58 Time Management Tips For Work
It's logical that you should carefully manage your proffesional time when working, but this can get tricky. So here are 58 great time management tips that should help you maximize work productivity.
List of time management tips
Preparation and planning
- 01. Find your most productive time
- 02. Find your time management personality
- 03. Design a suitable work environment
- 04. Plan your day the night before
- 05. Make your schedule adjustable
- 06. Create to-do lists
- 07. Do most important task first
- 08. Set deadlines for yourself
- 09. Track time for each task
- 10. Don't multitask
- 11. Learn and use keyboard shortcuts
- 12. Do small tasks immediately
- 13. Put a checkmark in front of every task you finish
- 14. 20% of input brings 80% of results
- 15. Take regular breaks
- 16. Change your environment
- 17. Have healthy and regular meals
- 18. Go for a walk
- 19. Meditate
- 20. List time wasters and track time you spend on them
- 21. Use the 20-foot rule
- 22. Don't let people interrupt you
- 23. Use a website blocker
- 24. Unplug the Internet
- 25. Plane them
- 26. Paraphrase what you need to say
- 27. Summarize what you have agreed on with your caller
- 28. If you're constantly answering the same questions, keep a FAQ note
- 29. Unsubscribe to emails you never read
- 30. Whitelists and Blacklists
- 31. Keep responses short and on point
- 32. Check emails only at a certain time of day
- 33. Track the time you spend on emails
- 34. Determine part of the day, or week for meetings, and stick to this schedule
- 35. Plan an agenda
- 36. Use meetings for collaborative activities
- 41. Organize your documents and desktop files
- 42. Unwind and stop thinking about work
- 43. Make time for your hobbies
- 44. Read a book
- 45. Make a weekly review of the work you've done
- 46. Work for 2 to 4 hours on weekends
- 47. Set weekly goals
- 48. Plan your meals and outfits for next week
- 49. Allow yourself enough time to finish
- 50. Make good use of your TV
- 51. Don't rush the task in the end
- 52. Don't visualize your success
- 53. Avoid being a perfectionist
- 54. Say "No"
- 55. Do some of your work during commutes
- 56. Practice your ability to perform deep work
- 57. Make most important tasks into habits
- 58. Set reminders 15-30 minutes before a task
01 • Preparation and Planning
Find your most productive time
Every person has his or her most productive time - the time they are most likely to concentrate and thrive with their work.
Finding out whether you are a morning person or a night owl will help you schedule your day, so that you do your most important work in your most productive time.
For example, for some people:
- Mornings are productive, they're mentally the most alert then
- Afternoons are ideal for collaborative work and physical activities
- Evenings are great for thinking and planning
Of course, this isn't the same for everyone, so you should observe how you cope with your work at various times of the day, to identify when you're the best at it.
Analyzing your circadian rhythm to see what might be the most productive time for you, is a good practice.
You can also track the time you spend on each activity with Clockify, and see whether some activities take longer than you'd expect.
If you tend to do research for a project first thing in the morning, but find you take too long to finish, perhaps you're just not a morning person. You can then try allocating research time to later in the day, to see whether your time results improve.
02 • Preparation and Planning
Find your time management personality
Each person has a certain time management personality, one that describes how they obstruct their work routine.
Once you identify your time management personality, you'll be able to work on the weak spots in your daily routine.
Just think about how you deal with your daily work.
You may be a Time Martyr, or a person who simply can't say no to anyone, so that you neglect the tasks you should really focus on. For you, the best practice is to set clear goals, do all your important tasks first, and only then turn to these other tasks and requests.
Procrastinators, or people who avoid doing their important tasks, should parse these tasks into smaller chunks, to make them more manageable and less intimidating. Also, once you start a task, it'll be easier to keep going.
You may be a Firefighter, or someone who takes tasks too seriously, trying to solve everything at once, which completely destroys your focus on important tasks. As a solution, you can list everything you should accomplish to call the day a success, and work your way down through these items, before moving on to more trivial tasks.
Or maybe you underestimate the time it takes you to finish tasks, so you're constantly breaking deadlines. These Underestimators should take more time to finish tasks, and set less optimistic deadlines.
Maybe you're easily distracted by emails, or quick chats with colleagues? You should plan your time in advance, and stick to a schedule, noting in the time you're allowed to work on less important tasks.
03 • Preparation and Planning
Design a suitable work environment
It's important that you find a suitable environment for work, one that encourages you to focus on tasks, and minimize procrastination.
Whether you work at home or in a traditional office, you can make tweaks to create the optimal working environment.
According to science and experts in the field, the right lighting is important for productivity. For example, cold lighting is excellent for brainstorming sessions, because it improves alertness, and reduces fatigue.
