17 Time Management Tips (that actually Work) 2019
What follows are the tips and actions of consistently high achievers.
Good time management is NOT about working longer hours, but working to your maximum effectiveness in the time you have available!
PLEASE NOTE: Being productive is simply a CHOICE and an ongoing process.
MOST INDIVIDUALS, fall well short of their potential.
Follow these tips and you WON’T have to.
Develop a true passion and original enthusiasm for your work, if you can’t do that, you’re doing the WRONG THING!
Now would be a good time for you to ask yourself some serious questions, and also begin looking for a job or profession which you can develop a deep and lasting passion for.
There are no substitutes for these two powerful virtues.
Not only will doing something you love make you more productive, but it will also make you become a far happier and more fulfilled individual.
Your passion for your job or profession will always shine through, and be very evident to users of your product or service.
Those successful individuals at the top of their profession and field are generally (though not always) the ones who also possess the MOST passion and enthusiasm.
Start your day EARLY and promptly ready to begin work immediately.
Remember the old saying:
There is a lot of wisdom in that proverb.
Generally, the most productive and most financially successful individuals are the ones who start their day EARLY.
They get 2 or 3 additional hours work completed before everyone else even thinks about starting.
Read the two above paragraphs AGAIN!
For most of the year, except the two darkest months, I get started at 5 am and as a result, I’m usually finished for the day by 11 am.
I can usually achieve three times more in just six hours focused work, than most individuals can achieve in 10 hours.
I’m not sharing this to boast, or tell you how good I am, but rather, what with the right focus can be achieved.
This is a fact that I am extremely PROUD of.
I am laser focused and know exactly what I have to achieve because I have planned what I’m doing today over the past few days.
Everything is scheduled, and my today’s to-do list is right by my side, so I don’t have the opportunity to deviate.
However, even though I get out of bed at approximately 4.30 am, I’m soon showered, dressed and prepared, and quickly READY to begin with a coffee at my side, and all set to get started promptly at 5 am.
I want to get the very most I can out of my day, and I begrudge wasting a moment.
I always have a number of tasks which need to be completed before midday, and I generally start by writing because I’m at my best and most creative first thing in the morning.
I generally put a kitchen timer on for every 20 minutes, and when it goes off, I change my activity for 5 to 10 minutes.
This gives me lots of starts and finishes, and generally, my task NEVER becomes boring.
Other tasks I have on my list, may be quite simple and take just a few minutes to achieve, these I do in the short breaks.
Bigger tasks obviously take longer to complete, sometimes days and even weeks, so I just keep working at them until they finished.
Your first task of the day should be to read and remind yourself of your goals and objectives, ESPECIALLY what you have planned for completion today.
I have my today’s tasks already written out in order of priority close at hand so I can see them and tick them off as they’re completed.
If any adjustments need to be made, I do this before I get started.
I also read and remind myself of my bigger long-term goals and objectives, which are generally projects that take considerably longer than a day to bring to fruition.
By spending a little time reading my goals and objectives in the morning, it keeps them at the VERY forefront of my mind, and ensures that I am gradually getting closer to achieving them EVERY day!
You may have heard it said that we move towards what we think about the most.
Don’t take my word for it, just try out this simple technique for yourself and watch the magic begin to happen.
Another big benefit of setting goals and then reading my goals on a daily basis is that you become really ENTHUSIASTIC about achieving them.
Stay Laser focused on the task at hand.
Sometimes, new important actions become evident as you work your way through your day.
However, such deviations must be planned and scheduled as a future objective, otherwise, you will become less disciplined and unfocused about getting the most out of your day.
All of these tips and actions in this article tend to feed and reinforce one another.
They are CONGRUENT, and they are all leading me to the same bigger goal or objective.
Initially, a certain amount of self-discipline is required.
Although, after a while, the process of staying focused will become well-developed habits which you know longer have to think about.
Get enough sleep!
If you’re still tired in the morning, or find it hard to get up, you’re either not sleeping for LONG enough.
Or, and more likely, you’re not sleeping very well, and this problem must be addressed ASAP!
Getting adequate sleep is ESSENTIAL if you’re going to work to your full potential.
We all need different amounts of sleep, and our requirements may change at different times in our life, and season of the year.
I am writing this on 5 January, mid-winter, and I feel I need more sleep at this dark time of the year than I do when it is lighter.
