Anytime I feel like I’m spinning my tyres and being too lazy, I remind myself that everyone has the same number of hours in the day and that it’s simply a matter of time management to start doing better. I mean, if Einstein and Hawking managed to form theories of physics without the use of Tameday, then surely I can finish my to-do list for that day. Here are the ten best tips I keep at my side to cross every item off on my list.
1. Understand How Long Each Task Takes
Think of this like baking: at first, you’re not sure how much ½ cup of butter looks outside of a measuring cup. But once you get used to baking things, you’ll recognise what ½ cup looks like and the process gets easier and faster. Time management is pretty similar. Once you figure out how long each task takes, it becomes incredibly easy and fast to budget time for each one. I also like to buffer in a few minutes extra for each task just in case it takes longer — that way, I don’t feel really down on myself if it needs more attention.
2. Work Out the ‘End’ of Each Task
If you’re running in a race but nobody tells you how long it is, how will you know when you’ve reached the end? Or how to pace yourself? It’s always a good idea to work out what the finished result looks like, so you don’t have the scope creep worming its way in.
3. Make Lists
Having a to-do list has several purposes:
It outlines in black-and-white just what you’ve got to accomplish.
- To-do lists are non-judgmental. They’re simply a record of what you’ve got to get done.
- They fit every kind of style, whether you prefer writing them by hand or seeing them on a computer.
- You can tangibly see how much progress you’ve made — that can be a huge confidence boost.
- It’s easier to stay on track because everything is right there in front of you.
4. Knock Off the Most Important Things First
I look at this one as triaging: I sort through my work based on what’s most important, what’s least important, and everything in between. Then I set my attention to what shouldn’t wait and work my way down. This means that even if I get nothing else done, I’ve still finished the bulk of my work for the day.
5. Eliminate Distractions (Temporarily)
Look, I don’t have the attention span of a super-worker.
And that’s totally okay.
It’s okay because when I do set my attention to work, it’s entirely on work. I work in little breaks for distractions, like checking out Reddit or YouTube, before getting back to my work. It’s a way to break up the monotony but still keep motivated to finish everything.
6. Multitasking Isn’t a Thing
The idea of being proud of ‘multitasking’ is old. Researchers have found that multitasking doesn’t exist. What we do instead is shift our attention back and forth very rapidly. And when we do that, we have to include extra time to re-orient ourselves to the task, which ends up costing more time overall.
7. There’s Also No Such Thing as ‘Waiting for Inspiration to Strike’
If I only did work when I felt inspired and creatively charged, I’d do maybe a few hours of work a week. Nobody can be inspired all the time, but we do have to get work done. The most successful of us are the ones who grit our teeth through the trying times and keep at things, even when it feels like we’re not batting a thousand. But it’s during those times that results accumulate and you actually accomplish things.
8. Eat and Sleep Well
The Winter Olympics have just wrapped up and this is a perfect example to look at. All of those athletes put on a show for just a brief spot of time, which was hugely impressive. But what’s more impressive is all the work they did for the last four years to make it count when it mattered most. Although you and I aren’t Olympic athletes, it’s our sleeping and eating habits that set the stage for how well we’ll be able to perform when working.
9. Aim for Excellence, Not Perfection
If you aim for perfection, you’ll feel constantly let down when you don’t achieve it. It’s an unfair standard to reach for, and one that’ll usually end in self-sabotage. Instead, the better goal to strive for is excellence. Try to be excellent in your approach, in what you’ve learned when you’ve (inevitably) stumbled, and in how you pick yourself up again. Because when you make excellence your goal, the results will come naturally.
10. Reward Yourself
When I’m working on a big project, I work in little rewards to motivate myself. They’re little things, like a bowl of ice cream or 10 minutes of Angry Birds. And occasionally I’ll throw a bigger reward in there, like finishing work an hour earlier than usual. These rewards help me stay on track and self-monitor my behaviour to make sure I’m not goofing off. And when I reach the big rewards for the big efforts, I feel good knowing that I earned them.
What if I told you there was one solution for all your time management woes? That in just one location, you could write your to-do lists, schedule breaks and rewards, and have your whole team on the same page? It might sound like magic, but it’s not. Tameday is the top solution for building a system that’s customisable and works for you.