you won’t need to check – right!
It’s like training a muscle, you’ll get used to it over time.
3. Use a timer
The Pomodoro timer is a popular productivity technique created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo.
The premise behind this technique is to set a timer for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break. In the 25 minute time frame, your focus is purely on one major task.
If you’ve adopted the first two strategies of turning notifications off and limiting your time on email and social media, then you’re already off to a great start with this strategy.
I adapted the pomodoro technique slightly because I found I was more productive setting the timer for 50 minutes and taking a 10 minute break in between.
Choose a schedule that works best for you.
After my morning routine, I will do two of these pomodoros.
What this means is that I don’t open my email, check my social or phone messages until I have spent at least the first 2 hours of my work day in focused mode.
Concentrate all your things on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
~ Alexander Graham Bell
I’ve been using this technique successfully in my businesses for many, many years and it still surprises me how much I can get through in the first two hours of my day.
A number of my clients have been using this successfully too and I love hearing how much they’ve got through in their work week.
Of course, this doesn’t always work out perfectly.
There are some days that I will open my email if I’m expecting something urgent that I know I need to attend to.
This doesn’t happen often as setting boundaries is a priority of mine.
However when it does, I find myself down that rabbit hole. Responding to every email in my inbox regardless of how urgent it is.
Not just the one email that I originally intended to respond to.
So when this happens, it’s a great reminder to me how easy it is to get side-tracked. And how easily it affects my productivity.
4. Take regular breaks
This fits nicely with the previous tip of using a timer.
Between each of the timed intervals, whether it’s 25 minutes, 50 minutes, or somewhere in between, once that timer goes off, step away from whatever you’re doing.
These short breaks could involve some deep breathing, yoga, stretching, filling up your glass of water, making a cuppa.
If you can get outside in nature, sitting in the sun, stretching, and standing barefoot on the grass.
I also recommend extending these breaks for longer periods.
Digital free days on the weekend, taking a 3 day weekend once a month. Taking a week off once a quarter.
Some of these time management strategies can take a bit of getting used to.
And of course, everyone’s lives are different with different responsibilities. We may have children, elderly parents and other people who depend on us.
Adapt these tips to manage your time in the way that works best for you.
If you need to keep your phone on – use the ‘do not disturb’ feature and select the one or two people that you will take calls or messages from.
Maybe you see clients first thing in the morning. In this case, find a more suitable time for your ‘pomodoro’ time.
Even if you adopt one or two of these strategies and make them fit in with your lifestyle and commitments, I’m sure you’ll notice an improvement in your time management.
What comes up for you with these suggestions and which ones will you adopt to help manage your time?
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