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9 Time Management Tips To Maximize Productivity

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time management maximis productivity

We all know how easy it is to carelessly drift through the day, getting little done. And what more can you can expect when email notifications are constantly tapping your shoulder every 2 minutes?

If that’s not bad enough, phone calls, text messages, annoying Facebook notification events, and twitter mentions can easily rob you of your time and productivity.

But as Marie Forleo says:

“everything is figure-outable”

Here are my 9 top time management tips to get the best out of each and everyday.

 

9 Effective Time Management Tips for Major Productivity

 

1. Hide or Un-install Social Media Apps

This is extra important If you use your smartphone for business purposes. Assuming you’re not strictly disciplined yet, the best thing is to hide your social media apps that tend to be a nuisance and distract you through the day.

It’s too easy to pick up your phone, see Facebook or Twitter, then end up doing something you never planned like browsing through the timeline.

If you can’t see it, you may not be as tempted or distracted from the task at hand.

 

2. Write down a list of “time wasters”

When I’m in writing mode or I have writing to do, I don’t want my phone ringing every second, I don’t want an extra tab open for Facebook or YouTube, etc. The same should go for you.

An easy way to find out what’s burning up all your time is to write down everything you feel isn’t helping you progress. Your list might look like –

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • TV
  • Texting
  • Long phone calls with friends, family
  • Video Games
  • Obsessive email checking

You can’t maximize your productivity if you don’t even know where your time’s running off too. So get down everything that’s irrelevant or not serving your time well so you can manage your days better. For writing lists you can use apps like colornote or evernote, both available on the android and apple store.

 

3. Set Daily Goals With Reminders

If your goal is to run at least 1 mile everyday, and that goal is attached to a reminder or timer, you’ll be more inclined to do it. Nobody enjoys disappointing themselves right? A cool way you can do this is with the app Evernote. You can get it on the android and apple store for free.

Every morning or every night I’d recommend you set your daily goals with reminders for the day ahead. I find it’s so much easier to look at my daily goals before the day begins, because my minds fresh and absorbs the information easier. But you’re free to do it your own way of course, if that works for you.

 

4. Talk it out with friends and family

Our friends and family love to have our attention on a regular basis, and It’s no different for us either. But at the end of the day, when you’ve got important things to do whether it be business, or writing a new book, It’s best we let them know beforehand.

Talk it out with your friends and family. Let them know when it’s “your” time and at what time you’ll be available to speak and socialize with them. Help them understand so they wont have to feel “ignored” when you’re being extra productive.

 

5. Get rid of your TV

There was a time when I felt my TV wasn’t serving me too well, so I got rid of it not long after by selling it on eBay. As far as growth goes it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I almost immediately had more time on my hands to do more of the great stuff that actually matters. It forced me to change my daily routine and the way I managed my time.

Maybe you’re in that predicament right now? Maybe you’re the type to be easily distracted by the TV and go a little overboard. If you don’t “need” it, and it’s ruining your productiveness, sell yours on eBay. You’ll be more than surprised by the results.

Time lost time management

 

6. Buy yourself a Year Planner

Getting yourself a year planner is guaranteed to boost your productivity and manage your time efficiently. All you’ve got to do is stick it somewhere it can be easily spotted, and write down your daily tasks before you get started with your day.

Or even write down tasks and important things ahead of time by filling out the entire month, or year if you choose. You can buy a year planner from Amazon for a pretty decent price.

 

7. Have a dedicated “productivity” room

If you run a home based business working straight from your laptop, having your own dedicated room is the best way to go.

Being at home as it is can be distracting in its self. You can’t expect to manage your time well if you’re sat in a room full of “tempting” things, like food, chocolate, smartphone, TV, newspapers, etc. You’ll only make it that much harder on yourself to concentrate.

Re-design a spare room and turn it into an office. Clear out any distractions from your “productivity” space so you can be razor sharp focused and fully committed.

 

8. Stop talking yourself out of it

You have deadlines to complete, you’ve got major things to do, yet instead of doing them, your good ol’ brain decides to talk you out of it. Take Nike’s advice and just do it. 

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by all the “shiny” things that are begging for your attention.

 

9. Buy a book on time management

Nothing beats the power of a book when it comes to learning about a topic in depth. There’s just no comparison. Buy as many top notch books as you can on time management and get some fresh ideas to help you succeed.

Popular time management books include – The One Minute Manager & Getting Things Done.

