There are lots of people out there willing to teach you how to be a “time-hacker”. Once you cut through the noise, they essentially say the same things.
From industry specialists to your next door neighbour, everyone wants to tell you how to improve your sh*t. Productivity experts are no different. However, their teachings all are variations of the same key principles. And guess what? They work. Successful companies spend a lot of time and money to help their teams to learn and adopt these systems. There’s a lot of different schools of thought that exist around productivity and time management. Here are the high level themes that extend across nearly all of them.
High level themes.
- Prioritize work and set deadlines
- Break down projects into manageable steps
- Delegate tasks when appropriate
- Block time to do work
- Focus on the task at hand and resist the urge to multitask
- Define processes to improve productivity
TLDR: Gender Equality? Yes. Task Equality? No.
Ever been busy all day but barely moved the needle? Frustrating, isn’t it? The answer: be ruthless. You must determine what IS and what IS NOT important. Don’t beat around the bush. Many time-management systems will use the old 80/20 rule – 80% of the impact will come form 20% of the things you do. Here, it is essential that you create a priority ranking. You must make decisions to determine if a task is important. If yes – how important?
Projects = a series of manageable, related tasks.
TLDR: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You can quickly get in over your head if you try to tackle a project as one big thing. Once your start to approach your projects as a series of sequential and dependent tasks, a project becomes much easier to tackle. When projects are broken down into manageable chunks of time it’s simple to share the workload across team members. Even if you are the solo pilot on the project, this approach will help ensure you hit deadlines without forgetting the little things.
Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!
TLDR: If you have a team, learn to use it. Don’t go 1 on 5. Pass the ball.
Team, noun: a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project. If you have a team – use them. For effective delegation, you must understand the capacity of the person you are delegating to. Do they have time to do what we are asking them? Can they do it within our timeline? Give a clear description of the task that frames the work required. Give them the tools they need to accomplish the tasks (e.g. files, docs, links, etc.) to reduce ambiguity. Next, clearly define your expectations in terms of effort and time allotment. A task titled “Research competition” could be a multi-week project, or could be a 2 hour quick research task. The final piece is telling them when you expect it. No one likes to go back and ask if something is done – a clear due date makes everyone happy :).
Block time to crush it.
TLDR: Allocate time for work the same way you allocate time for meetings.
Many of us live at the mercy of our calendars. The smart ones around us are taking the calendar to the next level and blocking task time. But how did we get here? It all started with group calendars. Since the calendar is rather binary, you either have a meeting or you don’t. And to many this equates to: busy/not busy. What a glorious load of bullsh*it! When does the work get done? How can you battle the phenomenon of “no work/all meeting” scheduling? Allocate time in your calendar to work. This allows your work to be on an even playing field with those tedious team meetings.
FOCUS!!! Don’t fall for the myth of multitasking.
TLDR: Give up the false bravado of the multitasker. It doesn’t work.
Everyone believes they have this ability to juggle things. And often you can for short spurts. But as a long term strategy, it will fail you. According to a recent study by The University of California, every distraction takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task. Eliminate the distractions and focus on the task at hand. We live in a world of constant bombardment – texts, email, messaging, snapchat – it goes on. Focus, and turn off the external attention seekers. Take it from a CPO: in order to keep focused, you must blur the unimportant to get the job done. So, ignore that email, mute the notifications, and put away your new iPhone X. Trust me. Everything will be right there waiting for you when you’re done.
Trust the process.
TLDR: Smart companies have the work processes in place and are continuously improving them.
The best companies in every category have figured out how to do things better than the competition. How? They focus on improving their internal work procedures. So why should you be any different? Take the time to define your processes by determining the steps that you and your team need to take to be successful. Once established, follow this approach for a few projects and keep track of your outcomes. Then, take time to review the results and further refine the process. This continual pursuit of improvement will help you outperform your competition, both in terms of getting sh*t done and the bottom line.
So, where do you go from here?
TLDR: It’s not easy to manage your time effectively, find the tool that works for you.
It used to take a lot of time to be super organized. It used to take a lot of tools to be super organized. Now, you can keep track of everything in your life and your work from one device. But with so many apps out there, which one enables you to effectively prioritize work, manage projects, delegate, focus and refine your processes? It was this very question that lead to the creation of TimeHero.
TimeHero is a task management solution which provides the ability to automatically schedule, track, and prioritize work around your team's calendar. It works with much the same as an assistant would. It plans your days with the most important things that you have to accomplish, and changes your schedule as new events come up. Our predictive engine alerts you when tasks are planned too close to their deadlines. So you can know today that next month’s project is going to be late.
Get Started for free! It’s time you and your team go from time-wasters to TimeHeroes!