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Mastering Time Management and Productivity Tools

What would you do if you had an extra two hours each day?  Mastering time management and productivity tools can help you to organize your day to increase productivity while reducing stress.  In fact, being organized will help you in all parts of your life.

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To remain organized, there are two questions that you can ask on a regular basis to keep yourself focused on getting your most important tasks completed on schedule. The first question asks, “What are my highest value activities?” Secondly, “What are the most important tasks I have to complete to make the greatest contribution to my organization? To my family? To my life in general?”  Remember the 80/20 Rule that states, “20% of work produces 80% of results.” You do not have to work all of the time; you just need to work smart.

When you answer these questions, your task priorities will automatically fall into place.

Although there are hundreds of time management tools available on the Internet, you have to choose which ones will work for you and your situation.  The following list includes some of my favorites:

  1. Make a list of things you can accomplish in 15 minutes or less. When you are waiting for a meeting to start or waiting for an appointment, complete one or two of these shorter tasks.
  2. The next item is an obvious one: Always use a planner (either electronic or paper.) The planner should allow you to plan your day, your week, your month and your year, to be totally effective. I work off of a master list of items that I plug into certain dates throughout the year.
  3. Write down every task that needs to be accomplished in your planner and prioritize your list.
  4. Control electronic media.
    1. Return calls in a group to avoid regular distractions throughout the day.
    2. Turn the alerts off on your phone.
    3. Close social media accounts.
    4. Return emails in a group to avoid constant interruptions.
    5. Turn off the TV.
    6. Learn keyboard shortcuts.
  5. Maintain your health to reduce stress and improve energy levels.
    1. Exercise each day.
    2. Eat healthy meals
    3. Sleep 7 – 9 hours each night.
  6. Create a “stop doing” list. What can you delegate to others? What tasks do not add value to your goals? To determine what you can stop doing, you may want to use a chart created by Emily Schwartz in her book, “The Time Diet:”

Is What I’m Doing Worth It?

Thing I Do Amount of Time it Takes What I Gain from It Worth it? (Yes or No)
1.
2.
3.
4.
  1. Create a contingency plan for when the unexpected happens.
    1. What if the Internet goes down?
    2. What if your computer gets a virus?
    3. Do you have a regular back-up system set up to ensure you do not lose files?

Although we cannot avoid all emergencies, we can plan for them in advance to reduce their impact.

  1. Overcome procrastination. Sometimes, we know what areas of improvement we need to work on, but we may procrastinate either finding a solution or applying a solution to solve our weaker areas. Mind Tools mentions several tools to help you avoid procrastination.
  2. Ask for help! Have you ever asked anyone for help when you cannot manage your schedule?
  3. To multitask or not? Although we live in a society that forces us to be proficient at multi-tasking, we need to be careful and to consider alternative options. In the long run, multi-tasking can affect our health. In general, when working on projects that require your full attention, avoid multitasking.

Adult college students in the online Fremont Business Leadership Degree Program use many of these time management tips to enable them to obtain a degree while working and caring for families. They have learned that the key to success is to harmonize their schedules with their goals. In fact, online students improve their time management skills by pursuing a degree program!

In essence, our goals should dictate how we manage our time and why we do what we do. What steps can you take to ensure that your time is well invested toward your life goals?  For instance, some students may enroll in Fremont’s Business Leadership Degree Program to fulfill their dream of becoming active professionals; along the way they learn how to increase their productivity to achieve this goal.

What can you do today to increase your productivity by working smarter?

“Never say you don’t have enough time….You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” — Author Unknown

*In no way does Fremont College promise or guarantee employment or level of income/wages.

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