 

Is there anything else I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Theo Ellis is a blogger, author, writer, and online retailer. Speaking on subjects such as confidence, personal development, he writes from personal experience to benefit the lives of others through justbereal.co.uk.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Sandra

    Dec 19, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Thank for the tip. Another thing you might try in order to increase productivity is the Kanban method. It’s simple – you just need a board divided into 3 categories (to do, in progress, done), then you put your tasks into one of the categories. It’s a great way of managing your tasks.

  2. vaqar

    Jul 21, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    A great article. The tips are really good and I loved going through the blog.

    • Theo Ellis

      Dec 30, 2017 at 1:05 am

      Glad you took something from it 🙂

  3. Lilien Nem

    Dec 19, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    hey! has anyone heard about http://tweio.com/ from here? “Tweio is an application which helps you to be more time-efficient with less effort.” sounds appealing 🙂

  4. Keith Clarke

    Jun 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Hi Theo,

    Great post and timely 🙂

    All good tips although I think I will keep my TV as I do like to watch a movie to unwind (Maybe just get rid of the Sky TV package though). I have also just ordered 18 minutes by Peter Bregman (thanks Tim). I listened to an interview with him a while back about the book and it really resonated with me, but then it went out of my mind.

    The one thing I would add to the list is to check in regularly throughout the day and ask the question, “Is what I am doing right now taking me towards or away from my objectives for the day?”

    • Tim

      Jun 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Great stuff Keith, and based on your closing thought I just know you are going to get heaps out of Peter Bregman’s book!

    • Theo J Ellis (@TheoJEllis)

      Jun 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Good to see you enjoyed the post Keith. And yes, I have to agree with the last part of your comment. I may have to check out that book though!

  5. Kshitiz Garg

    May 31, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    I have had the privilege of reading this blog because i am a member of a social media website on which its link was shared. Voila, first tip says that hide/uninstall social media apps….don’t agree too much with that. Otherwise it’s a great list 🙂

  6. Natalia

    May 9, 2014 at 3:35 am

    Owning a home based business, I find that being committed to ‘work’ during my day has proven successful and not letting household chores enter into my daily plan. However, there are times when distraction is necessary to give myself a break when productivity is lacking. If I find myself lacking in creativity or productivity I will walk out of my office and committ to wasting time, I.e. read a book, take a walk, clean something, watch a movie. When I go back to my task I am clearer and more focused. I also like to commit time to social media. Thinking that one can avoid Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…. is unrealistic in today’s business. Social media plays a vital role in business and needs to be managed as an asset not a distraction, with realistic time management.

    • Theo J Ellis (@TheoJEllis)

      May 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks for commenting Natalia. I especially agree with the social media part you mentioned. As you say – “realistic time management” that’s what matters most! I can definitely relate

  7. Everyday Power

    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Great list! I would like to add, maybe the foundation of this all…is a mission statement. Why is your time so valuable? What do you want to achieve with your time? Why should I treat my time like gold?

  8. Wan

    Apr 25, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Great list of tips, Theo.

    One thing I would like to add is to track your time. it can give us insights on how we use our time and our time-management weak points.

  9. Raymona Brown

    Apr 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    This is a very useful article, many people never really realize that our time and how me manage it is one of our most important assets.. As a great man once said time lost can never be regained.

    All the tips mentioned are awesome tips however the ones that have proven most effective for me is that of setting daily goals. The yearly planner, having a productivity room and stop putting things off.

    From what I have experienced being better at time management will definitely increase your productivity and not only that but you will find you have more time in the day than you previous thought.
    Once again very useful article!

    • Theo J Ellis (@TJEntrepreneur)

      May 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Hey, Raymona. I’m glad you found the article of great value! It’s amazing how much time we can have if managed right on a daily basis. Appreciate your comment 🙂

  10. Tim

    Apr 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I found 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman really helpful, for staying on track but also to set a big picture agenda of what I’m trying to achieve.
    Other hacks include setting yourself to Do Not Disturb, hiding out in a meeting room for an hour or two and not letting yourself leave until you’ve completed a set of tasks, and getting into the habit of hitting the desk early – say 7am – to enjoy a fantastic couple of hours of flow at the start of the day, before the meetings and phone calls start.

    The bonus of the early start is you can head out the door at 5 or 5.30 knowing you’ve put in a full day

    • Theo J Ellis (@TJEntrepreneur)

      Apr 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Hey Tim, appreciate your input! I agree. I actually have the “do not disturb” feature on my smartphone, it’s very useful for time management. Having an early start is also key, because it allows you to get a large amount done within the day.

