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.
Over the years I’ve gotten better and better about effective time management and have honed on the things that make me better use my time.
If you’re looking for ways to spend your time effectively, these tips should help.
Time Management Tips to Swear By
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.
Focus on output vs. input
This one really shifted my perspective that I learned from this book. Thinking about what things during your day that provide the greatest output to your long term goals is a great mind shift – especially if you are prone to distractions.
For example, if you’re like me, your email distracts you – but often isn’t the most high value input. So instead spend your time on things that really give good output.
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
This is really 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. I even use this for something like unpacking after a trip or cleaning my apartment. I set a timer for 30 minutes and get to work! If you’re a fan of working in time blocks, you’ll appreciate this tip.
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. And minimize sounds so notifications aren’t distracting you. This also helps me minimize my time spent on social media! Aka one of the biggest time wasters.
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. I find this particularly helps when it comes to making sure I do my workouts and tackle larger projects that I know will take me longer.
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 the important tasks are over sooner and everything else feels less intimidating on my to do list for the day.
Bundle your Phone calls
I always try to bundle my phone calls on one or two days of the week so I am not getting interrupted by lots of meetings throughout the week. This is, of course, easier for me to do being self employed but I generally don’t do calls Mondays or Fridays and instead focus on scheduling Zooms and other forms of meetings on Tuesday through Thursday.
Group your tabs on Chrome
I love the Group Tabs function of Google Chrome. It allows me to separate my businesses and minimize each so I can better focus on what I am working on vs. constantly toggling between tasks. It’s been a big improvement in my productivity and I hope it’ll help in managing your time as well.
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Do you have any effective time management tips you swear by? I’d love to hear them!