Although you may be different, in the winter, I feel I need 8 or 9 hours of sleep, although on the opposite side of the year I easily get by with just 6 or 7 hours.
This means that in the winter, and to be ready to start working at 5 am, I need to go to bed around 8 pm.
Just remember, you can’t burn a candle at both ends!
In other words: go to bed as early as necessary.
Then generally, after eight hours sleep or so, I’m rested and starting to wake up naturally.
Naturally, is ALWAYS the very best way of waking up, and far better than being rudely awoken by an invasive alarm.
In fact, the only alarm I really enjoy is the Cockrell on the farm a few hundred yards away.
In the other nine lighter months of the year, I generally don’t retire to my bed until 10 pm or so.
I am a great believer in the old saying:
As for the quality of sleep:
I have found a few things dramatically detract from and reduce my depth of sleep.
Alcohol is certainly one of these inhibitors.
After a few glasses of wine, I certainly go to sleep quickly.
However, then I am more likely to wake up and experience a far lighter and restless sleep for the remainder of the night, which is not good.
For that reason, I only drink alcohol on the weekends, and even then, only in moderation.
Also, eating too late in the evening generally provides me with less than perfect sleep.
I suppose because I am digesting, I generate heat and feel as if I am too hot generally.
For that reason, my objective is to have finished eating by 6 pm at the latest.
Even if we go out for a meal, we generally choose restaurants that are open late afternoon or early evening.
There are lots of different things which may inhibit your sleep.
If you’re SERIOUS about achieving more in your day, you need to learn as much as possible about this topic and experiment with what provides you with the best possible night-time slumber.
Did you know:
Engaging in short bursts of aerobic exercise throughout the day (just 5 or 10 minutes) 2 or 3 times a day will boost your metabolism and your levels of mental attention.
Adequate exercise is essential for good health and mentality.
You don’t need to make a big thing of this fact, just adapt and be versatile and you’ll soon discover ways which suit you.
It needs to fit in naturally with your day.
Here are a few of the solutions I have adapted to suit my day.
Sometimes, I will do 50 – 100 lunges, or press-ups in my office which really get me panting and my blood circulating.
This increases my metabolism and my attention span.
Although tiring, I am ready for another few hours work after this source of intensive exercise.
I also have an exercise bike in my office which I often use, and the great thing is I can work at the same time.
Well, I have to read quite a bit of email, newsletters mainly, and also as a result I watch related video.
So, I have a special holder for my tablet conveniently fitted to the exercise bike, and I read or watch while I’m training and sweating.
It’s a great combination and way of making use of my exercise time, as well as making it less painful.
By the way, my home is right on the beach!
So, when the weather is fine, I often take a brisk walk up and down the shoreline, and this is a great time for thinking, deep thoughts and how to overcome challenges and problems that I may be experiencing.
In my pocket, I carry my digital dictaphone, and I ALWAYS arrive back home with a whole load of thoughts and ideas I have recorded while out walking.
There is always a way, in fact, MANY WAYS of conveniently fitting metabolism raising exercise into your day.
MOST people are sadly de-hydrated most of the time.
This affects their levels of energy and concentration quite dramatically.
Just remember, regardless of sex, if your PEE is less than crystal-clear, then you need to drink more.
Stay away from carbonated drinks, they are SERIOUSLY not good for you.
The non-diet drinks are full of sugar which will slow you down mentally and do nothing for your diet.
Water is always good for you, especially filtered water.
I also enjoy a mug of green tea a few times every day.
Personally, I find coffee makes my heart beat faster!
Perhaps it’s the levels of caffeine within the coffee that tend to make me hyper and over-animated, so I don’t drink it anymore. tend to make me tend to make me
Have lots of starts and finishes.
This works particularly well if you’re trying to learn, assimilate or master something new.
New skills are always best learned in small chunks with a little time in between to let that new knowledge go deeper into your memory.
It’s also a great formula for getting the most out of your day.
This is a personal choice, but I find I work best in 20-minute periods, then I change the action for 5 to 10 minutes, i.e., go to the toilet, do a little exercise, perhaps make a cup of tea.
Experiment, see what periods of work time suit you best.
Just remember, you need to be 100% focused on your work during this period.
As soon as your attention starts to wane, then you need a short break, and to change the activity.
Recharge your batteries and enthusiasm, and return to it fresh and ready to give it 100%.
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
Not even for a moment!
Distractions will always be there, but whether you respond to them or not will ALWAYS be your choice.
