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Published On: Mon, Feb 22nd, 2021

How to optimize your time to keep up: 3 easy steps

To live in the mode of infinite time, at least sad, and as a maximum – harmful to health. Having missed the deadline for one task, you move all the others and in the end constantly do not have time. You get nervous and you hate yourself.

It is difficult to break out of this vicious circle, but it is possible. There are 3 simple steps in the article with specific approaches, techniques and tools.

Step 1. Take the time to plan

You sit down at your computer in the morning and spend 20-40 minutes flipping through chats, busting folders and trying to remember what to do and what is the most important task. After the first task is completed, the process repeats itself. Even if it’s not 20-40, but 5-15 minutes, it’s still easy to run a couple of hours in vain. Familiar?

To prevent this from happening, it is worth planning the working day, carefully and in advance.

Moving from chaotic work to planning and structurality is not so easy. That’s what’s going to help.

Choose a planning system

There are a lot of planning systems in place now. It is unlikely that you will be able to choose and advise one of the only correct ones. All people are different – what works well for some, others will not work at all. We’ll look at three popular systems that are worth testing, and give you a list of others in case none of these are appropriate.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

1-3-5. 

The system allows you to plan tasks for the day with prioritization so that all have time and in the evening feel good – how much I managed.

Its essence is that for every day you plan:

  • 1 most important, complex and probably time-consuming task;
  • 3 less important tasks;
  • 5 small cases.

So for each day you plan 9 tasks of varying degrees of complexity and priority – that’s a lot. On the other hand, there is only one really difficult and work-intensive task. Distributing things in this way, it is easy to keep up with all the planned, and therefore – not to feel bad because of the fact that again something needs to be transferred.

This is what a contextual advertising specialist’s to-do list might look like

Bullet Journal. 

A planning approach based on fast notes and a system of key symbols.

  • Key cards. On the first page we write down what symbols we will refer to tasks, meetings, ideas, done deeds, etc.;
  • Index. It’s a kind of content.
  • monthly. Here we make key cases for a month, which will not be canceled and will not change;
  • Calendar. Here we draw up a list of tasks, cases and meetings for the day;
  • Collections. In this section we write thematic lists, such as books to read, useful links, etc.

With an index, numbered pages, and a neat filling of the Bullet Journal diary can solve the productivity problem.

Bullet Journal example

Theoretically, such a system can be implemented digitally, for example in Trello. You can also combine it with the 1-3-5 system.

Eisenhower’s Matrix. A prioritization technique that helps you focus on what’s really important.

  • Important and urgent – those that need to be done necessarily today and first of all.
  • Non-urgent but important – the usual tasks on the to-do list for the day;
  • urgent but unimportant cases that cannot be postponed, but they do not bring them closer to achieving the goals;
  • non-urgent and unimportant cases that do no good and waste time.

Tasks for this method are convenient to write down by dividing the square on paper or in a spreadsheet into 4 segments.

Fixing cases and plans

Whatever the ideal planning system you choose, it won’t work if you keep things in mind. In addition, trying to keep plans in memory, you will reduce the efficiency of work on tasks and will be always nervous, for fear of something to forget. Therefore, it is necessary to fix the tasks precisely, the main thing is to choose a convenient way for yourself.

Diary. 

It would seem that with the development of technology paper recording should have remained in the past.

If it’s all about you, don’t torture yourself by trying to get used to digital tools – buy a beautiful diary for a year, master Bullet Journal or other effective recording system and go.

Digital services. 

If you don’t like to write by hand, the alternative may be an online service for doing business.

  • Unlike a paper diary, records can be edited.
  • If there is a cross-platform, the to-do list is always at hand – in the phone;
  • it’s easy to set reminders so you don’t forget what’s important.

Online planning tools are a great variety. The main thing is to choose the one that suits you and fits into the chosen planning system.

An example of a digital business planner

Calendar. 

The easiest digital tool is to select an app and make to-do lists for each day.

This is what a to-do list in Google Calendar might look like

The marker board. 

Another way for those who want to keep a list of cases manually.

It’s right to formulate tasks

At first glance, this advice may seem superfluous – we are all adults and know how to put words into sentences. In fact, productivity may indeed depend on a particular wording, especially if there are many tasks.

Compare the two tasks:

  • Target ads for beauty salon;
  • “Prepare three new creatives for the beauty salon campaign on Instagram.”

With the first wording in any case will have to take time to understand and remember what is needed. You can start doing the second one right away, especially if customer correspondence are attached to the task.

In digital services it is convenient to attach everything you need to the task: documents, correspondence, diagrams, layouts of pages, etc.

To simplify your life and not to waste time on solving rebuses during the day, try to formulate tasks as specific as possible. At first, this may seem like a waste of time if you are used to recording in 5 seconds the first thing that came to mind. But over time, it will be easier to formulate correctly, and productivity will increase.

Divide big cases into simple and understandable parts

This rather simple, but effective technique is also designed to simplify our brain’s perception of the problem.

Compare:

  • “Launch an advertising campaign in Google ads for delivery service”;
  • “Collect semantics on the delivery service”

The first formulation is not even a task, but a global project that includes a dozen smaller cases. It can take a week to complete. The second is a specific step in the process that is easy to execute in one approach.

Divide the big task into simple stages

Faced with the first formulation, we spend time remembering what has already been done and where we have stopped. In addition, such a global thing is psychologically harder to tackle. We subconsciously move it and end up doing longer than we could.

