Time Management: 7 Tricks from the Pros

Time management professionals and gurus each have their own set of strategies and techniques that they recommend. We’ve found that some work better for us at WOW and we’re sharing them with you today.

1. Prioritize: A common problem people face is knowing what’s important and what’s not. When creating your to-do list utilize the time management matrix to the right to determine which items are urgent and important and which can be de-prioritized to the bottom of the list.

2. Do Quick Things Immediately: If you have several tasks on your to-do list that each take 5 minutes, get them all done immediately. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment getting them off of your plate and then you can move on to the larger items.

3. Dedicated Time: If you have a project that needs a significant amount of time and attention, dedicate a specific hour (or 3) to focus on it’s completion. Turn off distractions and commit to it’s completion during this time frame.

4. Time Inventory: If you find chunks of your day frequently going missing, take a few days to note and inventory where your time is being spent, down to the minute. Following the inventory process, evaluate what areas could be used more efficiently and make the necessary changes.

5. Calendar with Buffers: If you are often late, consider building in travel time to your calendar. For example, if an appointment is from 3-4pm and it takes 20 minutes to get there, schedule the appointment on your calendar from 2:40pm-4:20pm. This way you won’t over-extend yourself before or after the obligation.

5. Block-Off Email Time: Email is one of the biggest time-consumers of our day. Instead of checking emails as they come in, schedule specific times during the day to review and respond to emails. And remember, being the person who responds immediately to emails doesn’t always mean you are the most productive.

6. Eliminate the Unnecessary: Sometimes companies and individuals schedule meetings out of routine and not necessarily out of need. Review the meetings, calls, and regular appointments in your life and decide what is adding value. If the meeting is mandatory yet adds little value to your day, consider discussing how to improve or eliminate it with your management.

7. Focus, Focus, Focus: Many people have multiple roles (entrepreneur, employee, mother, wife, etc.) that each have different responsibilities. While multi-tasking can sometimes be effective, most of the time it hurts the overall output quality in one or more areas. Instead of juggling multiple roles, commit to focusing on just one role at a time, as much as possible.

What is your favorite time management trick?


Internet Time-Suck: How to Avoid the Temptation

The distractions of the internet are never-ending. Between social media, online articles, email, and instant messaging, one can waste hours of potentially productive time on essentially useless browsing. The graphic provided from Nielson research shows the average ways in which we use the internet. We are all guilty of the internet time-such, but some have more trouble with it than others. In order to curb this potentially detrimental habit, we have a few strategies:

1) Determine Why: There is usually a reason why you are drawn into the distraction of internet surfing. Perhaps its boredom, perhaps attention-deficit, or maybe it’s a stress reliever. However, if you understand the why, you can more easily shift the habit into something productive. For example, if you are distracted by internet surfing due to boredom, consider instead switching to a new work task that will re-engage your interest. If you’re looking for mindless stress-relief, perhaps a quick walk outside the building would provide a healthy release.

2) Internet Breaks: If you absolutely need a internet break, determine how much time you can afford to browse and set a timer to keep you to it. The site http://minutes.at/ offers a free timer service that allows you set hard time limits per site. When your time is up, use an app, such as Pocket, to bookmark any pages that you’d like to come back and read later, so that you aren’t tempted to stay a bit longer.

3) Total Browsing Limits: If you are the kind of person who finds themselves lost online for several hours a day, consider setting a weekly internet time allotment. For example, if it’s not for work or school, you will only allow yourself 2 hours per week of browsing time. Keep track of your total on a notepad or phone timer app.

4) Minimize Opportunity: If you are under deadline or need to concentrate on something at work, turn off access to internet distractions. Close down your browser window, turn off instant messaging, and silence your phone from receiving social media notifications. This strategy also works if you need the internet to complete part of the task. The difference is that you do all of your online research first, copy the information to an offline source and then close down the browser to complete the work.

5) Block Access: If you just can’t trust yourself to follow the above suggestions, there is a more serious option available. Services such as, Leech Block for Firefox and Chrome Nanny for Google Chrome allow you to set preferences of which sites will be unavailable for access during which times per day.

Although internet browsing can be a very enjoyable and appropriate activity, there are certainly times that all of us have stayed a bit too long. Hopefully with these tips, we can maximize efficiency and minimize the time-suck.

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