Most of us wish there were more hours in the day. But be honest with yourself – even if you had more hours, would you just waste them away?
Ask any successful freelancer and they’ll tell you that it’s not the number of hours you have, but how you use them. By learning and practicing effective time management techniques, you can get more done and also have more time to relax.
Here are 10 simple things you can do today to work more efficiently:
1. Prioritize Better. Narrow down everything you have to do to just three to five manageable items. Put these tasks in order from most to least important so that you’re focusing on what’s essential. If you do this, you’ll eliminate nonessential, time-wasting activities.
2. Set Time Blocks. Create a block of time for each task you have to do and decide exactly how long you’ll do it. For example, one hour per day on an ongoing project or thirty minutes a day on Facebook. This keeps you on track and prevents you from spending too long on any one task.
3. Take Regular Breaks. If you work too long doing something, you may lose focus and burn out. Break up activities with short rest periods where you can refresh yourself and get your mind off work. Then, you can get back to what you’re doing with renewed energy and use your time better.
4. Remove Distractions. Things may be taking too long because you’re letting yourself get distracted. Turn off all notifications and sign out of social media. Let people know that you’re working and not to be bothered. If there’s something urgent, tell the person you’ll get to it when you’re done.
5. Perform a Time Audit. Keep track of how you spend your time each day with a timer and write down the results. Over the course of several days, a picture will emerge showing how you actually spend your time. You may be surprised at where you’re wasting it!
6. Choose Optimal Times. There’s an optimal time of day for each type of task. For example, you may be most adept at communications in the late morning or creative in the evening. There may also be a time of day when you’re at your most productive. Identify these times and use them to schedule your daily tasks more effectively.
7. Schedule Fun Time. When making your daily schedule, set aside time for entertainment, mindless distraction, and pure fun. You can indulge in these activities during breaks from tougher things, or use them as a reward for completing tasks.
8. Don’t Multitask. Contrary to what many believe, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it ruins your focus and prevents you from getting any one task done efficiently. Focus on one thing at a time.
9. Get Organized. Organize your workspace so that everything is where you need it and easily accessible. This will cut down on the time you spend searching for things and doing on-the-spot organizing. Set aside a little time daily or weekly to clean up, organize, and put things away.
10. Keep Goals in Mind. For each thing you have to do in a day, take a moment to consider whether it’s directly helping you reach a specific goal or not. If it’s not, consider eliminating it from your list, moving it to a later time, or delegating it to somebody else.
If that list feels overwhelming for you, start by choosing just one of the above activities to start with. As you get better at that one activity, it will become easier to add the others in as you go, and you’ll most likely see your productivity skyrocket!