You can also make the effort to bring more plant-life into your environment. A study conducted at the University of Queensland in Australia shows that green offices make employees feel more comfortable, and thus more productive.
Make sure you're work environment is quiet, or opt for a noise-canceling website, such as A Soft Murmur, or extension, such as Noisli.
Also be selective on the choice of colors, as a research made by NASA showed that the color of walls in a room impacts mood and productivity: red color elicits negative results, and a blue-green color elicits positive results.
04 • Preparation and Planning
Plan your day the night before
Each night before you go to bed, you should create a to-do list for the following day, to keep your work in perspective.
Lists are an important part of a well structured day, and making one in the morning would take away from the time you could spend on more important activities.
You can make this planning into a habit.
Every night, 10-15 minutes before going to bed, write everything you have to do on a piece of paper. While writing, think about the tasks, how long they may take, and how important they are. Determine the most important task, the one you'll tackle first thing in the morning.
05 • Preparation and Planning
Make your schedule adjustable
Though you often think you know the priority of your tasks, a new, unexpected task may appear and take first place. Once this happens, you should streamline your to-do list to match your new priorities.
Simply ease out of your current task, and focus all your attention on the new task. List it in your planner, so you'll be able to check mark it when done. Make a time estimate for when you might be finished, and start working. Once you're done with this new, important task, resume work on your previous priorities.
06 • Preparation and Planning
Create to-do lists
A recent study has shown that listing all the work you plan to do for the day, frees you from the anxiety over unfinished work, and makes you more effective.
First, brainstorm and create an ultimate list of everything you wish to accomplish within a time period. Once you have all your activities and ideas listed in random order, streamline your schedule
- Organize your notes and make them into list items
- Group similar tasks together
- Single out your most important tasks
- Parse projects and tasks into more manageable chunks.
- Set deadlines or time estimates on how long it should take you to finish each item on your list
- Check each item as you finish it, to maintain a sense of progress
07 • Preparation and Planning
Do most important task first
Not all tasks are equally important or urgent. You'll want to avoid working on trivial tasks during your productive peak time, or spending too much on them. Everyday, you're bound to have at least 1 or 2 crucial tasks, and you should prioritize your to-do lists accordingly.
To determine priority of tasks, turn to your to-do list. Think about whether that phone call you have to make to a client is more, or less important, than the report you have to send to your project manager. Do you really need to answer all those emails? Could you delegate that project research to a colleague?
Then, create your list:
- A - report to manager (very important, do first)
- B - phone call to client (important, do second)
- C - answer work emails (could do, if there is time)
- D - project research (delegate to colleague)
- E - answer other emails (eliminate altogether)
Eat the frog first, ie. your most important thing. Don't start the "B" item or any other item, before finishing the "A" item. Delegating or eliminating trivial tasks will free up your schedule so you'll be able to focus on most important tasks and devote them more time.
08 • Preparation and Planning
Set deadlines for yourself
Whether you work on strict deadlines or not, knowing the time you should finish will provide the momentum you need to push forward with your work.
Plan your schedule for the next day, and set a deadline for each task. You can set a rough estimate, but it's best if you make the deadline more lenient than strict. This way, you're likely to finish earlier than estimated, which will be encouraging for your moral.
09 • Execution
Track time for each task
Knowing how much time you spend on each task or type of project answers how productive you really are. It also helps you make more accurate time estimates for future work, so you'll save time in the long run.
For this purpose, you can turn to Clockify, a free time tracker.
First, go to the Time Tracker page, write the activity you're working on in the "What's up" box and start the timer. Once you're done, turn off the timer, and repeat until you've finished with activities for that work day.
Then, go to the Dashboard page, and take a quick glance at how productive you were in terms of hours tracked per day.
Or, go to Reports, to see a more detailed breakdown of your day: how much time you've spent on each activity, project, client (Summary Report), the activity's details (Detailed Report), and whether you have fulfilled your daily quota (Weekly Report).
Set manual estimates for each task in individual Project's details, to compare your tracked time vs estimated time, and see whether you need to improve.
10 • Execution
Multitasking may seem like a good idea, but it'll only ensure you perform subpar on several tasks, instead of finishing one task in the best possible way. You won't finish more tasks in the same amount of time it takes you to finish one task, but actually lose time by often switching from one activity to the next
As you can see, the "Cost" of switching between tasks will ensure you work about 15 minutes more when multitasking on three tasks, instead of focusing on one task at a time.
Also, studies suggest that multitasking lowers your IQ, and even damages your brain, by decreasing brain density in areas in charge of cognitive control. One research shows that multitasking can lower your productivity levels by 40%.
