As an entrepreneur, I’ve tried almost everything under the sun to be productive every day: from writing down to-do lists to installing various apps on my phone; from old-school techniques to fresh concepts; from using pen and paper to relying solely on Google Calendar. But I’ve found only a few things that actually work, and in this blog post, I’m going to share them with you.
If you’re not into long articles, here’s the video version:
Here are my 10 time management tips for work:
1. Don’t Look at Your Phone First Thing in the Morning
I can’t stress this enough! I’m definitely guilty of checking my email or the most recent comments on my YouTube channel right after I meditate. But that’s such a bad idea!
Your morning is your most productive part of the day because your mind is a blank canvas and whatever you feed it with, that’s exactly how your day is going to turn out. If you don’t give yourself time to reflect and be aware of your own thoughts, you will quickly get swept by all the things happening out there in the world.Every morning, you need to have a 'human' thought first before everyone else wants you to do something for them. Click To Tweet
Try not to look at your phone for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Use this time to reconnect with yourself, set your priorities straight, and make a to-do list for the day if you haven’t done it the night before (which is even better).
2. Make a To-Do List That Consists of 5 Things
In the first year of starting my coaching business, I made these impossible to-do lists that consisted of free discovery calls, working with paid clients, answering emails, making social media graphics, recording podcast episodes, shooting videos, editing, writing blog posts, etc.
I burned out so many times that I realized it was simply not humanly possible to do all of these things in one day. So, the first thing I did was to allow myself to work on only 5 work-related tasks per day.
You can prioritize them by importance, or do the longest one first to get it out of the way, or simply write them down and wing it. Experiment and find out what works best for you.
The other thing I did was to teach myself to do the hardest task first thing in the morning, which leads me to my third tip:
3. Eat the Frog
As Mark Twain once said:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Eating the frog means to just do it, otherwise, the frog will eat you meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating the entire day.
If you have a problem with procrastinating, I just made a video on how to stop it:
Now, let’s go back to the ‘eat the frog’ concept.
When you tackle your hardest task first thing in the morning, everything else will seem like a breeze. If you take away just one time management tip from this article, I think this one will do wonders for you.
4. Batch Similar Tasks Together
I learned this concept from Tim Ferriss. Batching similar tasks in one day will help you stay focused and build momentum way quicker.
Here’s what I mean: if you have a podcast, batch record 2-3 episodes in a day. If you shoot videos for YouTube or you’re a course creator, squeeze in as much as you can in one day. Take client calls in one day, write blog posts and social media captions another day, etc.
This will help you with being more efficient and getting better results.
5. Put Your Phone Away
Not looking at your phone first thing in the morning sounds great, but what about after that? I’m sure you’ll need to use your phone at some point throughout the day, but I have a great solution when you’re blocking out time to do a task: put your phone on Airplane mode, leave it in another room, or at least turn off your notifications so you don’t get distracted.
Working from home has proven to be way more challenging than it seemed in the very beginning and when it comes to getting rid of my phone, I’ve done it all: putting it in a drawer, using Airplane mode, ‘accidentally’ leaving it in the other room. The only thing that works for me is to turn it off.
It creates more friction: to turn it on, write your passcode, etc.
Of course, you don’t have to go to such extremes. Maybe turning off your notifications will be enough for you.
6. Do One Thing at a Time
Honestly, multitasking used to be my favorite thing, but I found that I spent way too much energy managing multiple tasks at once, and my anxiety levels would skyrocket. So, if you’re anything like me, I suggest you give monotasking a try.
Doing one thing at a time may seem a bit weird at first, but when you dedicate your undivided attention to one task only, you’ll see how faster you’ll get it done.
7. Use the Pomodoro Technique
I won’t spend too much time on this one, because most of you are probably familiar with this technique. But to give you the gist of it: it’s all about breaking down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks, for example, 5 minutes.
There are many apps that use the Pomodoro technique. What I’ve recently found out are apps that let you grow a virtual garden of trees! Yup, that’s pretty cool for accountability as well. If you’re struggling with looking at your phone while working, this will kill 2 birds with one stone.
If you want to plant a tree, you need to finish your task without interrupting the 25-minute timer. How cool is that?! (Major nerd alert.)
8. Use the 5-Second Rule
If you’re a long-time subscriber of mine, you knew this was coming! The 5-second rule by Mel Robbins is very simple: If you have the instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. Count down from 5: 5,4,3,2,1, and do it!
I use this rule so many times throughout the day that I consider it a habit at this point. Anytime I feel any type of resistance, I move into action. It’s incredibly effective and I highly recommend you give it a try.
9. Keep It Fun and Interesting
Of course, not every task is going to be intriguing or even mildly entertaining. But if you don’t find ways to spice it up, you will lose your momentum pretty quickly. Here’s how to have more fun while being productive at the same time:
Use gamification techniques such as giving yourself a small reward after finishing a hard task, or use apps that track your progress and you level up every time you finish your to-do list for the day.
If you want to have more fun in life, listen to this podcast episode:
10. Use Calendar Blocking
This is a recent one for me. I resisted trying it for a very very long time because I considered myself a free spirit. But if you want to get results and grow your business quickly, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices.
Calendar blocking is all about blocking chunks of time to do certain tasks and scheduling them into your calendar.
You can map out your day and write down tasks, for example, 7-7:30 am – morning routine; 7:30-8 am – yoga; 8-10 am – writing a blog post, etc.
One tip I learned from my own experience is to give yourself more time than you think it’s going to take you to do a certain task.
For example, if you’re thinking that writing a blog post will take you an hour, schedule 2. Let’s not forget drinking water, eating, taking breaks, etc. You need to consider short breaks as well.
As far as calendar blocking goes, I use Google Calendar. If you put your tasks on the calendar, it will not only be visually pleasing to look at but you will also be able to put some of them on repeat.
The second productivity tool that I swear by is The Productivity Planner. It’s based on the Pomodoro technique and it’s great for self-reflection and setting goals for the week.
If you’re constantly feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, that’s a sign you need to stop for a second and take a good look at your priorities. One of the best ways to do that is to download my free cheat sheet with the top 98 core values and determine what’s truly important to you:
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