Time Management Tools To Help You Boost Productivity
Updated December 18, 2018
Miles Davis said, "Time isn't the main thing. It's the only thing." and how true that is. When you are good at managing your time, you are more productive and end the day with a list of accomplishments. You end the day feeling frazzled, tired, and confused on how you got so few things completed when you aren't good at managing your time. Luckily, there are lots of time management tools to help us turn things around.
If you find that you are struggling to manage your time properly, here are some of the best time management tools available to help you be more productive:
Extensions To Help You Stay On Task
It's easy to fall down the rabbit hole when working online. Checking social media for just 5 minutes can easily turn into hours of wasted time. It's so tempting to check Facebook or another site for just a minute when you feel stuck on a difficult part of your assignment, but that does nothing to help you. But, there are apps designed to help you stay on track. While there are a bunch out there to choose from some of the popular ones are Stay Focused and Self-Control.
You can set up the Self-control extension on your computer, so you can take back control of your time. Once it's installed, you can type in the websites that you don't want to visit and the length of time that you want to be blocked from them. For example, if you are wanting to work for 2 hours without being tempted to check your social media or email, you can enter the websites into Self-Control along with the 2 hour time period. Then, if you try to visit one of those sites during the two-hour time period, you will see a bright orange screen with the words "stay focused." This quickly reminds you to get back to work and doesn't allow you on the site that you have blocked.
Stay Focused helps you accomplish the same thing but in a different way. With Stay Focused you actually set the amount of time that you are allowed to be on certain sites throughout the day. That means if you want to have access to social media throughout the day you can until you hit your time limit. Once that happens you aren't allowed to visit the site anymore until the next day comes. You can also establish work hours if you want to limit your time only during certain time periods. Then, the remainder of the day you are free to do as you please.
Don't Be Distracted By Your Email
Checking email can kill your productivity. When you check emails, your time shifts from dealing with your own agenda to dealing with the agenda of others. Here are a few tools to help you take back control of your email and eliminate the amount of time that you waste.
Boomerang allows you to control when emails come into your inbox and when you send them out. This allows you to put email back into your agenda instead of allowing it to control you. Instead, you are able to do your work as you need and check your email when the time is right for you. And, if you need to access your inbox during a time when you don't want to check email, it's totally fine because no new emails will be there waiting for you. Instead, they are put on hold until you are ready to look at them.
You can select how many hours you want to pause your inbox or choose an exact time that you want to receive your new messages. You can also choose if you want to have your email sent out directly when you type it or delay it for another time as well.
The Email Game
The Email Game makes you deal with checking your email quickly. When you start checking your email, you start the game, and you have a limited amount of time to decide if you are going to skip the email, for the time being, file it, delete it, or act on it. The faster you go, the better your score is. The more emails you keep in your inbox, the lower your score will be. This helps you to make quick decisions. If you want to respond to an email later, you can have it boomerang back in the future. This will show the email as unread which helps you to track what needs your attention and what doesn't.
Pomodoro Time Management
The Pomodoro technique helps you work extremely focused on an activity for a specific period of time. While you can tailor it for your own use, the actual Pomodoro technique is 25 minutes of work broken up with 5-minute breaks. Every fourth break you extend to a longer time period, like a 15 or 30-minute break. This helps you train your mind to stay focused while you are working and rewards your work with breaks.
This technique is especially great if you work at a computer or sitting down. Every time your timer goes off, it's a great reminder to get up, stretch, and move around. This can help you become more active and less sedentary while also boosting your productivity.
Track Your Time
The world is a busy place. Do you feel like you are running around all day trying to get a million things done and at the end of the day, you aren't exactly sure what you did? If you can identify with this, then it's time to start tracking what you do all day. There are tons of apps out there to help you do this. You can also use good old fashioned pen and paper
Spend one week tracking how you spend your time. Write down when you go to the restroom, when you use social media when you cook dinner, and when you are working. If you literally track each minute for a week, you will find areas that you could improve. It will show you where you are wasting time in your day.
You can install programs like Rescue Time on your device that helps you track your activities. Then, you receive a breakdown report of where your time was spent when online. It's hard to argue with the facts when you see them.
Eliminate The Paper Clutter With Evernote
It's easy to waste a lot of time looking for what you need. When you organize your space, both work, and home, you help to eliminate the time that you waste in trying to find what you need. Evernote is a great tool to use to help with your paper clutter.
You can use Evernote as a digital file cabinet. You can type in notes, upload pictures, save articles you find online, and even email yourself information with notes. One of the best things about Evernote is its search capability. Once you have a document or image saved in Evernote, you can actually search for a word in Evernote, and it will help you find what you are looking for. It is even able to search words in pictures that you have taken, including your handwritten notes.
If you find that you waste a lot of time looking for that paper in the stack on your desk or your kitchen counter than this is a good step to take. You reduce clutter and stop wasting so much time.
Use A Planner
With all the online tools, apps, and calendars available it's easy to forget about using a simple planner. There are many printed planners to choose from. Many people find the most effective planner gives them to the ability to see the month at a glance and then a breakdown of each day. Then you can schedule activities and plan your day.
It's easy to plan too much for one day when you aren't properly keeping track of what you are trying to get done. By using a planner to keep work and personal agendas together, you can properly schedule your time. This can also help you see areas you might need to cut from your schedule or things that could be combined or delegated.
Are You Suffering From A Lack Of Motivation?
You might have a hard time getting things accomplished even when you have all the right tools in place. There are many reasons you could struggle, and one of them could be mild or severe depression. If you find that you are having a difficult time accomplishing your tasks, or even caring if you do, then time management tools might not help you. It might be time to talk to a therapist that can help you get to the root of the problem.
BetterHelp has professionals available that can work with you throughout online sessions. This will help you to not only overcome your time management struggles but the root cause behind them as well. With many professionals available you can find one that you are the most comfortable with.