      Thanks again!

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Success Advice

Why You Should Prefer Emails to Phone Calls if You Want to Be More Productive

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“Email” and “productivity” rarely go together in a sentence. Emails have been declared as one of our largest time wasters. A McKinsey report stated that people spend around 2.6 hours each day responding to emails. That’s 13 hours a week, 52 hours a month and over 60 days a year! Imagine what you could’ve achieved in 60 days!

Emails also negatively affect our cognitive resources. When we think of responding to them while doing other important tasks, it takes up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds after being disrupted to return to full attention to a current task. Imagine how much our cognition and productivity gets fractured when we get distracted over and over again.

Constant emailing also drains us mentally. And at the end of a day, we realize that we’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning. With a phone call, you can sort issues and solve problems quickly, right? In theory, you’re right. But we live in a practical world where many variables come into play.

Below are three variables that make phone calls adversely affect our productivity, and why emails are a better alternative:

1. Wasting Time

Most “five-minute conversations” can quickly turn into 35-minute calls because people ramble about irrelevant aspects. This derailment, several times a day, severely limits the limited time and energy you have for important tasks.

Emails, on the other hand, force writers to streamline their thoughts and stick to the point. Emails can save you plenty of time and energy because you avoid lengthy phone calls. The constant strife to keep your own emails short and crisp also makes you a clearer thinker, which rewards you in other aspects of your life.

“It’s better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.” – Hal Sparks

2. Inaccurate Responses

An unexpected phone call can catch me caught off guard on a topic. I might respond emotionally or give an answer that doesn’t do justice to what I want to share. In a world dominated by panic buttons and fire-fighting, these don’t just stress me out but the caller as well.

Emails give me flexibility to prepare a coherent response and share it when I’m satisfied. If I feel a surge of emotion, I can sleep over the thought and share a better (more rational) response the next day. Many page-long email responses to emails that upset me have turned into a simple “thank you for your email” the next day.

3. Constant Back-and-Forth

Phone calls often are ineffective to solve business problems. Accounting for multiple people, their views, their timelines… One phone call can quickly turn into three.

Emails are quicker and more effective than even conference calls. They let you communicate with multiple people at the same time. You can share information, assign tasks and give status updates while being as specific as possible.

You must be wondering, “What about back-and-forth emails then? Why do we waste precious time on them?” Yes, email has earned a bad rap. But it’s not because of the medium; it’s because we handle it ineffectively.

A Better Approach to Emailing

For most people, constantly refreshing the inbox is part of the daily to-do list. It keeps them busy and gives them a kick of dopamine – the feel-good chemical.

Ironically, this quest to remain busy makes people compromise on taking action that can move them forward. Using emails prudently, rewards you with plenty of energy and mind space to focus on tasks that truly matter.

Here are three steps that benefited me without succumbing to the side effects of email:

1. Checking Them Less

I check emails just 3 times a day – at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. If you don’t have the luxury to do the same, you can start by checking your emails for ten minutes at the end of each hour. Most senders expect a response in a little over an hour. So they won’t mind a slightly delayed response. This gives you 45 undisturbed minutes each hour to work on your core tasks.

2. Responding Quickly

People delay responding to emails at least 37% of the time, which turns finding emails and responding to them into additional tasks that cost time and lead to attention residue. Most emails take under two minutes to respond. When you can respond to an email, do so instead of putting it off. This won’t just put your mind at peace, it’ll also reduce the number of “did-you-see-this” follow-up emails in your inbox.

“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk

3. The If-Then Technique

The If-Then technique helps you address multiple scenarios at once. For instance, an email that says, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM?” becomes, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”

This technique is also effective when you want to suggest ideas or provide instructions on alternative steps. For example, “Here’s Plan A. If it doesn’t work, connect with [name] and ask for [specific information]. If you don’t get what you need, inform me.”

I’ll admit. This sounds like more work in the current moment, but it drastically cuts down the number of trail mails, confused correspondences, and fire-fighting instances that occur due to miscommunication.

The If-Then formula is the single most effective technique I’ve learned from The 4-Hour Workweek. All of this doesn’t mean that you abandon phone calls, In fact, it’s better to use the phone for sensitive topics or if an email conversation gets dragged. But remain mindful to not let phone calls waste your time.

If you want to pursue a meaningful life, place a premium on your time. Do things that create time for you to pursue meaningful actions and avoid doing what pulls you away from them. In the knowledge economy, this is the key to success.

