TV networks get it. They know their prime time. It’s the time when most people are watching and they will get their best return for their investment. They place their best shows in their prime time slots. Similarly, we have our prime time; the time wherein we’re most productive.
Your prime time is the time when you can take on your most challenging and valuable tasks. For most people, their prime time is first thing in the morning, for some, it’s in the evening. Whenever your prime time is, place your most challenging task there. For all the low value tasks, schedule them at a different time.
When you set daily goals for yourself, you’ll know which tasks to prioritize. The key is to understand which is your highest value task and when to schedule them. This way you know you’re using your time for the task that matters the most.
Create chunks of uninterrupted focused time wherein you can work solidly for about 45 to 90 minutes. Going for a longer time might not be sustainable for you. Nevertheless, aim for this chunk to be in your prime time. During this period, all distractions need to be eliminated.
As you put high value tasks in your prime time, make provisions for your low value tasks. You still need to accomplish those. If you need to run some errands, return calls and emails, or to follow up on people, do them in one hit. Instead of answering emails as they come, set a time of day when you can do them.
A tip is to schedule these low value tasks at any time other than your prime time. We can get lost answering emails all day long. Aim to answer your emails twice a day.
You have chunked up your day to time blocks for high and low value tasks. When you get into a time block, do not allow yourself to think about what’s coming up later in the day. Focus on the task at hand. Do not let your mind wander on anything else.
A lot of times, when we focus on one thing, your mind will start bringing up the other things that you need to get done. This can stress you out because you cannot focus on your current task when you’re mentally creating a to-do list for the rest of the day. In order to overcome this, if ever a thought or a task pops into your head, just write them down on a notepad or a sticky note, then keep working until this time block is finished.
Do not try to multi-task. If your time-block is designated for addressing the paper work you need to go through, do only that. Multi-tasking is not the key to increased productivity. For the most challenging tasks, you must have single-minded focus.
Each day, before the day ends, list down your top six tasks that you need to do for the following day. Schedule your time blocks in advance so that you won’t have to do them the next day, when you’re already deep in phone calls and paper work.
Every night, before you go to bed or before you leave your office, review your goals and set your top six priorities for the next day. You might think, “I’m so tired to even think about what I need to do tomorrow.” Try to do this on a daily basis and you’ll see this as a productivity booster.
By setting your priorities a day before, you can start your day with an immediate momentum. You’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing that you know your plan for the next day. A lot of people have trouble sleeping at night because of so much things going on in their heads. Once you’ve put all these thoughts down on paper, you’ll be able to let them go and rest.
While technology can be a time-killer, you can actually help boost your productivity by using productivity applications. Toggle (iOs, Android, and desktop) is an app that times you as you do each task. After some time, you can create charts to see what’s the most time-consuming. The basic version is free, but the full feature is priced at $5 per month.
RescueTime is another app that runs in the background of your computer or mobile device. The free version tracks minutes spent on various sites or applications. This is an app that’s most useful when you know you have a bad email or social media habit and would like to get it under control. The premium version costs $9/month, it allows you to track your time on your computer and block distracting websites after a desired amount of time.