Would it be awesome, if I had some amazing and simple time management activities that could improve your productivity immensely?
Well, I got some good news for you.
I did some research online and collected 21 simple time management activities for you, so you can improve your productivity.
Some of these I already use in my own life, but some of them were also new for me and I’m trying to implement them in my life now.
What is productivity?
Let’s first have a quick look at what productivity is.
Productivity is simply explained, a measure of the efficiency of a person completing a task. It’s not just about getting as much done as possible within the shortest amount of time. Productivity is about getting the most important things done consistently.
If you completed 20 tasks today that wouldn’t move you towards your goals and you just wasted your time, would you have been productive? No, you would have just spent the day doing tasks that aren’t important. But if you’ve completed 1 very critical task that brings you a bit closer to your goals you’ve been really productive.
Before we start with the time management exercises I have laid out here, I really want you to understand that about productivity.
It’s not about the quantity you get done in a single day, but the quality of the tasks you get done.
Okay, let’s dive in!
- 1: Prepare the night before
- 2: Do the hard tasks first thing in the morning
- 3: Turn your phone off and hide it somewhere far away.
- 4: Don’t multitask
- 5: Manage your energy, not your time
- 6: Work with time-blocks
- 7: Delegate some of your work
- 8: Don’t open your email before the morning is over
- 9: Learn to say “no”
- 10: Don’t strive for perfection
- 11: Sit straight or stand up
- 12: Move your body
- 13: Schedule relaxation time
- 14: Track your time
- 15: Develop a habitual routine
- 16: Prioritize your tasks.
- 17: Optimize your waiting times
- 18: Turn time management activities into goals
- 19: Lower the temperature in your workspace
- 20: Batch similar tasks together
- 21: No matter what, don’t stress yourself out.
Simple time management activities
1. Prepare the night before
If there is one productive activity that has moved the needle in my personal and professional life, it is that I prepare for my next day the night before. I write down all the things that have to happen that day and make a list of the 3 most important tasks I will have to do. This strategy saves me hours the next day.
Just spend around 15 minutes every night planning your next day.
2. Do the hard tasks first thing in the morning
The hard tasks are the ones that we procrastinate on the most. If we get them done before everything else, the rest of the day will be easy-peasy. Instead of avoiding your hardest task, schedule that task to be the very first thing you do in the morning or when you arrive at work.
I love writing blog posts, but writing is still a hard task to do for me, and I just do right away after my morning routine. That way I know that whatever the day will throw at me, I’ve already won by doing the hard thing first.
3. Turn your phone off and hide it somewhere far away.
We can’t do much about it, most of us are just a little bit addicted to the amazing phones we have. Believe me, I really enjoy my phone, it helps me in so many ways. But I also know how my productivity can shatter if I have my phone near me while trying to work.
Hide your phone somewhere in another room. This simple activity will eliminate you accidentally looking at Facebook or Instagram and wasting your time instead of focusing on the task at hand.
4. Don’t multitask
C’mon, it’s already proven over and over again by so many scientific studies that we humans cannot actually multitask. What actually happens is that our attention just jumps from one task to the other, while we never focus on both of them completely. We think we are doing ten things at the same time, but we are actually giving everything just 10% each of our energy instead of 100%.
Whenever you have to do something very important that moves you closer towards your goals, try to give all your attention to that task and don’t multitask. Multitasking destroys the quality of your work.
5. Manage your energy, not your time
I know that I’m more energized and productive early in the morning and late at night. During the afternoon my energy just sinks to a really low level and I’m not able to do hard tasks. Therefore, I schedule all of my important tasks either in the morning or at night.
You probably already know that you work better at certain times. Check your energy levels in the morning, afternoon and evening. And schedule your tasks according to your energy levels. When a task needs a lot of energy, schedule it when you most likely will feel more energized.
6. Work with time-blocks
Sometimes we have tasks that take longer than just one day, and we will have to work on them several days for a couple of hours. Instead of just saying that you will do it sometime every day when you have free time, make sure you have a block of free time for that task.
Put it in your agenda that you will work from 2 PM till 5 PM on that certain task. That time is scheduled just for that task and nothing else, no phone calls, no emails, nothing. Just that one task will get your full attention during that time block.
7. Delegate some of your work
This time management activity is a real time saver to me. There are so many tasks I would have to do every day, but not all of these tasks I should do myself. I try to outsource my minor tasks to someone else in my environment or hire someone online.
You don’t need to do everything yourself. Get someone overseas to do your simple administration tasks, routine office work or have someone doing your groceries. You can delegate that to assistants or someone you know who wants to earn a few extra bucks. Concentrate on the big and significant tasks.
8. Don’t open your email before the morning is over
I have seen it over and over again, people checking their emails right away when they wake up and get swept away by all the problems of other people instead of focusing on what’s important to them.
I know it’s not the easiest task, there might be a really urgent mail that you need to answer. But there is never really going to be a true emergency in your mail. Leave your mail untouched in the morning and get things done that are important rather than ‘urgent’.
9. Learn to say “no”
Accepting all tasks and opportunities will just make your schedule too full to focus on all the things with full energy. Most people think they cannot say no to people, especially people that are important. But you have to understand that there will always be something else to do, and when you don’t know how to say no, you will always have your ‘’to-do list’’ full.
You should spend your time on things that you find important.
