Time management techniques for a productive workday


Humans are creatures of routine. We build our working lives around habits. But many of our everyday work behaviours have simply accumulated over the years – and they may not be the most productive.

Kate Adams, the founder of online gift and card store Thankly, prizes habit-building over short term life hacks. Habits, she says, let her make baby steps of progress every single day.

“You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. I focus on changing my daily habits for long-term improvement,” she says.

By tweaking your old habits or adopting new and better behaviour patterns, you can fine tune your workday routine to squeeze maximum productivity – and profitability – out of the hours available.

Here are five tips to make it happen:

Script your workday

“If you don’t plan your day, someone else will.” That’s business coach Dan Kennedy’s famous maxim.

So how do you take control of your day? Script it out beforehand.

Scripting your workday – or week – may sound complicated, but it’s really just a time-based to-do list. What do you want to get done by 9.30am? By 10am? How long should each task take?

Scripting lets you sharpen your focus.

You can plan to protect the precious hours when you work best. You might block out two hours in the morning or afternoon for more intensive tasks, such as writing reports or brainstorming, or set aside admin time and do tasks like email in batches rather than responding to each new notification.

Scripting only takes five minutes – and can save you many wasted hours.

Build in breaks and exercise

We are not built to work like robots. Staring at a computer for eight hours isn’t as productive as mixing work, breaks and exercise.

You’ll rarely have a new insight if you spend all day staring at a screen. For fresh thinking, you need to get away from your desk.

That can be as simple as a brisk walk. One 30-minute block of exercise and several shorter breaks should be enough for most people to feel refreshed – and significantly more productive.

A good way to make sure you build in breaks and exercise is the Pomodoro technique.

Work expands to fill the time available for it. The Pomodoro technique counters this by limiting your active work time to 25-minute bursts. Then you take a five-minute break. After four bursts, take a longer break.

This method is designed to help you stay focused and avoid the feeling that you’re pushing through quicksand.

combining work breaks with exercise


Delegate to people or software

If you’re scripting your workday, you’ll soon find out if any less-important tasks are siphoning away your precious time.

A good way to reclaim time is to delegate these tasks.

It can be hard to delegate – especially for small business owners used to doing almost everything themselves.

But handing over ongoing tasks such as bookkeeping or managing your calendar can free you up for higher-value work, such as meeting customers directly and coaching staff.

You can also free up your time with a range of new productivity-enhancing software.

To save time and valuable mental space, consider using a password manager like 1Password and note taking apps synced to the cloud like Clear (iOS) or Wunderlist.

Using your phone as a personal assistant


Through voice-activated artificial intelligence, smart assistants, such as Siri (iOS) and Google Now (Android and iOS) are surprisingly useful for everything from alerting you to traffic congestion to quickly sending simple messages. If you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, you’ve got a pretty good personal assistant.

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