The Biggest Mistakes You’re Making in Managing Your Time

Sometimes the best way to boost your productivity is to switch up your tools. Work smarter, not harder.
— from SoftwareHow

You have heard it before. It is important to work smarter, not harder. In my long career in learning and development, I have taught courses on time management, how to overcome procrastination and the difference between being productive and being busy. It’s in these sessions, with a boatload of individual contributors and managers at all levels, that I see the same thing over and over. People do not approach their workday deliberately. Moreover, without a plan, they tend to become distracted and more reactionary as the day goes on. Here are two things to do today to change that.

Have a To-Do List

Mapping out one's day may seem like a no-brainer, but many people don’t create daily or weekly To-Do Lists. Create a daily list that includes both your routine job tasks and any supporting activities that help you reach your goals (and keep your job). Consider getting a To Do List app. But, do your research and check reviews first!

Do your important stuff first

Every day you have priorities. If you have a daily To-Do list, you can figure out yours. Regardless of what they are, you need to focus on yours, or your day can quickly spin out of control.

Granted, you may get a real sense of accomplishment by starting your day by cleaning up your Inbox, but it’s not an effective strategy for optimal productivity. More times than not, once you start, you’ll feel compelled to answer not only the urgent and important ones but the unimportant ones too. If you know anything about the Johari Window you know it’s a mistake. Why? Because before you know it, it’s 10:45 and you’re rushing to prep for a meeting, or finishing up a report your boss needs.

Take some time to think about your typical work behaviors and identify your problem areas. A To-Do List app may be a helpful tool.

To recap:

  • You want to start with your essential tasks and move to minor tasks only after completing those.

  • Scan your inbox for emails that are urgent and important. Handle those and move on to other high priority tasks.

  • Create rules and alerts, so you know when important emails land in your inbox or another folder.

  • Check out productivity apps and find one that’s right for you.

  • Start at the top, hunker down, stay focused and knock it out.

Do you have any time management tips to share? Please do!

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