You may have to do take DRASTIC action to avoid and block distractions out of your working life.
I certainly did.
My biggest distractions were when my children were much younger, and thought they could come to me whenever they wished.
To stop this happening, I employed a FULL-TIME nanny to be there for them all of the hours I worked, until after school when I would be 100% there for them.
As they got older, I taught them that the money I generate from my work is what gives us nice things in life.
For that reason, they now no longer (UNLESS IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT) bother me when I’m working.
In fact, they take this rule so seriously that if they need me, they walk into my office and without saying anything, place a post-it-note on my desk in front of me, I love them to bits!
I have turned off all of the social media and email notifications on my computer, I deal with these at the end of the day, and when my tasks for that day completed.
My mobile phone is in front of me, although the sound is switched off, I know that my family would not contact me unless it was URGENT, everything else I ignore.
I have recorded a firm but polite answer message which encourages callers to send me an email rather than phoning or texting me, and I give them my email address.
90% of my calls are someone trying to sell me something!
Who needs that distraction?
I have a CCTV camera fitted at my front door, which is also linked to my computers, so I can see who it is trying to get my attention.
Unless it’s the police or someone important they get ignored.
My work time is too important to allow petty distractions.
I hate with a passion any unexpected callers who generally want to speak about Jesus or have another agenda which they harbour and hope they can interest me in.
As you can see, the distractions NEVER cease, you have to decide whether you’ll let these time vampires disrupt your day or not.
Personally, I have become a master of ignoring them.
You need to also.
Turn off ALL Social media and email notifications.
These sliding notifications on your computer will waste HOURS of your day if you allow them to do so.
I mentioned this earlier already.
When they first appeared, I thought those little notifications which slide into the bottom right-hand side of your screen, notifying you that you have a new social media message or email, or that someone you’re following had posted a new article.
Initially, I thought they were wonderful.
I think because they were new, and still a novelty, but then they became a NUISANCE!
I still think they’re great for marketing my products.
But, if I’m trying to stay focused and avoid distractions, then they are Satan in disguise.
It didn’t take me long to realise that I would be halfway through writing a sentence or paragraph, and when a notification appeared, and it would totally distract me and I would have to start writing that sentence again.
Presous time that can’t be regained, and was a totally lost.
It may only be a minute or two, but when it happens MULTIPLE times a day, wasted minutes soon become LOST HOURS.
If I received an email notification, even if I didn’t immediately open it, I would start thinking about it.
Again, it would distract me, A LOT!
They’ll all wait till later, and a suitable time that I have available and generally allotted to read them.
Very little is that URGENT that it needs to be dealt with immediately.
In fact, I don’t think I have ever had a sliding notification which is URGENT!
Not from MY perspective anyway.
If you want to stay focused, and achieve more, turn sliding notifications OFF permanently!
Keep your mind and works space uncluttered.
I have noticed that people who have untidy houses and workspaces are rarely reliable or punctual.
Or are they marvellously successful achievers in life either.
This should be a big hint!
By contrast, those who keep a tidy workspace seem to generally deliver on, or ahead of time, EVERY TIME!
When I first started working for myself, I had a very confined work area, surface space was at a premium.
It was like working in a cupboard.
I hated the fact that I had to dig around to find things and it wasted my time.
But now, although my office is just a spare bedroom, things are different and clutter is a thing of the past.
I also keep my computer desktop tidy also:
Just imagine, working on 12 documents on your computer all at the same time, it would keep confusion and the opportunity to make mistakes to a maximum.
Nowadays, apart from my notebook, I keep my desk space squeaky-clean and clear of clutter.
If I have to get documents out, I refile them again immediately I have finished using them.
Generally, I never have more than a couple of programs open on my computer at the same time, I close them on completion.
This keeps me TOTALLY focused on the task I am working on.
There is an old joke which states:
“A tidy desk is the sign of a sick mind!”
It’s just that, an old joke.
Put your phone on silent or switch it off altogether.
As far as I’m concerned, my phone is there for my use, and for me to contact my family ONLY.
Other than my family, and VERY CLOSE friends, I really don’t want to receive phone calls, especially during the working day, I find them an invasion of my time and privacy.
Worst of all, as mentioned repeatedly, they distract me!
Getting refocused after taking a phone call, even a short one, generally takes time.
It may only be a couple of minutes, but they were a couple of minutes I had plans for, and answering the phone made my day slightly less productive.
