15 Tips to be more productive with your time
Good time management skills are a must to reach your goals. We are all given 24 hours a day. Still, some people seem to be able to get so much done! Improving your time management skills is one of the best things you can do to work on your personal growth and achieve your goals. Learning how to be more productive with your time will be a game-changer.
During my 4 years at College, I had no choice but to improve my organization skills. I worked as a finance specialist 35 hours per week, had 20 hours of lessons, and lots of group work. Mastering time management and time optimization was a must to survive and balance it all.
If you are an ambitious person who always has a ton of goals and projects in mind, this post is definitely for you. Let’s jump into these 15 tips to help you master time management to make the most of each day.
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1. Find the perfect Planner
I will not start this list with the “Write Things down” tip because writing things down is so obvious when you have to deal with many projects/goals at the same time. Unfortunately, writing things down is not enough.
You need to be consistent and find the best planner for you. Whether you decide to use a digital planner or a paper version, finding the best planner should be your first mission to improve your time management skills.
This is probably the most important point on the list and the aspect I struggled the most with.
I love nice planners like these and actually use several of them to organize my projects.
I love them, but I want to be able to carry my daily planner everywhere. This is why I use Google Calendar for everything private and my Outlook calendar for work. I use them both on my cellphone and computers, and this is the easiest way I found to stay organized.
On my Google Calendar, I plan all my private tasks and goals, from housework to blogging tasks, and add “busy” blocks corresponding to my working hours without adding any details.
I then plan my day around these blocks and create “personal” blocks with as much information as possible on the tasks to complete at home, while commuting etc.
In my Outlook calendar, I simply do the opposite blocking time I am not supposed to work without adding any information and detailing as much as possible tasks to perform during working hours.
Using 2 separate calendars is recommended if you share calendars within your company. You want people to know that you are not available at certain times of the day without giving the company too much information on what you are doing.
2. Start Time blocking
We already talked a bit about time blocking, but just in case you don’t know what time blocking is, it is a time management technique where you divide your day into several blocks corresponding to the time allocated to complete a specific task. The idea is to eliminate distractions to allow you to focus as much as possible on the tasks you have to complete.
Time blocking does help to get things done because human beings need guardrails to work and be efficient. Setting a predefined time to focus on specific tasks leaves less room for distraction.
3. Be conscious about how you use your time
We often think that we don’t have enough time to do things. I used to think that too.
If you think that you do not have enough time to work out, learn a new language or have a side hustle, consider using an app that analyzes your screen time.
You will probably be shocked when you will discover how much time you spend scrolling on your phone or playing your favorite game.
You might also want to analyze the time spent watching TV. According to a study published in 2015, Americans spent on average 274 minutes watching TV daily. That’s more than 4 hours per day, and this does not include time spent on a smartphone or tablet.
According to another study, the average person spends over 2 hours per day mindless scrolling! Most of these 2 hours are actually spent on social media. Yes, social media is fun and free, but it is actually stealing your time and focus, which are priceless!
Understanding how you are spending your time is an important step to optimizing your schedules.
4. Set up geolocated reminders
Using reminders is such a basic technique that I am always surprised to see that people do not take full advantage of them.
You can, of course, set a reminder to pop up on your screen at a specific time, but did you know that your position can trigger reminders too? These are my absolute favorites!
Geolocated reminders are reminders that pop up on your phone when you are next to a predefined location. You create them using the Reminder native app on Samsung smartphones or Am I close on iPhones.
I use geolocated reminders all the time when I need to buy something from a specific place or when I need to do something as soon as I arrive home. My phone detects I am on my way, and the reminder pops up.
If you don’t like the Reminders app or AM I close, many other free apps are offering the same functionality.
5. Create routines
Creating routines is the tip that brought my time management skills to the next level. Routines are so powerful.
Habits literally make us. You can change so much in your life by implementing a simple morning and night routine. These routines are also a great way to ensure what needs to be done gets done.
If you do not have a morning and night routine yet, you can start implementing yours today by reading my two posts. I hope they will inspire you!
6. Rethink your multitasking
Multitasking, when done wrong, can severely impact your productivity and slow you down.
Most posts will tell you to stop multitasking to improve your productivity. It actually depends on the nature of the tasks you are performing. Some multitasking is fine and can actually be smart.
Although I use the time-blocking method to plan my days, and let’s say it, my whole life, I also love multitasking.
To be efficient, you must determine what tasks require your attention and not multitask while performing them.
You can, for instance, do the laundry, turn on the dishwasher and make a coffee in a 3 minutes break when working from home, or listen to a podcast while taking a bath.
