3 Effective Behavior Shifts You Can Start Today for Better Time Management
Nearly every entrepreneur or small business owner has lamented that there just aren’t enough hours in a day, to do it all.
They’re in mad pursuit of how to work better, to get more done every day.
“Of course, life isn’t about being a productivity robot in which every second is optimized,” says former clinical psychologist Alice Boyes.
“But most of us do want to feel well-organized and efficient in pursuing key goals and solving critical problems,” writes Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit, in a post by Harvard Business Review.
If you feel busy yet unsatisfied with your productivity level, you’re not alone. Nearly 75% of the people surveyed by RescueTime say they get to the end of the workday and wonder “did I accomplish anything today?”
Here are 3 ways you can shift your behavior to manage your time better and get more done.
Shoot for your ideal uninterrupted block of time.
Zapier coach and facilitator Danielle Meinert is convinced that everyone in a company requires uninterrupted work time every day.
“Engineers need to write code without errors. People managers need to synthesize a day of one-on-one calls. Support and sales roles need to manage their pipeline after a day of context-switching between customers,” writes Meinert in a blog for the app automation company.
Interruptions come with the territory of work.
Ninety-eight percent of hundreds of RescueTime users surveyed said they were interrupted at least a few times every single day, with nearly half of them saying they’re interrupted frequently, according to the Seattle-based time management software company.
That’s why it’s important to identify your needs in terms of uninterrupted time and aim for that amount of focused time to create the most productive version of yourself.
Meinert says she needs three hours of focused time a day to complete and “feel proud of” of her week’s work.
“When my clients get this dedicated work time, they're more motivated and focused. But uninterrupted calendar blocks are hard to design into your schedule,” she writes in a Zapier blog.
“We balance meetings, messages, and family members who need our attention. Working for three focused hours per day might sound impossible to do—that means it's worth trying.”
The word is out — multitasking just doesn’t produce the results it once promised. What it actually does is shortchange the tasks that need your brainpower.
“It can feel like you are successfully managing all of these moving pieces, but switching between multiple tasks makes it harder to get tasks fully completed,” says a Zapier blog by Belle Cooper. “Stop letting your work suffer, and instead, single-task your way through the day.”
Instead learn to switch to “single-tasking.” Doing so for an extended period of time can actually increase your productivity anywhere from 200–500%, according to RescueTime.
When you spend time focused on a single task you actually rebuild your focus muscle by forcing you to work through complex problems,” writes Jory MacKay, editor of the RescueTime blog.
Single-tasking also helps you to feel less stressed because you’re not constantly splitting your focus, and it can even make you more creative, he adds.
Start tracking your habits.
Tracking your actions has consistently been found to increase motivation, focus, and, of course, productivity, says MacKay in a blog for RescueTime.
“Without self-awareness of your current situation, you won’t be able to quickly discover which habits and behaviors actually increase your productivity,” he writes.
“Unfortunately, this is the awkward part of any behavior change. When we want to improve some aspect of our life, we need to start with a clear vision of what needs to be changed, which isn’t always pretty.”
So, MacKay says, start uncovering the tasks that bring you the biggest return and then create the ideal environment — both physically and mentally — for focusing on them.
“It’s this one-two punch of awareness and action that helps you hit your goals and leave each day feeling accomplished,” he says.