10 Time Management Tips to Increase Productivity

10 time management tips to increase productivityTime. We know how precious time is every day in our lives. We are always looking for more time in our day to meet the demands of running a small business. We always want to maximize the time we have in our day to be more productive as we never want to fall behind and have to play catch up. Our time is valuable to us and finding extra time to catch up is sometimes impossible. Just as running a business is a learning process year after year with growth, managing time is also a learning process. It is essential to learn new ways to manage our time so that we can be more productive.

Running Out of  Time

We all run out of time. The New York Jets needed just a little bit more time and we could have beat the Steelers. We got  late start and while we were extremely effective in the second half, the clock kept ticking and we missed some opportunities to score. In our business we do not look at the day ending as missing out on a chance to score, but more so missed opportunities to help someone, gain awareness, visibility, etc. While for the JETS the goal is to win every game, the goal of a business is to acquire new leads and convert them into customers. I do not meet many people who say that they were able to get everything done in a day that they really would have liked. There is always a blog to read, to write, a comment we want to make, answer a question on LinkedIn we want to answer, so we pretty much run out of time each day in what we really want to get done. Sure, we may accomplish all that is on our “to do” list but our list is endless.

10 Time Management Tips to Increase Productivity

1. Create an Activity Log. Write down each task/activity you perform and how much time you spend on the task. At the end of your work day, caculate how much time you spent on each task collectively.
2. Create Time Schedule. The activity log will give you the time spent so that you can create a time schedule. This is extremely important so that you can see how much time you are spending on email, twitter, LinkedIn, phone calls, etc and allot that time each day.
3. Determine Time vs Money Ratio. How much money do you make per minute? When you break it down to this level, you can see where how much you are losing on spending time on some tasks that are not the best use of time.,
4. Wasting Time. The activity log will provide show where you are wasting time. Make the most of your time by focusing your efforts on tasks that make sense and further your business goals.
5. Prioritize Each Day. No day is the same as the one before. We have to be able to easily adjust while not falling behind. The time schedule plays a big role here as we know how much time we need to account for to complete each task.
6. Avoid Multi-Tasking. We love to think that we are the best multi-taskers but we know really that we are not focusing on any of the tasks we are performing at the same time. Best bet, finish one so that you can give each your undivided attention to complete and move on to the next one.
7. Delegate/Outsource. This is hard sometimes but when we invest in our own time, it is beneficial. Training a staff member or sending the task out to someone who can complete it quickly only increases the time in your day.
8. Tools/Software. Is the software and/or tools that you are using the most productive for your business? Time matters as well as productivity. Are you keeping up with technology to ensure that you are the most productive?
9. Best Time of Day. What time of day is best for you to perform certain tasks? Look at that and schedule tasks in the time that is most comfortable and efficient for you.
10. Make Use of Dead Time. Dead time is the time we spend waiting. This is not to be ignored and treated as wasted time. Dead time is valuable time and we can get a lot done in just a few minutes … your activity log will show you that.
What has worked for you? What can you add to increase others’ productivity?
photo credit: blue2likeyou
  • Hi Suzanne,

    I have a Startup folder on my desktop. This is what I MUST do first. Everything else waits.

    Also, I’ve learned to type faster which now makes a huge difference re output.

    Regards,

    Ivan

    • Ivan

      Best idea. Have that folder (I do the same) and it is the must. I type very fast so that part I have mastered as a secretary in a law firm. Transcribing dictation taught me that. But for others who are trying to increase time, typing faster and error free is definitely one way. How did I miss that one? Thank you as you always add to this blog!

  • I have wrote about this as well, and I am so very happy to see the “no multitasking” suggestion! I agree with you, that really can destroy productivity, especially if multi-tasking means checking social media streams, answering emails on and off etc. What I like to do is dedicate morning and late evening to email tasks, apart from emergencies (and that means, when I get phone calls of people telling me to read my email usually, sigh).
    Keeping a log is good too ’cause you really can see what you’re doing day by day, and what you’re leaving behind. And sometimes you receive bad surprises, I know I do.