Multitasking, when done right, is fine and can help you save a lot of time.
7. Eat that frog
While at University, I realized that we all have different ways of getting organized and are more efficient at different times of the day.
I also noticed that some patterns tend to repeat themselves: people who complete their most difficult tasks first get more things done at the end of the day.
Completing a difficult task and marking it as “done” is so rewarding. Most people who start with the easiest tasks and leave the other ones for the end of the day will simply postpone them. Talk about procrastination…
If you really want to be productive from now on, always start with your biggest tasks. Completing them will be so rewarding it will motivate you to do everything else on your list.
8. Make a Weekly Review
Making a weekly review is important to be prepared for the week ahead. This is typically something I love to do on Sundays.
I just look at my calendar and add blocks for the things I want to do during the following week. This helps me start every day with a clear goal in mind and at least 3 tasks to complete.
This is also the perfect occasion to plan a few rewarding activities such as going to the movies or having a drink with a friend. Remember: quality time spent with others is never a waste of time.
9. Have a “marathon” day
Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with running. Marathon days are my secret to being super productive. Once or twice a month, I plan a day to do all the things that I hate doing but that still have to be done, such as paying bills, making appointments, paperwork, going to the post office, etc.
By doing these things all on the same day, I simply stop complaining about them and can make more time for things I enjoy doing.
10. Take breaks
Breaks are crucial to staying focused and efficient. Taking a 30-minute break is sometimes a must, especially when you are stuck or overthinking something.
To make your breaks effective, you might need to rethink them. Scrolling mindlessly on your phone for 30 minutes is not a productive break. Instead, you should get hydrated, take some fresh air, and do a 3-minute meditation or simple breathing exercises.
If you are spending most of your day sitting, walking, and stretching are also good ideas to add to your breaks.
11. Avoid time-wasting habits
Remember how habits make us? If good habits can help us grow, bad habits can definitely pull us down.
This tip is directly linked to being conscious about how you spend your time. If you want to grow as a person or be more productive, you need to pay special attention to these little habits that might slow you down. Avoiding them will leave you with more time to implement new productive habits.
12. Create to-do lists
Creating to-do lists and sticking to them is one of the best ways to be productive and consistent.
You can have, for instance, a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to-do list with your goals but also create other to-do lists for staying organized, such as cleaning schedules.
The list goes on and on, there are no limits to the to-do lists you can create to stay organized!
13. Use the right apps
Using the right apps can make the difference between long-term success and repetitive failures. I tried to implement a morning routine for several weeks but was not able to stick to it until I found one of my favorite apps: Fabulous.
There are certainly other great apps out there, but this one is definitely my favorite to create routines and establish new habits. I have never skipped my morning routine since I downloaded the app, and I am now starting to implement other routines thanks to it. I simply love it!
Using other apps such as timers and cute to-do lists, can give you the motivation to keep going, so do not underestimate the power of apps.
14. Start splitting unproductive tasks
This is one of my productivity secrets, and it helped me boost my productivity in so many ways. If you have read several of my posts, you probably already know that I used to study at University while working full-time as a Finance specialist. At the time, I was already making a nice living and had my own place.
Can you imagine how much effort it takes to balance it all? I spent my Sundays cleaning around, doing the laundry, and ironing, and I would spend 5-6 hours every Sunday doing these chores.
Despite having to keep my home clean, I quickly realized that spending so much time cleaning was a waste of time. I would spend half of my Sunday cleaning, knowing perfectly that I would have to start all over again the following week.
I quickly realized that these chores took a lot of my energy and that I could be doing more productive things instead. So what did I do?
I did the maths and realized that 5 hours a week equals more or less 43 minutes a day.
By taking 45 minutes every day to do those chores after work, I would spend less time in front of the TV or on my phone and have my whole Sunday to rest or spend time outside.
This is now a rule I apply to other tasks too: I split unproductive and tedious tasks and batch tasks that need more focus.
15. Set a timer
This is another rule to apply for unproductive tasks. Let’s be honest, you can always clean or tidy more, do things better, rethink things, and reorganize your place.
To avoid spending too much time on these unproductive tasks, set a timer, and once the time is out, you’re done.
This is a habit I started to implement during my final exams because my schedules were so tight that I could not afford to waste time on unproductive tasks. These habits are often taking us time away from things that really matter. Limiting them is a smart move to improve your productivity.
These time management tips will help you be more organized and get things done fast. The secret to achieving goals is not to work harder but smarter.
Implementing these productivity tips will transform your life fast.