Time Management Hacks

In an effort to start the new season off on a controlled foot, we recently had a time management hack lunchtime discussion at AMCES.

We each brought our top 2 productivity tools as well as our biggest time management problems for sharing and hopefully solving. Below are some of the big takeaways, here’s to a calm cool and collected Spring!
  1. Time everything you do, for about 3 weeks. The timer will not only gave you a concise reading on tasks that you may normally “guesstimate” at the end of the day, it also provides you with a focus reminder. When I was doing this, each time I looked down, I could only see the clock running. It was a fun challenge for the OCD!
  2. Have an ongoing to-do list. For each task, I assign an estimated time to it – this is game changing, it makes everything seem much less scary and more attainable. Allocate these tasks to certain days of the week, and if they do not get done, simply move them to the next day you have time for them. If that is the final time they can be moved without delaying the project or setting someone else back, mark them red. They can no longer be bumped.

    I include personal things I want to get done during the day as well. It is always nice to know how many hours you are really expecting yourself to be awake for - it is very important to know when your expectations on yourself are ridiculous.

    In the same schedule, add in all CONS. CONS are “Came outta nowhere’s”, our new affectionate term for all activities that come your way out of the blue. This way, you will know where all that other time is going and it takes about 10 seconds per task.

    I had over 18 hours of it this week. Tracking this stuff really helps when considering how to use our resources effectively. 
  3. Try to answer emails only 3 times a day, and never first thing in the morning (as much as possible!). Your audience will adjust to the new expectation, 24 hours is a very acceptable human reply time.
  4. On the email note, do you have one going out soon that you know could cause some time sucking drama? Spend a little more time on it now, ensure you have pre-emptively answered all the concerns. This will not only ease your receiver, it will also ease the time you have to spend responding.  
  5. Wake up an hour earlier. Starting your day one hour earlier could allow you to:
    • Meditate (Using the Headspace AP, best tool I have ever used and I’ve used about 10, I am on day 7 of the 10 day trial and I look forward to the 10  minutes every morning
    • Write one page free hand every morning. This takes about 10 minutes, write everything and anything that comes to your brain. It is teaching me to not re-read as I write - wait until the end and don’t waste your flow
    • Get at least 2 hours of big task work done before you open emails.
    • This list of course can be anything you want it to be, find something to be excited about early tomorrow morning!
  6. Is your office space very collaborative and sometimes distracting? Do you have the ability to work from home? Use office time for collaborating, assisting colleagues and general admin/printing needs that don’t need solitude. Then your office time can be used for valuable guilt-free collaboration!
  7. Finally, we can spend a lot of time complaining about things we can’t change. I am attempting this no complaint challenge, from a Tim Ferriss blog post. I am on my 3rd day 1. It’s going well, I think!

What hacks do you value in your daily routine?