When your career advances, your time becomes more valuable and the number of things that you need to do grows, sometimes exponentially. Adding non-work responsibilities in the mix, such as family obligations, charity work, and other interests, only makes time management harder. Below are productivity hacks from people who have found a way to make their demanding schedules work. Maybe one of them will help you.
Choose one of two conflicting approaches: Overload or prioritize
This first tip underscores the fact that different time management approaches work differently for each person. Quotes from an article in Money Magazine, from an investment manager and a sales trainer, provides radically different advice on how they remain productive. One of them indicated that when his workload is already in high gear he adds to his workload to maximize the effects of his engagement. Representing the exact opposite approach, the sales trainer encouraged workers to prioritize and not try to do everything all at once. She says that these priorities should be about your purpose and about staying focused on tasks and revenue generation activities that only you can do. How do you make sense of conflicting approaches? Take some time to think about your own work style and what can make you most productive. Experiment with each approach if you can, then pick one and try it out in depth. If you see results, keep going.
Crush your distractions
Do you have an inkling that there are things that might be getting in the way of your productivity? Are smaller tasks, too many questions from others, or other kinds of interruptions eating away at what you can do? They may be undermining one of your most valuable assets: your time. The good news is that there is something you can do about it. To start to get a handle on your distractions, write them down. Keep notes electronically, in a calendar format, or with a small, portable notebook. Set aside some quiet time at the end of the week to go through your list and develop a strategy for eliminating each one. Are email notifications an issue? Check them less frequently or turn off your alerts. Can you hire an assistant who can handle some tasks or run interference? Do it. Are colleagues, co-workers, or family not respecting work boundaries? Talk to them about it or limit their access during work time. Almost every distraction can have a solution if you are focused enough to identify it.
Take small breaks to recharge
When your energy levels are low and you’re running out of steam, you aren’t as productive. This is only natural and is one of the easiest things to fix. Take a few minutes in the middle of the day to stand away from your desk, get outside, grab a snack, take a few minutes for mindfulness, or even take a short nap. Though you may think pushing through a busy day is the best way to get things done, after a short break many people have found that their productivity and focus has multiplied. The net effect is that they’ve gotten more accomplished by the end of the day.
Look at how you start your day
It is cliche but true. Many of the most productive people start their days early and make time for morning workouts, meditation, catching up on the news and overnight developments in their field, or some priority planning for how they want their days to go. Just the fact of having a plan and a routine, and taking a few moments of quiet time before their day begins, makes a difference. It helps them to become centered and more engaged with their tasks. You may find that you need to get up earlier, even radically earlier, to fit this time into your schedule. It’s worth it.