Productivity often has little to do with the time on hand, but how the time available is spent. It’s why you have certain days that are extremely fruitful, and others that are duds, despite them having the same amount of hours. Your focus, then, should be on maximizing what you’ve got rather than dreaming about getting more. There are a few proven ways to manage your time better.
A popular way to get more done is to bundle activities. For example, you may want to spend Monday mornings replying to emails since they may be piled up from the weekend, and spend Friday afternoons making phone calls since most people have slowed down work and are available to talk. It creates a natural flow since you’re doing the same task versus jumping from varied activities. As an added benefit, the structure also creates anticipation in yourself and your cohorts: Your clients and colleagues may begin looking forward to you contacting them at a certain time, and may even initiate new ideas at a particular time because they know you’ll be, say, working on email within a certain period.
Timing is important, but even more crucial is your natural productivity. If you’re a morning person, then do your “heavy lifting” work first thing and save the simpler, administrative work for later in the day. If you’re a night person, then build your schedule accordingly.
Focus is the most precious energy you’ve got, and periodically turning off social media and other outside influences can power up your productivity. Some of the most effective leaders do regular unplugging to focus, like not checking email until mid-morning, keeping their phone on unavailable “airplane mode” when they need to concentrate and removing social media apps from their devices so they won’t mindlessly waste time.
Monotasking, or dedicating yourself to one goal at a time, allows you to be more productive than even the best multitasker. Simplify your goals so they don’t require you to juggle multiple intentions at the same time.
And to have a productive day, lay out your strategy the night before. It can be super simple, such as setting a few high-level goals, or extremely detailed, breaking down how you’ll spend each hour the next day. When you write it down, your mind begins formulating a strategy for tomorrow: how much time you’ll need, what you should focus on and how to execute it. Don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning and begin revising your plan, as you’ve had an opportunity to sleep on it. By planning the evening before, you have a basic strategy in place before any unexpected chaos or demands can throw you off your game in the morning.