When I started working for myself full time, I no longer had traditional office hours and no longer had a boss looking over my shoulder to see how I spent my time. My efficiency and success is 100% determined by me. But working from home also offers its own set of challenges and distractions that can take away from being productive. (It is why I had to join The Wing after a year and a half of self employment!) But lately I’ve been subscribing to some great time management tricks that have me working more productively.
Avoid meetings smack dab in the middle of the day. There’s nothing like a 12 noon meeting to throw off your productivity and your eating schedule. It breaks up the day in a way that doesn’t feel productive and has me scrambling for the rest of the afternoon or working into the evening. It’s also a sure-fire way to ensure I don’t have lunch and then eat poorly all day. Since realizing this, I try and keep my meetings to breakfast, mid-morning or the afternoon if I can help it.
Pause your inbox. This is hands-down the best trick I’ve employed this year. Not only do I pause my work inboxes at the end of the work day and over the weekend, I have started pausing them when I need to be head’s down. Email is 100% my biggest distractor as I hate having unread items. I check the tabs of my three inboxes incessantly all day long and easily get de-railed every time I do. Do yourself a favor and install Boomerang to your email client and when you need a chunk of undistracted time, pause your inboxes and put your head down and do the work.
Set a timer. I talked about this trick here but it really is one of my favorite time management and productivity hacks. Have something that you want to get done? Set a timer and don’t stop working on it until the timer sounds. Distractions are my #1 productivity-interruptor but if I know the timer is running, I work more efficiently.
Put your cell phone on airplane mode. Anyone else easily distracted by Instagram throughout the day? We lose so many precious moments to scrolling during our work day that can take us away from leaving the office earlier or getting our to-do lists done in a faster manner. By putting my phone on airplane mode, I avoid picking up my phone and wasting time on apps.
Put your phone out of reach. Can’t be on airplane mode? Plug your phone in far from your reach so you can’t easily access it.
Schedule your to dos on your calendar. Like you would schedule meetings and appointments, slot in calendar appointments for your major to dos so you can ensure you have put aside the time for them.
Do the hardest thing on your to do list first. Don’t let the hardest or most nagging thing on your to do list hang over you. Sometimes when I wake up early I’ll just do the thing I don’t want to do that day right away. Then it’s over and done with and everything else feels less intimidating on my to do list for the day.
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Have any time management tips you swear by? I’d love to hear them!