Now that we’re three months into the year, we can gauge whether those new year’s resolutions are in full effect. For some, completing those goals on a consistent basis is no problem. However for others, time could be passing you by or have a slower time completing those goals. In any case, it doesn’t hurt to do some fine-tuning with your time management skills to ensure that you continue to have a successful 2022.
Here are five easy ways you can improve your productivity and avoid procrastination or burnout!
1. Do a ‘Brain Dump’
Before you can complete any tasks or project, it’s always good to do a little planning beforehand. Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., mentions in Psychology Today that mental clutter is almost as stressful as physical clutter. Constantly thinking about the tasks that need to get done without having an organized process for doing so might make anyone feel stressed.
To avoid this, you can make a simple to-do list. Or take it to the next level by doing a ‘brain dump.’ Business coach RebeccaLynn Bologna mentions in Lifehack that brain dumps involve writing down everything that’s on your mind. This can include any new ideas, important to-do’s and random thoughts.
From there, you can categorize these thoughts accordingly and prioritize what needs to get done in the immediate or not-so-distant future. Once those thoughts are organized, you can then make a to-do list. “By doing an effective brain dump, you release all of the information your brain tries to store and allows you to decide what is important,” she writes.
Bologna suggests taking 10 minutes every night to do this exercise for the following day. That way, you have a clear cut plan of what your day should look like to better manage your time.
2. Establish Boundaries (It’s OK to Say “No”)
To enhance your time management skills, it’s important to know when to say “no” because you might be sidetracked and procrastinate. Or you could also get overburdened by taking on extra tasks and projects, which often leads to burnout.
So to simply put it, establishing boundaries helps you stay focused on the things that are necessary to finish in the moment. And regulate anything that isn’t pressing to a later time. This is much easier said than done. But, the sooner you say “no” to things that don’t need your immediate attention or energy, the better as you’ll avoid taking on more than you can handle.
3. Apply the 15-Minute Rule
A lot of times we think that we have to spend hours completing a task whether it’s big or small. However, even spending as little as 15 minutes can go a long way to finishing a project over time. Take it from British journalist and author Caroline Buchanan who wrote the book The 15-Minute Rule.
“The 15-minute rule sets out to conquer procrastination and allow us to tackle those things that we are always putting off: starting an exercise regime, looking for a new job, doing our tax returns or learning a new skill,” she says on her website.
In her 2017 Ted Talk, Buchanan suggests starting this practice by doing only one 15 minute work session every day for three days. It’s a good idea to set an alarm on your phone before each session to avoid having to keep track of time on your own.
The first two sessions should involve stopping all work exactly when 15 minutes has gone by even if you’re in a creative zone. But, the third work session can go over the 15 minute period and stop when you feel tired or need a break. You can repeat this cycle as often as you need in a given week or month until the task is fully done. She notes that this is a more fun and flexible way of completing projects (big and small) over time.
Watch Buchanan’s full Ted Talk on the 15-minute rule in the video below.
4. Outsource and Delegate Tasks When Possible
We’re all probably guilty of taking on more than we can handle. This is especially true if you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner. Time management is a valuable tool to adopt early on as it not only helps you grow and expand your business. But also, it allows you to have a solid work/life balance.
This is why it’s key to outsource and delegate tasks to others when possible. Marketing expert Sujan Patel writes in Inc. that small activities that take away from your productivity are better known as “time-wasters.” These tasks could range from obsessing over the graphic design for a social media post to grocery shopping.
Luckily, he lists the seven important tasks that you should look into outsourcing and some of the best services that can help you do so with a fee (a worthy investment since time is priceless!).
1. Scheduling appointments, meetings and coordinating reservations
2. Gathering research and data (Upwork.com)
4. Everyday tasks such as picking up laundry and buying groceries (TaskRabbit)
5. Serious administrative tasks including payroll, managing orders and answering phone calls (Zirtual)
6. Content marketing (also Upwork.com)
7. Social media management (Hootsuite)
5. Take Much Needed Breaks
Learning how to manage your time better isn’t solely about maximizing your productivity. It’s also about knowing when you’re not able to give 100 percent to the task at hand. So taking breaks when needed helps your body and mind to rest and recharge.
Author and technology consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D., explains in Greater Good Magazine that our brain still works even during rest. He notes that this is the time when the brain engages its “default network” to seek new information and come up with answers to problems.
“We may not be able to control these processes completely,” he writes. “But by learning to rest better, we can support them, let them work and take notice when they uncover something that deserves our attention.”
Pang offers a few simple solutions to encourage this process by establishing an early morning routine, stopping work when you like you’re running low on energy and getting enough sleep at night. Even midday activities such as taking a walk or a quick nap are effective for avoiding burn out, according to Pang. “Rest is not idleness. It is the key to a better life,” he concludes.
Thanks to these helpful time management tips, you’re sure to be on your way to knocking out important goals, tasks and projects with ease!