So, like most things, the CHOICE whether you answer your phone or not is totally up to you.
The more focused I have become, the MORE focused and guarded I recognise I need to be with my valuable time.
It’s an ongoing battle!
We live in a very presumptuous world!
It’s amazing how many calls I used to get where someone without the slightest interest in me suddenly goes into their invasive sales spiel.
Not only are these calls a time waste and a distraction, but they get me unnecessarily ANGRY at the same time.
The audacity of such people and companies that market themselves in this way.
There should be, and I’m sure in the future will be, a LAW against such unsolicited calls in the not too distant.
I have found that it’s best to respond rather than to react, so I encourage people who need to contact me to send me an email.
My answer machine message states that I won’t respond to messages or texts left on my phone (except family texts) obviously.
I tell them if they have a legitimate reason for contacting me, they should use my email address which I supply them with.
I always finish by stating that unsolicited sales emails won’t be replied to, as I already have three!
Keep a note pad on your desk and a digital dictaphone in your pocket.
Naturally, during my day ideas come to me!
I really don’t want to spend any time on them at that point or disrupt my workflow, but neither do I want to waste that idea.
As I research on the Internet, I see other ideas and solutions that TRIGGER even more ideas which I know I will use and find useful in the future.
The way around these unavoidable distractions is simple.
I keep a notepad on my desktop, and my only deviation from my workflow is to write and record ideas which I’ll come back to later.
If it’s an idea I see on a website, or in an article, then I use Evernote Clipper (this is a FREE browser app) to grab that article, or, make a note of the page, or even grab the clipping of what caught my interest.
I then add this to a relevant Evernote notebook page, and also make an ink note of this for future reference on my note pad.
The best thoughts and ideas ALWAYS need to be recorded immediately, and they can come to you at any time.
For other times, such as when I’m watching the television, and LOADS of ideas come to me while watching TV.
Or, I’m out or driving my car etc.
Then I rely on a digital dictaphone app on my smartphone.
I quickly make a note of the idea, or whatever it is I need to refer back to, and then I transfer these to my ideas list in Evernote at the end of the day.
The best ideas come to me at the STRANGEST times!
Sometimes while I’m asleep an important idea will come to me.
Or, while I’m soaking in the bath, they’re a common occurrence.
So obviously, I keep my smartphone quite close to hand to record them.
The more creative you become, the more creative the ideas that will come to you.
Sometimes, you’ll get a whole AVALANCHE of ideas, but these ideas sometimes don’t stay with you that long, so be PREPARED to record them IMMEDIATELY!
The penultimate action of the day.
Checking my emails is my penultimate action of the day.
I put enough time on one side to see who the email is from, read the subject line, and then decide whether they need reading or not.
Spam or junk email gets dumped and blocked immediately.
This then leaves me with a number of emails which I have an interest in reading.
Some of them will be NEWSLETTERS which I have subscribe to from other marketers.
These get scheduled to be read over the next few days, and I generally I do this while I’m on my exercise bike.
What remains I try to read, or scan there and then.
MOST emails don’t require a response, however, if they do, and it will only take a few minutes I try to respond there and then.
This leaves me less to do the following day.
However, if the response time is going to take longer, and its high priority, I generally schedule response for the following day.
Responding to emails from my email list subscribers takes the most time, but this is an ESSENTIAL task that develops out relationship.
So, these emails are added to my priority folder, and time is scheduled to respond to them generally the following working day.
I hope this makes clear while I leave this till the end of the day.
If I responded and read emails as they arrived, not only would it distract me from the task at hand, but even worse, it would probably take 10 times as long.
Don’t allow yourself to be ruled or overwhelmed by your email.
The final task of the day.
As you can see, I am quite organised and I start every day with a crystal-clear plan of what I’m going to achieve.
Planning will be your most important of tasks, especially what you are going to do tomorrow or this week, so make it the last task of your day.
Because I read my goals and objectives on a daily basis, I know what I have to achieve next and what I have to work on tomorrow.
In fact, I have a very good idea of what I need to achieve next week, next month, and in fact for the rest of the year.
You may remember I said I spend a little time on working on my planning most days, and I’m constantly upgrading and improving my goals and objectives.
It’s one of my FAVOURITE tasks.
I have also been taking notes throughout the day, and these get added to relevant plans and objectives.
So, my last task is to write out my tomorrow’s to-do list and prioritise them in order of importance.
