10 Time Management Skills to Increase Productivity

These 10 time management skills will increase your productivity and reduce your stress. Are you busy, missing deadlines, feeling overwhelmed and just don't know what to do! Do you feel that you have too many tasks but not enough time to get them done?

The trick is to organize your tasks so that you can get more done each day. Developing time management skills is like developing a new habit, and it takes time to develop. Try these skills for a few weeks to see if they can help you.

Below are 10 time management skills that that increase your productivity.

1. Make lists

Brian Tracey says that just by creating a list you can become 25% more efficient. If you haven't made lists before then a great way to start is by creating a daily to-do list.

But the next step to jumpstart your time management to the next level is to consider constructing a master to do list of all the things that you have to do in the near-term horizon. When you have this list then schedule the most important ones into your weekly planner the Friday before.

2. Prioritize Work

Do you feel that you have too much to do an not enough time? If so, then you need to prioritize your work.

While you can do the ABC method of prioritization from your to do list I recommend that you practice the Pareto rule when it comes to prioritization. Look at your current list of actions and activities and choose the top 20% of them. These are those activities that give you your highest return for your time. Focus your energy on these activities.

3. Know your prime time

Do you know when you work best? Is it in the morning, just after lunch, or at the end of the day? For most people their prime time is about 3 hours after they wake up. Make sure that you schedule your most vital activities in this time of day. Don't let the unimportant tasks take up this precious time.

Many of the most successful people have one thing in common, they know when they work best and they plan their day accordingly. Many of these people know they are fresh and clear headed in the morning and that this is best for creativity, strategy, thinking, and moving forward on their goals. As the day moves on their energy levels wane which affects their productivity. Knowing this they schedule their less important activities to match the lower energy level.

time management skills

4. Have a system

If your system involves you remembering all of your actions that you have to do then you are putting yourself under undue stress....and your brain could be better utilized rather than just trying to remember stuff. Your system needs to be able to

  • collect all of your actions,
  • give you a way that you can schedule them,
  • and be very visual.

Before you invest in a system know which one is best suited to you first. I write a review of some different systems such as Franklin Covey Planners or GTD and the type of people that these will suit.

5. Employ a program to firewall your attention and improve time management skills

With so many distractions and possibilities in your work life, it's easy to get scattered. Those 2 minutes checks on social media, or the quick email to Aunt Mildred can really add up and eat into your day.

One of the first things to deal with distractions and interruptions is to understand your daily habits so you can focus and be more productive. For this I like using Rescue Time to firewall my attention.

I can graph how I use my time and this software even sends me a weekly report on email so that I can see how much time was productive.

6. Delegate more

Delegating is one of the most talked about, yet underutilized time management skills. Many people often talk about the advantages of delegating, but when I ask them "Do you delegate tasks?" or "Do you delegate work?" they often reply with "but, in my case..."

There appears to be resistance to delegate tasks or work. But knowing how to delegate is an important time management skill that does two things.

  1. Effective delegation frees up your time for more important tasks. If you can delegate tasks or delegate work that is of a lessor priority then you can remain focused on your top priorities.
  2. Delegation develops the skills and potential of the people around you. By learning how to delegate you can use delegation as a training opportunity.

When deciding what to delegate, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there tasks that others can learn from and perhaps do more efficiently/cost effective?
  • Do you dislike the task that you are considering to delegate?
  • Is the task important to you and your goals?

If you answered an overwhelming "Yes" to the first two questions and "No" to the last question, then this task could be a likely candidate for delegation.

7. Avoid procrastination at all costs

Do you find yourself putting off tasks, over and over? Do you spend your time on low priority tasks because you enjoy them more?

Procrastination is a productivity killer and robs you of your potential. Many of us procrastinate to some extent - but when procrastination increases stress and affects your work then it is time to do something about it.

Often with any type of habit or foible, it can be useful to identify the causes. There are many causes of procrastination, from putting off unpleasant tasks, to shifting priorities and unclear goals. Knowing why you procrastinate can help to tailor a solution for overcoming procrastination.

8. Use tools to leverage your time

Time is the most democratically distributable resource on earth. Every person has the same amount of time available to them, whether rich, poor, idle, or industrious. But how much is your time worth?

If you earn $50k per year then your time is 10c per minute. If you make $100k per year then you make 20c per minute. Now I am talking about when you are sleeping, eating, working, or playing.

The question is how can you increase the value that you bring to each moment. If you are not happy with the value that you bring to each moment then you need to consider using time management tools to leverage your time.

9. Set up Deadlines

There are two things to note about deadlines:

  1. Activity fills the time that you give it. So if you set a deadline for 2 weeks complete task 'A' then it will likely take 2 weeks to do the task. For example, many workplaces that I spend time in set a meeting to be the default 1 hour and the meeting expands to fill this time. However, when they challenge the meeting time and to a default of 30 mins they still cover the same content. So set a realistic schedule to complete tasks and ask often is there a way that I can reduce this.
  2. Set due dates before they are actually due. Think about the tasks that you have to do and set a realistic deadline to do it. Set the deadline in your planner for a few days before it is actually due and challenge yourself to meet this deadline.

Setting a deadline is an important time management skill to boost commitment and overcome procrastination.

10. Focus on the task at hand

Multitasking on two activities that require mental effort hampers your performance on both of these activities. For example, if you are on the phone talking to a client while emailing another client then you are much more likely to hamper your productivity. Multitasking does three things:

  1. It increases your stress
  2. It takes longer to get things done
  3. You are more likely to make an error when multitasking.

Try the following activity (about 7 minutes into the video) to see the impact of multitasking on you

If you liked these time management skills then you may also like personal time management.

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