Whether you own your own business, work full-time, oversee a bustling household, or any combination of these—we all have more coming at us than ever before and it’s not unusual to find ourselves constantly busy!
Your time is precious—and having a way to streamline projects and tasks will help keep you on track and moving forward towards your big-picture goals and plans. It’ll also help to keep you from feeling stressed and overwhelmed from working hard but feeling like you’re not able to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
Let’s take a look at a few things that you can do to maximize your time and manage your days!
Define What Success Looks Like to You
First up, it’s important to ensure that the projects you’re working on are relevant, and then identify which task will help you take steps toward your goals. You’ll want to ensure that you’re spending your valuable time on things that will make a difference!
Start by taking stock of your daily activities. Ask yourself whether your short-term actions and long-term goals align. Why are you doing this project? Will it help you eventually reach your big-picture goals? As Stephen Covey suggested in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.”
Make sure your ladder is on the right wall before you begin!
Delegate When Possible
Next, automation! Is there a way to automate some of your mundane tasks? Things such as ordering groceries, paying bills, and even budgeting can all be automated to some extent. If you can’t automate it, consider delegating it. Delegate those tasks that don’t require you to personally oversee them and free yourself up to do those things that require your attention.
You could also look to simplify tasks as much as possible. For example, gain control of your inbox by setting designated windows for checking and responding to email, unsubscribe from emails that are clogging up your inbox, and ensure that you have spam filters enabled to block unwanted messages. Likewise, using a tool like Buffer to consolidate all your social media accounts into one interface will allow you to manage and update everything at one time, while scheduling out posts for the week.
Look to employ time-savers whenever the opportunity arises!
If you have a lot of similar tasks that need to be done, consider doing them in batches. This is a strategy that can help you to produce more in less time. It works especially well for projects like blog posts, reports, or even brainstorming and creating lists—such as a list of potential blog topics. Other tasks to batch include emailing, phone calls, and definitely your errands.
Group tasks together at the beginning of your week and notice your increased level of efficiency!
Not all tasks are created equal! To maximize your effectiveness, you’ll want to ensure that you’re assigning priority to important and urgent tasks. Steve Covey recommended using a time-management matrix to prioritize more effectively. In this matrix, you’ll have four quadrants that you can assign tasks to, making it easy for you to prioritize tasks by level of importance.
Here’s a look at the quadrants now:
Quadrant I: Important tasks that need to be done are considered quadrant-one tasks—and should be completed as soon as possible. This includes deadlines, important pressing issues that arise, and of course, emergencies.
Quadrant II: Things that are that are important, but not urgent go into the next quadrant. These are tasks that need to be done, but aren’t as time-sensitive. Pencil in time during the week to complete them.
Quadrant III: Tasks and issues that are high urgency, but less important should go into quadrant three. These are things that you should look to delegate, automate, or batch when possible.
Quadrant IV: Finally, we have things that aren’t urgent and aren’t important. These are time-wasters such as entertainment—and should ideally be reserved for breaks, or unwinding at the end of the day.
Assign Time Slots
Instead of jotting down all of your tasks in an endless to-do list, look to create order out of the chaos! Assigning each task a time slot can help to ensure that they actually get done. Not only will this help you to you achieve more, but it can also save you from the stress of a long, daunting to-do list. You will also be able to see, at a glance, whether there’s room for additional tasks or projects.
Finally, if you have a lot of work to finish you’ll want to treat the process like a marathon, not a sprint! Instead of spending all of your energy during the early stages, and getting burned out before noon, remember—you’re going to want to pace yourself to keep up your momentum. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and avoid too much sugar or caffeine, which can lead to spikes and then crashes later. Eat healthy snacks—including veggies and protein, to keep up your energy levels. Ensure that you take breaks after you finish your tasks, and spend a few minutes here and there to refresh and recharge. It’s important to find a healthy balance and allow yourself some ‘breathing time’ throughout the day to ensure the hours you are working are optimized to the highest capacity.
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Streamlining efficiency doesn’t have to be hard or extreme. Often the simplest solutions work the best so don’t be afraid to try new systems that seem like they’ll help to reduce your workload! Check in to be sure that your tasks are aligned with your goals, and then prioritize in order of importance and urgency. Look to fine-tune and streamline your systems, and your tasks will be far less overwhelming. In the end, you’ll have more time, less stress, and ideally more success as well!