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Time Management

Management Tips to Increase Your Productivity

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the thing that he can least afford to waste.” –Thomas Edison

While some people are able to power through the day, maintaining focus and accomplishing their goals, time management is an area where most of us tend to struggle. The good news, however, is that being productive doesn’t just “happen” for certain people — it actually involves a set of learnable skills that can be practiced and mastered by anyone.

The number of time management theories and strategies available can be overwhelming, and some are much more realistic than others. So to make your life a bit easier and to save you time, we summarized ten of the most useful tips and techniques into the practical and straightforward list below.

1. Assess How You Spend Your Time

Before you can begin to optimize your time, it’s important to know exactly how and where you “waste” time during the day. Some people find it useful to use a tool like RescueTime to keep a log of how their time is spent. If this doesn’t appeal to you, practice being mindful of your daily activities and notice where your distractions and obstacles lie. Are you wasting time procrastinating on social media sites? Do you get interrupted by requests from coworkers? Do you find your concentration dropping at a certain time of the day? Being aware of where your time is spent will help you better manage it.

2. Create To-Do Lists

Empty the contents of your brain by jotting down everything you need to get done, no matter how big or small, including emails, phone calls, projects, ideas, appointments, and errands. If you have large tasks on the list, break them down into smaller, more manageable step-by-step goals. By creating a tangible list, you’ll free your mind from the burden of trying to remember, so that you can focus on what needs to get done in the present moment.

3. Prioritize Lists

Once you’ve created a list, it’s time to prioritize. Ask yourself which tasks are most important and decide on the best order for completing them.

One simple, but effective tactic is to divide your list into “must do,” “should do,” and “could do” items.

Another method is to categorize items in terms of their urgency and importance. This can be done using a four grid system, like the one below:

Tasks that are both urgent and important will get top priority, but going forward, the aim is to reduce the amount of tasks that fall into that category. As you take control of your schedule, you should have more time to focus on non-urgent but important tasks, and in the long run you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood that important tasks will become urgent.

4. Schedule Time

Once you have prioritized your list, you need to estimate how much time each task will take and create a schedule for when you’re going to tackle them. Estimating the time needed for each task might sound like a fairly straightforward exercise, but it’s actually an area in which most of us falter. Overall, we tend to overestimate the time needed for short tasks and underestimate the time needed for long tasks, a phenomenon known as “planning fallacy.” And it turns out that our poor scheduling is sometimes driven more from a fear of failure than an inability to estimate the time we need. For example, if we wait until the last minute to begin a task, we are faced with the problem of not having enough time to do it well. However, we’re also provided with a convenient excuse and can blame our failure on “lack of time” rather than on ourselves. This psychological theory is known as “self-handicapping.”

When it comes to choosing times to complete tasks, be aware of how your energy levels change throughout the day and plan accordingly. Aim to tackle challenging tasks when your energy is at its highest, which for many of us is first thing in the morning. Save your more routine tasks for later in the day, when you’re more likely to become tired and distracted.

5. Limit Email Time

The volume of emails we receive can often dictate and dominate large portions of our day. Despite our best intentions, checking our inboxes can completely sidetrack our plans and divert time and attention away from our schedules. To combat this, designate specific periods of the day to your email. To use this time as effectively as possible, you might find it useful to try Donaldson Feilder’s 4 D’s of decision making:

  • Delete: Half of the emails you get can probably be deleted.

  • Do: If the email is urgent or can be completed quickly.

  • Delegate: If the email can be better dealt with by someone else.

  • Defer: Set aside time at a later date for emails that require longer action.

6. Practice Saying “No”

Most of us have a desire to be liked and to be seen as a “good person,” which can often translate into saying “yes” in an effort to please. However, if requests are inconsistent with your priorities and goals, there’s a lot to be said for the power of saying “no.” And it doesn’t have to be done in a rude or uncooperative manner — simply explain your reasons for opting out and offer a helpful, alternative solution. Setting Boundaries.

7. Incorporate Breaks into Your Day

With heavy workloads, we often feel pressure to power through the day, forgoing lunch and working long hours in order to get as much done as possible. In reality, however, working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean working more productively. Research repeatedly shows that our brains can only focus for a limited amount of time and they require regular breaks to re-energize. That means you’ll be far more productive if you work in repeated short bursts of concentration rather than one long, sustained session. Go barefoot outside, Do some relaxing breathwork, A few yoga stretches, or a few minutes of mindful meditation. The important thing is to take a physical and mental break from your work and give your brain the chance to rest and recharge.

8. Reward Yourself

When you’ve ticked an item off your list and made some progress towards your goal, don’t forget to reward yourself. This might be as simple as having a short coffee break, or it may involve going to the spa for some self-care. We all need incentives to keep ourselves motivated, and looking forward to a reward usually makes it easier to stay on track. Whether you incorporate all or some of these tips into your routine, we hope they help you to manage your time more effectively and make your life a little bit easier.

Many Blessings,


Tammy P. Drummond-Rowland, RN HN, Nurse Coach


Life Coaching


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