10. Don’t strive for perfection
I have always struggled with wanting everything to be perfect. The work that I delivered had to be perfect, the videos I made needed to be amazing and I needed the perfect gym routine. But because of it, I got way less done. I focused so much on perfection that I actually was too afraid of doing things and putting my content out there for the world to see.
To become exceptional, you must try things without wanting to be perfect. Make mistakes, fail, and learn from them. Do your task as best as you can, but if they are not perfect, don’t be too hard on yourself. Nobody’s perfect.
11. Sit straight or stand up.
Most of us that are looking for time management activities are entrepreneurs or workers that sit in a chair all day. This means that most of the time you probably sit hunched over and your diaphragm is pressing against the bottom of your lungs. This way of sitting hinders us to breathe easily and deeply.
Try to sit up straight or stand up to make it easier for you to breath. That way you get more oxygen in your brain which will also help you to focus better on the task at hand.
12. Move your body
Besides sitting up straight to breath more easily, we also have to move our bodies in between our work. When we are sedentary for too long, our bodies get tired and don’t function as smoothly anymore. We need to move a little to make the blood flowing to our brains again.
I try to stand up and move every 25 – 35 minutes, just do some pushups, jumping jacks or walking around a little bit. Get your body moving.
13. Schedule relaxation time
Sometimes to do more, we have to do less for a while. Our brain has two different thinking modes, the focused and the diffused thinking mode. When we are working, our brain is in the focused mode and using all its energy on the task. But after a while, it can get fatigued. That’s when we need some relaxation.
Just stop whatever you’re doing, find a quiet space, turn off your “focused brain” and go in relaxation mode. You’d be surprised by how a little bit of relaxation in between your work can enhance your productivity immensely.
14. Track your time
If you want to become aware of what you’re spending all of your precious time on, you should start tracking your time. You probably haven’t realized it yet, but you’re losing a lot of valuable minutes and hours on random stuff. Becoming aware of what you spend your time on, will make you more aware and help you see what you should spend more or less time on.
I myself use a free app called TopTracker, I always track how long I work on certain tasks. But another really good one is called Toggl.
15. Develop a habitual routine
My day starts the same way every single day. I get some coffee, start working out while drinking my coffee and jump into meditation right afterward. That’s how I start my mornings and this short routine signals my brain that it’s time to go into work mode. My brain understands that when I complete the sequence, we start to work on the important tasks.
You can start by doing an easy activity every time before you start working. After a while, your brain will connect this activity to work, and every time you do this activity, your brain will be prepared to start.
16. Prioritize your tasks.
Before you start just attacking all your tasks one after the other, try to look at all your tasks and prioritize them. Look at which tasks are important and urgent, and which aren’t. Order them from most important to least and tackle each task individually. Don’t hop on to the next task until the last one is complete.
Also, have a really close look if you actually need to do the tasks. Maybe some of the tasks aren’t even that important and you should just delete them completely, or at least delegate.
17. Optimize your waiting times
Every one of us has been waiting on something; a meeting, doctors waiting room, airport terminals, bus stops, etc.
Instead of just mindlessly waiting there doing nothing, get some stuff done. Answer your emails, read an e-book, listen to a podcast, meditate or even create a spreadsheet that you needed to make. Use your time wisely. We all have waiting times, let’s optimize them.
18. Turn time management activities into goals
Becoming great in time management is a process, and you won’t be able to become the most productive person with just implementing a few time management activities and hoping that they will work. You have to consciously make sure that you’re implementing these strategies. Turn these strategies into goals.
For example, set a goal for the next week that you won’t look at your phone before noon, or you’re going to work for one hour every day on an important project.
19. Lower the temperature in your workspace
There has been some research done about the effects of temperature on our productivity. Turning the temperature down or going somewhere to work where it’s cooler, has shown to improve your focus and concentration. The ideal temperature that will maximize your productivity is around 21 degrees Celsius. Anything above or below can affect your productivity negatively, researches say.
20. Batch similar tasks together
I often have tasks scheduled that are closely related to each other but for some reason, I do them separately. I’m now trying to do them together on a specific time during the day. For example, everything that has to do with my writing, from creating the outlines, doing the research and the actual writing, will now be batched together, and not spread all over the place.
Look at all the tasks you have to do: Can you categorize them? If you need to call different people throughout the day, try to schedule a time-block where you will just do the phone calls one after the other, instead of randomly spread all over the day.
21. No matter what, don’t stress yourself out.
Don’t become an obsessive person. Trying to become the most productive person and stressing all out because not everything is done will not get you further in the long term. Completing all your tasks in a constantly stressed state is not worth it. Your life and health are way more important than just completing some tasks.
Work at a steady pace, no hurry, just try to do your best work and focus on the task at hand and just have fun doing the tasks, even when they’re boring.
So, what now?
Now it’s up to you to try out some of these time management activities.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people just read and learn about all kinds of different strategies, but never actually take action on it. The strategies seem really nice, but for some reason not good enough to push through to action.
There is no perfect time management activity, there are tons of them that work a little bit. And every one of these strategies works differently for different people.
My advice to you would be to choose 2-3 strategies that you are not using yet but you think might help you with your productivity. Try them out for the next two weeks. See if your productivity improves or not, if not, look at why and see how you can improve.
Small steps of progress on a daily basis will get you where you want to be.