How to Manage Your Time Like a Boss
If we could have one superhuman power, it would be to increase the number of hours in a day. There never seem to be enough! Alas, this is not an option. We have, however, figured out how to double our productivity each day. It’s all about prioritizing your tasks, managing your schedule, and tracking your progress. Scroll through for seven ways to manage your time like a boss and to make the most out of every day!
If you have a task on your to-do list that can be accomplished in two minutes or less, get it done. It could be a quick email reply, a phone call, or a desk cleanup. These items will take longer to schedule for later than they would to tackle in the moment. So touch these tasks once and get them finished in the moment.
Deep, creative thinking is hard to turn on and off for most people. It doesn’t come in 15-minute spurts between meetings, and when interrupted by an unscheduled phone call or email, it goes away. Prevent this from happening by scheduling your deep-thinking time. This is a time when you won’t check your phone or your computer. It’s a meeting that you schedule with your mind, and you should give it all of the respect and attention you would give a meeting with another person. The creative or critical thinking you produce during this uninterrupted period is more than worth the space it takes up on your calendar. That said, know your brain’s most productive periods of the day.
Remember this: Every minute you give away to a meeting has an opportunity cost. It’s one less minute you get to work, to exercise, to think, to be with family, etc. While it can be incredibly rewarding to take meetings that help others, a lot of internal company meetings are unnecessary. Make sure each meeting on your schedule has an agenda. You want to know the purpose of it before you attend it, and there should always be a time limit. Most internal office meetings need 15 minutes or less. Weekly reviews might need longer. But guard your minutes with your life—they really are your most valuable possession.
A new study published by Stanford University proves that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Your brain can only process so many stimuli at once. If you want to perform a task well and be able to recall it later, focus on a singular task. If the cost of compromising your efficiency and performance doesn’t scare you away from multitasking, consider this: Studies show multitasking can lower your IQ as well. One study conducted at the University of London found that participants who multitasked experienced IQ declines similar to those of individuals who had smoked marijuana or pulled an all-nighter.
Sometimes the time-costliest task is the task of getting started. If you develop your own system and stick to it, your work can flow in a constant stream of accomplishment. It doesn’t need to start and stop with each day or after each interruption. We love writing our to-do list for the following day before signing off each night. Then we start our day by tackling the most difficult task first, before we even check our inbox. Checking your email first thing in the morning can only do one thing: disrupt your to-do list, thereby throwing off your workflow. Figure out what kind of workflow works best for you, and stick to it.
The truth is too many priorities equals no priorities. If you have two to three things on your to-do list that you must accomplish, you will accomplish those two to three things. However, if you have five to 10 things to accomplish, chances are you going to only get around to one or two of them. The burden and anxiety of those 10 tasks will drain you of your resources and cause you to accomplish as much as if you had you edited your list. Think about the tasks at hand. Delegate, postpone, or ignore when possible. If there are certain things that only you can do and their completion will move your company forward, do them first.
For tasks that must be accomplished, schedule them in your calendar as you would a meeting. These tasks are not to be pushed or interrupted until complete. We also recommend scheduling exercise time, meal time, and “me time.” Sure, eating lunch in front of your desk is sometimes a must. But scheduling 20 minutes to step away from your desk and have a salad in the sunshine could make you infinitely more productive in the afternoon.
Shop a few of our favorite tools for keeping yourself on a productive schedule.
Do you have a time-management hack? Share with us in the comments.