    • Gabriele

      I used to support some multi-tasking but then I had a whole lot of emails and browsers open with nothing ever getting done I would have to have people repeat themselves on the phone.

      The log is such a valuable tool. We see where we are getting work done or as you have pointed out where we are not. It is amazing to see how much time we spend or not on things. I always revert back to the log when I am not managing my time properly.

  • Activity logs are awesome. My team makes extensive use of http://www.slimtimer.com for this – by setting Tasks for common activities, it shaves all the management out of activity logging.

    Awesome list, Suzanne – thank you for this!

    • Ian!

      So great to see you here. So appreciated. The log I cannot say enough about. It is more than a time sheet as it shows so much. Glad to see the extensive use with your team. We know that they work.

  • rmsorg

    Thanks Suzanne, great tips… With so much content, we sometimes become consumers rather than producers! Realizing this truth with your tips, we will conquer 2011!

    Thanks!
    RM – InBoundMarketingPR

    • We will conquer so long as we are able to evaluate and make change towards efficiency.

  • I like your #5 point – Prioritize each day. Comes to mind the 80/20 rule, where some 20% of our daily business tasks determine 80% of our business income. That’s seems like a logical way to prioritize – first do the 20% of the top tasks and the other 80% do latter or outsource.

    • I like that use of the 80/20 rule here. Prioritizing your day definitely helps so that you can see progress. Progress is important as when we feel productive we tend to do more and keep going and finish the task at hand.

  • I love your tips… especially about learning how to use your tools; deadtime and multi tasking it makes me sad when people want to learn how to multi task better !!

    And tools! we have a gold mine at our finger tips with Outlook and not many people use it to it’s capacity because we are not taught how.

    Look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    All the best

    Angie “speedy” spiteri

    • Angie

      I did fall into the multi-tasking trap. I thought I was getting ahead when I was so far behind that I was crumbling. The daily list of tasks and time helped out a lot. I saw where I could improve and have implemented those changes. When we see it in black and white and are not guessing it does give us the chance to make changes.

      Learning the tools reduces the time in using them. When we really know how to use them we get more and more productive.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.I really appreciate that.

  • Great list! What usually happens to me, despite the priority list, and focus on 2-3 things I *must* get done in the day, invariably something else comes in and takes urgent priority over those things, and they get pushed down the list, so it feels like I’m not progressing. I am always trying to figure out how to deal with that. Any tips in this regard are welcome.

    • Connie

      That is going to happen. What I do is I look at how important the new tasks are, the time they will take to complete vs what is on the list already. I also see how time sensitive they are. If they are not super sensitive and I can finish the others first then I go to the others and put that one below them.

      I cross out a lot on the list but I always make sure that items that were moved are top priority. It does feel like we are falling behind but if we are able to assess time vs necessity/importance, we can get things done.

      • Okay, thank you, Suzanne. Always in the moment they seem more urgent, but perhaps I need to find a way to take a step back and better assess them. It does feel like I keep taking on new things before the current work is done. Will try to be more conscious of it!

      • Saqib

        you are genius

  • Dave Crenshaw

    Tools/software
    are awesome but you need to pick the right tools to help increase your
    productivity and create a time schedule for checking and answering emails,
    phone calls and social media streams. Time is precious and we always say that
    we are running out time. Remember, we only have sixty minutes in an
    hour,  24 hours in a day and 7 days in
    a week, it’s not a matter of short time it’s how you manage your time and
    schedules properly.                                                                                                                   

    To improve your work quality, watch this video at
    http://davecrenshaw.com/top-10-tips-to-move-from-a-culture-of-now-to-a-culture-of-when-2/
     

  • I think it is important to realize that we are human and not machines.
    We work hard at our online business and sometimes we just need to chill
    and take a break. Once our batteries are recharged we can go full steam
    ahead once again. I like to do lists and when those tasks are complete
    you can add them to a daily did sheet. This way you can see exactly what
    you have accomplished for that day.

  • Great points, Suzanne, and I’m going to analyze my daily work actions to see how I can improve.

    As far as tools go, I really enjoy Rescuetime to “track my time spent” and that also alerts me if I’ve been on email / social media / watching videos too long.

    Cheers,
    Brad