“How do you find time to fit everything in?” one of my recent emails read.
Ah, what a million-dollar question. The truth is, I regularly struggle with the way evenings disappear into nights without much happening, and how my best, most-focused hours are always spent at my day job rather than working away on my blog that I’m so passionate about. I live in awe of the way some people seem to have effortlessly successful side hustles, and I long to know their secrets. But…I’m working on it! So here are a few *realistic* time techniques that have been helping me be more productive lately.
1. I know that “done” is much better than “perfect.”
I spent years hiding behind the identity of a “perfectionist,” using my need for things to be perfect as an excuse not to finish them. But, if you want to be more productive, you need to realize that done is better than perfect. “Perfectionism” is just an excuse for procrastination. The solution is to take action. Like, right now. There’s never a perfect time to start a project; take a chance, and truly challenge yourself. The moment you shake off the shackles of “perfectionism” and start putting your stuff out there is the moment things start happening. So start now. Strive for completion.
2. I plan out my daily interruptions ahead of time.
Identifying when you’re most mentally awake is critical to leading a more efficient life. I achieve peak productivity by creating a routine that goes beyond the conventional 9-to-5 grind. In short, I tackle all of my most difficult tasks in the morning, and pre-plan my daily interruptions (which are mostly coffee and internet breaks) before my day starts. This way, I kill the temptation to procrastinate and am in control of my own time, rather than letting time control me. My schedule looks a little like this:
- Review content
- Attend meetings
- Browse Twitter
- Respond to emails
And it works!
3. I change my mindset.
“If only I had time to write that book/start that website/work on that project.” Sound familiar? I thought as much. But if an emergency came up, you know you would find the time to deal with it. Living the life you want is all about prioritizing. Those 15 minutes you spent browsing your ex-BF’s Instagram could have been spent writing the beginning of a blog post. Everyone has 15 minutes a day to spare (which comes out to seven hours a month, FYI). So spend less time watching TV and browsing the sidebar of shame whenever possible. You’re only observing other people’s success rather than doing things to create your own.
Besides, Netflix binges are so much more enjoyable when they’re earned. Trust me.
4. I follow the 10-minute rule for mundane tasks.
Mundane bits of life admin are painful, right? That’s why I only dedicate spare moments (e.g. while I wait for dinner to cook, or my laundry to finish) to accomplish as many boring life chores as quickly as possible. I don’t take any more than 10 minutes out of my day for these things, because there’s so much else I want to focus on! Think of how much you get done the day before you go on holiday, and try to recreate the attitude whenever you need to. It’s remarkable how much you can achieve while under the pressure of limited time.
Because it’s a known fact: The most effective individuals attempt tasks in short bursts of concentration.
5. I’ve learned to mono-task (rather than multi-task).
I’m a fan of what time management experts call the “Pomodoro Technique.” It couldn’t be simpler: while at work, focus on one thing for 25 minutes, and have a pre-planned break (as I mentioned above) to eat, drink coffee, or browse the internet. 25 minutes may sound easy…but that’s 25 minutes of focused work on ONE task. Think about what that means. No emails. No Facebook. No multi-tasking. Nada! Some people use an old school egg timer, and others claim apps like Focus Lock can help. Try a few tools and find the one that works for you. You’ll be amazed at how much your life improves as a result.
Bianca is a writer sharing honest musings on careers, creativity, money and more. She has interned at Vogue, consulted some of the biggest names in branding and e-commerce and currently leads the copywriting team at TripAdvisor. Follow her via her blog and on Twitter.
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