This is shocking for a number of reasons. First, it shows that people are often working extra-long days unnecessarily. Second, people are only averaging about 37% of their daily productivity potential.
With that in mind, it stands to reason that if you could supercharge your productivity, you’d end up with more time that you could use to either squeeze in more valuable work each day or to simply take some well-deserved down time.
So, how can you increase your efficiency and productivity? We’ve compiled some techniques and tools to help you do it.
Time Management Techniques for Professionals
Boosting your efficiency and productivity means becoming a master of time management. So, it’s wise to incorporate one of these two popular techniques into your life.
1. The Pomodoro Technique
As human beings, our attention spans simply aren’t very long. It’s just our nature. So, trying to force yourself to sit down and work for multiple uninterrupted hours probably isn’t your best play.
That’s the philosophy behind the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in increments of 25 minutes followed by five minute breaks with a longer break after every fourth increment.
It works like this:
- Step 1: Pick a task
- Step 2: Set a 25-minute timer
- Step 3: Work until the time is up
- Step 4: Take a five-minute break
- Step 5: After every four increments, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes
The key to success with this technique is to make sure you eliminate distractions, like emails, texts, or work chats, for the full 25-minute period.
2. The Eisenhower Matrix
This technique, which was coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his years in office, is rooted in prioritizing tasks into one of four quadrants:
- Urgent + Important: These are tasks you have to react to, like emails, phone calls, and meetings, as well as those that are time-sensitive. These should be done first.
- Not Urgent + Important: Tasks in this quadrant contribute to your long-term goals but don’t have a tight deadline assigned to them. These should be scheduled for later but not prioritized immediately.
- Urgent + Not Important: If a task has a tight deadline associated with it but it isn’t necessarily important, you should find a way to delegate that task to someone else–whether it’s a team member or someone you outsource it to.
- Not Important + Not Urgent: If you’ve got something on your plate that’s neither important nor urgent, Eisenhower’s method dictates that it should be eliminated. This is the lowest possible priority and can be handled if and when you have time.
By getting an understanding of the importance of the individual tasks on your to-do list, you can better prioritize your day in order to get maximum value from every working moment.
4 Tools for Better Time Management
Once you’ve decided on a time management technique to try out, you can support your goals with some apps and tools. Here are our recommendations based on the most common efficiency sticking points.
Once you’ve prioritized your tasks, putting them in a basic to-do list can make a big difference. Not only does it help you stay organized, but the simple act of physically checking things off your list gives you small wins throughout your day. Todoist is a super simple, user-friendly tool that allows you to track, categorize, and schedule your tasks, make notes, and even set recurring items.
The app operates on a freemium model but it’s premium version is only around five dollars per month.
If you really want to supercharge your time management, it’s wise to get real data on where your workday goes. Check out Toggl, one of the most simple and user-friendly time-tracking tools on the market, which allows you to time your tasks on both a timer and a manual mode and even has the ability to record every program and website that you’ve viewed for longer than 10 seconds. This information can give you important–and honest–insights about how you spend your time so you can learn to even better allocate it.
Toggl’s free version offers more than enough features for single-person use but it also has a premium version more suited for teams that starts at $10 per month per user.
3. Command E
Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time scouring your virtual universe for something you need. Luckily, when you need to find pretty much anything on your computer and in your cloud, Command E is a great tool. This one simple free app lets you pull up documents, files, calendar invites, emails, and lists, all in one place.
If you spend a lot of time in meetings or on calls, sifting through calendars looking for a time that works can be a major time-suck. With Calendly, you can simply share a link that allows people to find a time that you’re free and to book a meeting in your calendar. It’ll even send them a calendar invite and include dial-in or video conferencing links. You can also embed this on your website for leads looking to get in touch.
By taking steps to master time management, your productivity will go through the roof and you’ll waste less of your day doing things that don’t matter.
Then, the big question will be what you decide to do with all the time you get back in your life.