With summer in full swing, you may have all but forgotten those New Year’s resolutions you made more than six months ago. For many, those resolutions included managing their time better and magically fitting everything, including time for cleaning and decluttering, into the 24 hours each day offers. To refresh your memory—and your motivation—here are a few tips to boost your productivity.
Tip #1: Make a daily plan.
Take just a few minutes each morning or at the end of each day to jot down your goals and plans for the day ahead. Celestine Chua at LifeHack.org explains that, even if it’s just a rough sketch, this plan will help you organize your thoughts and activities as the day unfolds. “Your job for the day,” she says, “is to stick to the plan as best as possible.”
Tip #2: Finish essential tasks first.
While the most important things on your plate may not always be the most fun to tackle, finishing these tasks first affords you flexibility later in your day. Jordan Bates at The Creativity Post calls this, “the golden rule of time management.” If the rest of the day doesn’t go as planned, no sweat—your essentials are already done.
Tip #3: Set reminders for yourself.
Most of us have calendar tools on our phones or attached to our email accounts. Many of these come with the ability to set customized reminders for tasks and events. Using this simple tool can greatly boost your productivity and help you keep track of time throughout your day. Need a 15-minute break before switching gears to work on another task? Set a reminder. Need five minutes to gather your thoughts before a meeting? Set a reminder. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Tip #4: Schedule like tasks together.
According to Stanford University psychology professor Clifford Nass, constant multitasking or jumping between tasks actually leads to reduced productivity. He explains that people who multitask “are chronically distracted.” Combat your tendency to juggle by grouping similar tasks together.
Inc.com writer Kevin Daum explains how he implements this approach: “Instead of moving back and forth between different projects in small increments, I’m setting large blocks of time or even a full day for related tasks.” Have eight emails to write? Knock ‘em out in quick succession. Or, need to clean and declutter three rooms in your house? Tackle them one after the other. When doing each task, resist the urge to jump on social media or switch to another to-do item. You may be surprised at how quickly the work gets done.
Tip #5: Exercise your ability to say no or not right now.
You may be rolling your eyes at this one, but sometimes, the best way to boost your productivity and better manage your time is simply doing less. Turning offers or tasks down or scheduling them for a later date can free up that valuable time you’ve been searching for each day.
Put these time management tips into practice and you’ll soon find you can be more productive when you need to be while still carving out time for rest and relaxation.
You’ll also have extra time to tackle those endless decluttering projects around your home. Need some suggestions to help you get started? Find organizing tips tailored to your personality by taking Uncle Bob’s Clutter Personality Quiz. Once you dive in, you may realize you need more space and that renting a storage unit could be the perfect solution.
Celestine Chua, “20 Quick Tips for Better Time Management,” Lifehack.org, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/20-quick-tips-for-better-time-management.html.
Jordan Bates, “Work Smarter, Not Harder: 21 Time Management Tips to Hack Productivity,” The Creativity Post, http://www.creativitypost.com/create/work_smarter_not_harder_21_time_management_tips_to_hack_productivity/.
Kevin Daum, “6 Tips for Productive Time Management,” Inc.com, http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/6-tips-for-productive-time-management.html.
“The Myth of Multitasking,” NPR.org, http://www.npr.org/2013/05/10/182861382/the-myth-of-multitasking/.