3 ways to fix your time management problems
You can download all the productivity apps and set all the reminders you want. However, if you don’t fix your time management problems, nothing is going to lead you to better productivity.
I got really frustrated trying to use different tools without solving the root problem – time management. Fixing my time management problems required a lot of honesty about how distracted I truly was. Here are a few of the easy ways I turned that around and learnt to manage my time better.
1. Time how long it takes you to complete tasks
I’ve had a really hard time being honest with myself about how long it takes me to complete a certain task. I seem to have a great plan for how my whole schedule is going to work out. But I then underestimate how long I’ll spend on a task. This messes up the whole day. Many of us do this and it’s extremely frustrating. To avoid feeling piled under the pressure of unfinished tasks, you’re much better off knowing exactly how long you need for certain tasks.
To get an accurate estimate of how long a task will take, create a general list of tasks you typically have to do and use a basic timer on your phone. It’ll surprise you how long some things actually take you. Of course, you can be a little fancier. Toggl is a great tool that allows you to hit “start” and track different tasks and projects to see how your productivity varies throughout the week. The app gives you a complete figure of how much time you spend on each task. This way, you can better schedule tasks for the appropriate day, so you can more likely get them done in time. You won’t be moving over unfinished tasks to the next day and the next, and so on.
For timing our team’s tasks and tracking our time management, we use the Hibox task timer built right into our digital workspace.
2. Be honest with how much time you spend on distractions
Once I took a look at how much time I spent on my tasks, I started to wonder why they took so long. One of the hardest things to come to terms with is how much time you waste on distractions. A lot of people think they work 8 hours a day, but on average only 3 hours spent at work are productive. You’re likely getting much less done in more time than you think. With the whole world at our fingertips, it’s too easy to get distracted when working, especially online.
Try RescueTime for time tracking. With a quick download, it automatically tracks how much time you spend on work, various “distraction” sites, and other personal tasks on your desktop. It’s an easy, effortless way to get a truly honest view of how you’re spending your day at your desk. Once you know the truth, you can start learning to refocus yourself and stay accountable for your time management.
3. Put a due date and time on everything
I always find myself saying “I’ll do this” but making the mistake of never actually quantifying when. When you set a deadline, it becomes more of a must than a far-off wish. If you never set a due date or time to a task or project, you’ll allow yourself to procrastinate. To help motivate yourself, make due dates for every task as soon as you think about it and write it down. If you can, challenge yourself to only record tasks on a calendar. The problem with jotting things down on a list is that they’re just tasks waiting in line – there’s no real due date or sense of urgency. Knowing there’s an added pressure of a deadline will help you get serious about making the time.
Productivity was wishful thinking whilst ignoring my time management problems. In all honesty, I’m still going to get distracted from time to time, and not always complete all my set tasks for that day. But, by being honest with myself and having a plan, I’ve seen a huge difference in my productivity. Try out these tips and see if works for you, too!