Do you prefer email or talking on the phone? Share your thoughts below!

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4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Reach the Level of Success You So Desperately Crave

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It’s normal that every person in the world wants to reach success and happiness. Yet, everyone defines both of these things differently. For some, success is making a whole bunch of money while for others this can be to become a good parent. Happiness is defined differently as well. Some people need to own a jet, boat and 3 cars to be truly happy, while others are happy just to be able to wake up in the morning.

It doesn’t matter how you define success and happiness, the truth is, you want to achieve them both. But, to be able to reach success and happiness, you need to answer 4 questions for yourself.

Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before you can achieve success and happiness:

1. Where Are You?

No, not geographically. It doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is where are you in life. Where are you in your way to success and happiness. Let’s say you are lost in the woods. You know exactly where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are. Even a map doesn’t help you with that.

The same is true in life. You may have a goal, but until you truly define where you are in the moment, you can’t move toward this goal. So, step 1 on your way to success and happiness is to define where you are right now.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

2. Where Do You Want to Go?

When you define where you are in life, then you can think of where you want to be.

There’s this saying:  When you don´t know your final destination, you´ll end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Until you don’t know clearly where you want to be in life and who you want to become, your life doesn’t have a true purpose.

Without purpose, there´s no motivation. Without motivation, there´s no energy. And without energy, you´re not living, you´re just existing. I am sure you know someone who looks like a walking corpse everytime you see them. Do you think this person lives a successful and happy life? Most likely not.

So, step 2 on your way to success and happiness is to clearly define your goal. What do you want to accomplish and who do you want to become?

3. Why Do You Want It?

Okay, you know the basics. You know where you are and where you want to be. But, as Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And as you already know, life usually doesn’t go according to your plan. There will be hard times and to overcome those and not give up, you need to know WHY you do what you do.

You need to know WHY you want to accomplish your goals. When you answer this for yourself, you don’t struggle so much to motivate yourself. You will be motivated every minute of every day.

So, as a step 3, sit down and think of WHY you want to accomplish your goals. What’s the big purpose?

“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” – Tony Robbins

4. How Are You Going to Get There?

And finally, how are you going to get there? What’s your plan? You may know where you are, where you want to be and why you want to do it, but until you truly understand how you are going to get there, there won’t be much success and happiness in your life.

For example, you want to become a bodybuilder. You want to do it because you want to have big muscles and you want to look fit. But, you have no idea how to work out, how to build muscle and how to lose fat. Do you think, you´re going to be happy? No. As Tony Robbins says, “true happiness comes from progress.”

To make progress, you need to have a specific plan; how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you want to be). So, as a step 4, sit down and make a specific plan for how you’re going to get what you want in life.

In order to reach success and happiness, there are 4 questions you need to answer for yourself. Without answering them, you´re not going to  get ahead in life, you´re just bouncing around. Success and happiness never come from just bouncing around in life.

Good news is, that these questions are really simple. It won’t take much time to answer them. Just be aware of where you are and where you want to be. Don´t forget to understand why you are pursuing your dream and finally, how are you going to get what you want.

Answer these 4 simple questions today and you won’t struggle with finding success and happiness in life anymore.

Which one of the above 4 questions resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

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The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

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Claude Silver CHO of Vaynermedia
Image Credit: VaynerMedia

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018, I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”. I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. That message spoke to me on an emotional level, and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia have been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart. With the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation.

Although business can be a challenging, tough, and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

Below we’ll see 3 different ways the CHO of VaynerMedia is changing the way people work:

1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story, but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths.

When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without its challenges.”

Claude is openly gay and is living proof your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but your character, your track record, and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous. I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy, but I have stories.” – Tafta Johnson Watson

2. Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining.

With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer, she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting, she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individual’s talents but most importantly their own heart”.  

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:”To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself“.

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit to and live with a strong value system, will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3. Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats, she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors.

Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene and sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

“Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work, I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. Here is one of the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia.

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life.

From this article, it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards. The “soft” skills you develop are humongous strengths and to truly impact an entire organization.

What’s the last random act of kindness you did for someone? Share with us below!

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The 7 Secrets of High Achievers Revealed

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We all have goals in life, but very few of us ever learn to consciously set, work on and see our goals through. In our naturalness bias, we marvel at those who have set and reached their goals thinking they have some esoteric abilities that we don’t. We overlook that the final product is the result of a series of mistake-ridden, unrecorded pains. What if we could learn from the process, the habits and rituals of the high achievers? (more…)

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