Productivity Tips: 20 Quick and Easy Ways to Be More Productive

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Do you often find yourself rushed for time when completing tasks? Do you find yourself taking work home in order to meet a deadline? How well do you deal with interruptions when you are in the middle of a task?
In today's world, success comes to those who have learned to manage their time well. You too can be a good time manager by following these 20 easy time management tips:
1. Create an activity schedule. It might be a good idea to create a schedule the previous night or the first thing in the morning. You can even use your diary to jot down the list of things to do. This way, you are more likely to be prepared for the day ahead and less likely to be caught unawares by something not on your agenda for the day.
2. Set mini goals for the day. Set a time limit for each of your tasks. For example, finish drafting letters by 9.30am, conclude staff meeting by noon, check and reply to emails by 1pm, and so on. This will not only prevent overstepping the time allotted for each task, but will also turn out to be an effective task management tool.
3. Minimize interruptions. While you cannot totally stop people from dropping by at your desk when you are busy, you can set up alternate times when you can make yourself available for them.
4. Eliminate distractions. Try not to keep any Instant Messaging software running when you are at work. Notifications of new emails arriving are another distraction that should be disabled. You can always return to your emails later when you have completed your tasks.
5. Do not give in to temptation. While we are all prone to checking our Facebook and Twitter accounts regularly, it might be a good idea to close or disable 'quick access' icons and toolbars of social networking websites when you are working.
6. Focus on the task at hand. Some important tasks require single-minded focus. You might be tempted to tackle several tasks together through multitasking, but that may not always be a good example of effective task management. It is better to focus on only one thing at a time, and get it done efficiently.
7. Get organized. Use an organizer that helps you arrange your to-do lists, appointments, notes, reminders and directory of contacts all in one place. This will help you take control not only of your work life, but also of your personal life.
8. Use a calendar to plan. Besides using an organizer, it is also a good idea to use any of the calendar software that also doubles up as an effective scheduler and planner. Worth a mention here is the Google Calendar, which many people sync with their mobile phones. This enables them to access their calendar anywhere at anytime.
9. Mark your deadlines. It is important to be aware of the deadlines of all your tasks. To enable you to remember, try and clearly highlight your deadlines on your calendar or organizer.
10. Aim to finish early. Another effective time management tip is to try and beat your own deadlines. If you aim to complete a task just before deadline time, then you are more likely to be late. So, set your targets in such a way that you finish every task well before its deadline. Similarly, try and be early for your appointments, rather than be on time.
11. Allocate time frames. Effective time management is all about allocating a specific time slot for each task. You will minimize the chances of overrunning the allotted time if you strictly adhere to these time slots.
12. Set an alarm for an earlier time. Set an alarm on your calendar or mobile phone to buzz 10-15 minutes prior to your time of appointment. This is a great way to give you enough time to be better prepared.
13. Place a clock in front of you. Time flies when we are busy and you may not be aware of the passing minutes and hours. It might be a good idea to have a large clock in front of you so that you can keep track of time.
14. Be aware of the time you are spending. Keep track of the time you are spending on a task by using a simple online countdown timer. Since this will help you check your progress every half hour or so, it will prove to be a very practical task management tool.
15. Know when to stop. Every task can be stretched longer than required. Similarly, meetings can go on and on. But you need to know when to put your foot down and set a cut-off time. Otherwise, you will end up using the time that you have allocated for other tasks.
16. Try not to be too exacting. Being a perfectionist might be good in some cases, but when it comes to getting a task done, try not to be too fussy about unimportant details.
17. Delegate. If you have peers and subordinates who can do the same task as well as you, then consider delegating. This will free up a lot of time for you to focus on more important work.
18. Bring order to chaos by prioritization. There are tasks that are important, and then there are those that can be attended to later, or dropped altogether. Among productivity tips, prioritization is one tip that is keenly followed by every successful person. Learn to prioritize your tasks.
19. Group similar tasks together. You can further streamline your work by grouping all similar tasks together. For example, reading letters, drafting replies to those letters and dictating them can be grouped together and completed in one time slot. Similarly, all the phone calls that need to be made can be done at the same time. This way, your thoughts are not all over the place during the day, and each group of tasks is completed at the same time.
20. A breather helps. In between tasks, allow yourself some time as a buffer. Don't rush from one task to the next throughout the day! Give a ten minute gap in between to give you enough time to bring a proper closure to the previous task and prepare yourself mentally to start the next. An excellent method to use is the Pomodoro Technique.
Chase R. Smith is a productivity and time management professional. For more tips & techniques to help you become more effective with managing your time and tasks visit Chase at

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