Step 2. Fight procrastination

Procrastination is a tendency to postpone even important and urgent cases for later.

There are many reasons for this behavior:

  • Perfectionism. Be afraid to do not ideally and therefore postpone;
  • lack of goals in life. It’s not clear why this is all at all;
  • too many tasks. It is not clear what to do, if you still do not have time;
  • there is no clear plan. Instead of choosing a task, let’s watch YouTube;
  • Fatigue. You worked for four days without sleep and rest, and on Friday “broke”;
  • distractions. You need to answer phone calls, see notifications on your laptop and smartphone;
  • Temptations. When performing a complex task, which requires a lot of mental effort, the prospect of being distracted by the choice of hotel for the holiday looks very attractive, it is difficult to resist.

Not all of these reasons at any given time are relevant for a particular person: someone procrastinates because he is tired, the other – for fear of doing the job is not ideal. But the bottom line is that you’ve been chatting for two hours again, and the job hasn’t been done.

Here are some effective ways to overcome destructive behavior and make your day more productive.

Use PomodoroThe approach to organizing the working day, based on the separation of time into small equal intervals – “tomatoes”, Classic “tomato” lasts 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break, followed by a five-minute break, and after four tomatoes – a long break of 15 minutes.

To follow the plan clearly and not to be distracted by time tracking, you can use special “tomato” timers: there are applications for smartphone and computer, browser extensions. They remind you when the next “tomato” or break ends. Browser extensions are able to block access to preset sites for a while, while the “tomato” is ticking to save users from the temptation to stick in social networks when it is necessary to work.

Simple “tomato” timer in the browser

Timekeeping

Sometimes a person does not even notice that he has become an avid procrastinator.

To do this, you need to understand what literally every minute is spent on, otherwise some “time-eaters” can go unnoticed.

There are two ways to do this:

  • manually – to start a plate and fix in it all day with precision to the minute;
  • automatically – connect a service that will track your behavior on the computer.

The latter method is suitable if all your procrastination takes place in the digital space: social networks, YouTube, computer games. If you are distracted with a book on the couch, the system will simply record that you were not at the computer, and it is not informative. In this case, it is better to choose a table.

The table with the timekeeping of the day can look like this, only to achieve the goal it is worth describing every time span

Turn off notifications

Modern smartphones can make sounds almost every minute: parents communicate in school chat, brother wrote in a messenger to find out how things, the bank wrote off money, and the store gave a discount.

In order not to be distracted by the details, it is worth disabling the notifications. But it is important to do so so as not to miss anything important. For example, if in Telegram, in addition to channels, you have chats with customers, which is important to respond to immediately, do not disable notifications for the entire messenger. Put channels and flat chats in Mute mode, let the rest work. Or disable notifications for everyone, leaving a few exceptions. You can do the same with other applications.

Make time to check the mail. 

In any incomprehensible situation, check your email.

The desire to be in touch and immediately respond to important letters is commendable, but in fact we endlessly check the incoming not so. And because the brain is trying to switch from a difficult task to something simpler. And important letters do not come as often as we check the mail, and viewing the unimportant also takes time. In addition, even important letters may well wait 2-3 hours, and nothing terrible will happen. Exceptions are quite rare.

Therefore, you need to understand and accept that endless incoming checks are a waste of time. You can set a schedule for this task with a frequency of 2-3 times a day, and the rest of the time forget about it.

Step 3. Relax

It’s simple – you can’t work productively without a full rest. Even if you can live at the limit of opportunities for a week or a month, then it will necessarily be a long-term procrastination and undermined health. Therefore, if it is important to work productively at long distances, you can not do without quality rest.

Let’s remember the three main components of a full-fledged holiday.

Dream

It should be regular and full. Someone has enough 6 hours to feel cheerful and energetic, others a little 9. It is important to determine your need for sleep.

Also for healthy and full sleep is usually recommended:

  • To lie down and get up at the same time;
  • go to bed early, because in the first half of the night the body rests and recovers better. This is due to the action of melatonin and sleep phases;
  • don’t use gadgets for 2 hours before bedtime.

Physical activity

Work in digital spheres is mostly sedentary. Many work from home, which means that even on the way to work do not move. This lifestyle is fraught with health problems, which in turn lead to lethargy, apathy and reduced performance. What a productivity.

That is why it is so important to organize physical activity for yourself:

  • Sign up for a fitness club near your home;
  • go out and walk, ski, rollerblade, bike;
  • to do home workouts or at least do exercise.

Add physical activity to the schedule

Incorporating physical activity into your schedule can be difficult, especially if you have long been in a sedentary job and are accustomed to this way of life. But it is necessary for the first time to force yourself through force, to then feel that there was energy, the brain began to think faster, and the desire to procrastinate was lost.

Leisure and hobbies

It is good when work brings joy and pleasure, when you can do what you love and earn. However, even with such an ideal situation in life should be something other than work. Just because it’s important to switch, otherwise even the most favorite job can get bored.

Try to find yourself an interesting hobby and set aside for him a little time. You will see how to return to work will be even more pleasant, there will be new ideas and goals, as well as forces to achieve and implement them.

Bonus: A few useful tools

That’s probably all. These three steps should be enough to make your life more productive, richer and at the same time calmer. And finally, a few useful tools to help you take these three steps towards productivity.

For task and project planning:

To control the time:

To work on Pomodoro:

We wish to successfully build a system of personal efficiency and keep up.

Author: Thomas Simon

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