As one year comes to a close and another year begins, one of the most common sayings you hear is “where did the time go?” Time is something that always seems to get away from us, and something we have absolutely no control over. We do, however, have control over how we use that time. We’d all like more time to spend with our family, our hobbies, or just relaxing. Here are some tips on how to be more productive and make the most of your time.
Set a Daily Schedule
The to-do list is not a new concept, but it is an essential ingredient to having a productive day. Whether you make your to-do lists on post-it notes or use an electronic tool such as Wunderlist or Todoist, it’s something that should be done daily. Not only is it important to list the tasks that need to be completed, you should schedule a specific and realistic time frame by which each task should be completed. Setting deadlines for yourself throughout the day will help you avoid procrastinating.
Examine Your Internal Clock
Figure out what time of day you are the most productive, and schedule your most challenging tasks during that time frame. Don’t confuse your most productive time for your most awake time of day. You want to be the most focused at this time. For the time of day that you are the least focused, schedule your most mundane tasks that don’t require as much thought.
Get Energy Boosts from Smart Sources
You lose energy when you are hungry and tired. Eat snacks regularly throughout the day, but make sure you choose the right ones. Foods high in simple sugars will zap all of your energy, but foods high in protein and fiber will give you a healthy, long-lasting energy boost.
Regular breaks are also necessary to remain productive. The sun is a major source of energy, so if you start to lose focus, take a break and head outside for a few minutes.
Exercising and getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis are other ingredients to a productive lifestyle.
Don't Multitask, but Batch Together Similar Tasks
Contrary to the popular resume skill of multitasking, it is more efficient to focus on one task at a time. However, it does make sense to batch together tasks that are similar to one another. For example, if you have several phone calls to make, make them all in a row. You should also set aside time to respond to emails rather than interrupting what you are doing every time you receive an email throughout the day.
Whenever Possible, Automate
Don't waste time doing anything that a computer can do for you. At work, set up email rules to help you sort through your email. At home, use online banking to set up automatic bill payments and transfers.
You should also use a personal finance manager to set a budget and savings goals. Once you set up all of your accounts, your personal finance manager will do the rest of the work for you.
At the End of the Day, Clean Up and Reflect on Your Day
Take a look at your to-do list at the end of the day. Did you get everything done? If not, why? Did you put too many items on your list? Did you spend too much time on Facebook? Then, put everything you were working on away until the next day. Walking into a room or office filled with clutter can be daunting, so make a new do-do list for the following day and repeat tomorrow!
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