With so many hours in one day, how do we make sure that we stay productive? How can we organize ourselves to be more efficient?
Time management really is a complex topic, and there are a lot of methods we can try in order to complete our tasks.
Kanban, Sprint, OKR, or GTD - these are but a few keywords that are supposed to help us keep track of our private, and work-life. How can we become masters of our own productivity?
If no one is managing you, you can easily be overwhelmed by the things you have to do and you'll get stuck at some point.
Over the years, I realized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to all problems. What works for you might not work for others. What works for an individual might not work for a whole team, and vice versa.
I'll just write down the way I personally work, and what I have discovered.. Which, by the way, can also change at any given time.
Before choosing a way of creating your own workflow, there is something more important than having the best system.
1. Emotions – if you feel good, you are more productive; likewise, if you feel bad, you are less productive.
2. Focus – breaking down your main goals dealing with one task at a time can help you boost efficiency. Keeping yourself away from distractions increases productivity and you are more likely to complete more tasks.
3. Flow – if you ever manage to get a good flow, then you know how powerful it is. Create your own rhythm so you know what to do step after step.
4. The Why – if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, everything else falls into place and becomes easier.
Of course, everything is more or less connected. Although this is not the main topic. For now, it is important to know that whatever system you have, those points are even more important.
The good thing is that a good system can help you change your behavior & state of mind. The effects of clutter can be mental, so having a good system can help you enter a positive loop. Something good creates something good, and so on...
“ The bad news is time flies . The good news is , you’re the pilot . ” - Michael altahuler
Step 1. Set Goals
It all starts with a Goal, whether big or small. If we don't understand the Goal, you don't understand the Why. Then, every task becomes meaningless. So, it's important to Create goals.
If you have many Goals in Life, you can write them all down. But you should never focus on too many goals at the same time. Focus is the Key.
Step 1.1: Define your Goal first. When? What? Why?
Step 1.2: Create Projects. How can you accomplish your Goal?
Step 1.3: Create Tasks. What Actions can you do to finish the project?
One of the most important and underrated things is preparation before you do the actual work. This might take time so make sure to plan your planning.
Again: schedule a day in a week where you plan your whole week in advance. Alwasys move from the goal, then to the project, then to the task.
You could ask the following questions...
I personally use a mix of OKRs and GTD.
Here a summary of what OKR means:
Here what GTD means:
1.) Are the projects leading me to the goal? If I have tried these projects
but they haven't worked, should I consider starting new projects?
So let's say my goal is to get 1 new client.
2.) How much do I have to do to reach the goal? What should I do?
So if my goal is to get 1 client, and based on my experience I know the chances of getting one client are 1-3 %, I have to call 100 companies to get one client. So based on that I can do a breakdown.
3.) What is the very first step to getting something done?
So, if my goal is to get 1 client and one of my projects says I have to reach out to 100 clients. I can split it down even further. The very first thing could be researching who could be the client.
The first step could be writing a sales script or getting all the phone numbers. Task 2 could be calling them. Task 3 sending e-mails or proposals etc. etc.
Of course, this was just a simple example. The whole point is we have to plan from top to bottom and work from the bottom to reach the top.
Finish your most essential tasks first.
2. Create Blocks
Planning again. The more time we spend on it the more time we will save at the end of the week. Not only that but with the help of working blocks, we can try to stay within the same frame. So instead of switching from task to task which consumes a lot of mental energy, we group our task together into bigger blocks. Instead of answering every notification or e-mail every 2 mins, we prepare time blocks where we answer all the e-mails or all the notifications at the same time. If we do that we can try to establish a weekly routine. Every routine we create will also help us save some more mental energy. My Time Block looks like this
I have the most energy on Monday. Therefore I do the hardest things on a Monday. I prepare the projects; I distribute them, I do some of the harder tasks on my list. I give feedback on major projects. I answer non-urgent e-mails.
Friday is where I feel working on hard tasks that aren't effective anymore. Therefore I put some of the lighter tasks like digital cleaning e.g. reducing my inbox to zero. I prepare the following week or I spend some time educating myself.
This will help us to not constantly switch between tasks.
Include it all. For every task on the list, be sure to add as much information as possible so you can get the job done. Like if the task needs you to call someone, quickly add their phone number on the list to save time & effort looking for it later.
The average worker actually checks their email 30 times an hour The average worker basically checks their smartphone 150 times a day The average worker’s length of uninterrupted focus is roughly around eight minutes.
And the mental cost of “ switch tasking ” is severe. Not only is wasted time but in the amount of mental energy required to get back on track. ( this’s how you can spend eight hours staring.
If you wait until you’ve time then there’s no way on earth that those projects will be completed, you must make time.
Ask for commitment . & don’t simply ask for it. Confirm it.
Make sure that your team member fully understands the role that this task plays in reference to the big goals you want to achieve.
Also please ensure that he or she understands the consequences of not being able to deliver the expected results.
Take five minutes after each call & activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what's missing in your next call or activity?
Practice not answering the phone just because it's ringing & emails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Also please don't instantly give people your attention unless it's absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email & return phone calls
“ Remember that time is money. ” – Benjamin Franklin
Note down everything that’s potentially relevant to your activities, whatever its subjects, degree of urgency, & importance might be. This will most likely include phone calls, emails, newspaper articles, suggestions from your coworkers, memories, & personal ideas. Use one of the tools of extended cognition to collect all of this information. Notebook or electronic organizer will do the trick here. We’ll call this your In - basket.
However, collecting is just the first part of this phase. You’ll have to select what’s of value for you by emptying the In - basket regularly. Deciding what to do with the gathered information will give you control over the collected materials. To be really efficient you’ll have to process & organize the items one by one.
The weekly review should be an in-depth analysis of your Applicative files: In - basket, Calendar, Action list, Projects, Project plan, Waiting for, & Maybe. It’s especially important to get an overview of what you need to do in the coming time period. Again, this will give you a feeling of control. This control, in addition, results in keeping all of your files up - to - date. This will include even the most tedious & seemingly unimportant work, such as cleaning out your email or your desk.
Always keep your desktop and work station clean, clear, & free. Don’t use it as a storage space. Instead, use the drawers or get a box or other storage solutions for your files and other important work materials .