For me, writing is the majority of my work.
Some days I will write 3,000 or 4,000 words, or even more.
Other days far less, my objective is to finish and complete every task on my to-do list.
If I don’t achieve this, it’s not a failure or a problem, the remaining tasks simple get added to tomorrows to do list.
The nature of my work means that it WILL NEVER be complete!
As one project comes to fruition, I have two or three more waiting attention.
This is what makes my job so enjoyable and why I love it so much.
I hope you can see how IMPORTANT planning is if you want to be a big achiever.
Work in a conducive environment!
The environment in which you work will greatly influence your quality of output and levels of concentration.
For that reason, it’s important, in fact, ESSENTIAL that you should make your working environment as pleasant and enjoyable as you possibly can make it.
Now it will be different for all of us and will come down to our particular and individual tastes.
I work in a number of different environments.
My main environment is my home office.
Most days I will spend perhaps three or four hours in my office, more if the weather outside is not nice (more about this in a moment).
My office is a medium-sized bedroom, and slowly, I have decorated and furnished it to my taste.
Lighting and atmosphere are VERY important to me.
I enjoy a southerly aspect overlooking the beach and sea, so my desk looks out over this.
However, when it’s really sunny it can be overpowering, so, I often lower the blinds and defuse the powerful rays of the sun.
By contrast, in the winter, and on darker days I have subdued and subtle atmospheric lighting that makes my office so much warmer and cosier.
In fact, I think it is my favorite room where I feel perfectly at home, secure and very comfortable.
However, you can have too much of a good thing, and occasionally I experience small doses of cabin fever.
The solution to this problem was simple:
My country office!
No, I didn’t buy a second office.
I am extremely lucky that as well as living on the beach, I also live right next to the countryside in a beautiful county of the UK.
One day a few years ago, I had the decorators in the house and they were also redecorating my office.
The smell was pretty awful and I found them being there very distracting.
So, I jumped in my car and decided to visit a beauty spot just a 5-minute drive away.
Here I started to work on my laptop and almost immediately couldn’t believe that I hadn’t tried doing this before, it was wonderful.
After that, and if the weather was good and regardless of season, I started to go out for two or three hours working in my car most days.
As I write this article I am sitting at the edge of a friendly farmer’s field where I have permission to park, its early January.
Here’s a photo of my view.
It’s a bit dark and dingy today, but still lovely and a great honor to be able to work here.
It’s absolutely freezing outside, but I am quite warm in my car and have a flask of tea beside me.
In the summer, it transforms into a very special and beautiful place.
I have a number of such spots, all within 10 minutes of my home.
Best of all, I am EXCEPTIONALLY productive working out of my car.
I can work undisturbed for 2 to 4 hours, often without seeing anyone.
In fact, I am REALLY surprised that I don’t see more people doing the same thing.
Office number three!
Truthfully, this is not so much an office as a place of inspiration.
At the start of a new project, there is generally a lot of planning and big chunk ideas required.
If the weather is good when I reach this time I generally go to my local small town and sit outside one of the many cafes and indulge myself in one of my favorite pastimes:
I usually sit watch and write on my tablet or notepad as long as ideas come to me.
This environment is ALL distractions, but I find it an exceptionally creative environment for collecting ideas and creating plans.
I hope what I have just shared inspires you to create somewhere special for yourself to work.
It really will make a HUGE positive difference
Use your commuting time wisely.
I do realise that some trades and professions HAVE to commute or travel to their place of work.
While, and by contrast, my place of work is just 15 strides away from my bedroom.
This is why I just love the WFH (work from home) LIFESTYLE!
However, it doesn’t mean that you CAN’T use this time wisely.
If you have to use public transport such as buses, trains or airplanes, then you have an opportunity to use much of this time to read educational material, or even watch educational videos.
There is always something you can study which will help you grow.
If you’re driving, there are many great audio courses out there which will inspire you.
Consider this for a moment:
if you spend 2 hours in commuting to work and from every day, that equals 10 hours a week, or 40 hours a month.
In total 480 hours every year, perhaps more.
In the UK the average high school pupil studies for just 714 hours every year!
This means that every year you would be doing almost 60% of high school year in your downtime.
How much better do you think you would do now in studying and growing than when you’re at school?
Can you see the potential?
I hope so!
As always, the choice whether to make the most of this downtime or not is yours, and yours alone.
I’m sure that you’ll make the right choice.