When in a meeting, avoid writing an outline for an unrelated project or answering emails. When programming, avoid discussing time estimates for your clients.
When you start working on any task, focus all your energy on finishing it, and only once you finish it, turn your attention to the next task.
11 • Execution
Learn and use keyboard shortcuts
Once you know how to work your way through a device using mostly your keyboard, you'll be more efficient and faster.
Almost every browser and operating system has its own set of keyboard shortcuts for almost every operation.
Although it would be tricky to learn all the shortcuts for the browser and operating system you use at once, you'll save yourself a lot of time if you learn the basic ones.
Alternatively, you can turn to a browser extension, if most of your work happens in browsers. For example, Chrome users can try Vimium.
12 • Execution
Do small tasks immediately
If you have a number of smaller tasks, it can be uplifting to group them together and tackle first thing in the morning.
List all the small tasks, the ones that take about 5 minutes to finish, and allocate them to the beginning of your work day.
After you finish each task, put a checkmark in front of it: you'll soon have a number of encouraging checkmarks in your to-do list, to boost your morale for the rest of the day.
13 • Execution
Put a checkmark in front of every task you finish
Creating a to-do list is important, but tracking the tasks you're working on can bring you motivation to keep going until the list is completed. That's because putting a checkmark in front of finished items helps you feel accomplished, and more in control of your daily workload.
After you've created a list, start from the most important task and work your way down: after you finish each individual task, put a checkmark in front of it.
From time to time, count the number of checkmarks and unmarked tasks, and compare them: you'll notice how the number of finished tasks grows over time, which will motivate you to push forward until there are no unmarked tasks.
14 • Execution
20% of input brings 80% of results
The 20/80 rule, known as the Pareto principle shows that it takes only 20% of your efforts to reach 80% of all your results. So, if you manage your daily schedule right, you may finish your most important work, with less effort.
When setting weekly, monthly or yearly goals, don't look at individual tasks, look at the big picture: what goals are so important that once you reach them, you'll be able to call the week, month or year a success? Single out these goals, and the tasks you have to perform to reach them, and focus on finishing these tasks.
15 • Time breaks
Take regular breaks
You may feel tempted to pursue your project without breaks, until you're done with it, but this way you risk burnout. Short breaks after certain periods of time are beneficial for your productivity, as they help improve focus for long time periods, as proven by researchers.
To ensure you do take breaks, you can implement the Pomodoro time management technique. Just parse your work into 25 minute work time (one Pomodoro), and 5 minute break time - this 25+5 minutes is one Pomodoro cycle. After 4 cycles, take a longer, 20 minute break.
You can tweak the rules, and change the amount of time you spend working, or on a break, but it's important that you do take breaks. During this time, you should relax, unwind, take a walk, or make yourself a cup of tea.
To make sure you do go on breaks, you can also rely on help from extensions, websites, or apps.
First, you can implement the Pomodoro timer in Clockify, which reminds you when you should take a break.
Learn more about Pomodoro Timer in Clockify.
Then, you can try an interesting website, that'll make you look forward to these breaks. You can try Silk, which is an interactive website for generating art. With it, you can relax, and combine colors and shapes to create interesting drawings.
After your break time is up, simply resume work for another 25 minutes. Rinse and repeat until your workday is done.
16 • Time breaks
Change your environment
Sticking around your workspace when on a short break may be the easiest, but not the most effective practice. Instead, you should change surroundings, to tell your brain it should unwind and relax during this period.
Simply, get up from your desk and go outside, or take a short walk around the house or offices. To really motivate yourself to leave the desk, always have an empty glass in front of you. This way, you'll have to get up to fill the glass with fresh coffee, tea or juice, so you'll be bound to change surroundings for a while.
17 • Time breaks
Have healthy and regular meals
You have to have healthy nutritious meals regularly, to avoid a sudden drop in your blood glucose. If you're hungry, your glucose levels suffer, and you're less likely to focus on your work.
A research suggests that, for optimal levels of productivity, about 25 grams of glucose in your blood is ideal, so it's important you don't skip meals. Another study claims that if you eat the right food, you can increase your productivity by 20%, so choose your meals wisely.
Take the time to plan your meals: when you'll have them, and what you'll eat. This way, you won't waste time deciding on what you'll eat during break time at work. Choose foods rich in healthy fats: fish, almonds, seeds.
For the vegetable option, choose raw carrots, as they are low in glycaemic rankings, which means they provide the brain with consistent levels of energy.
Opt for blackberries for a fruit meal, as they slow down the aging of the brain, thus helping productivity in the long run.
And for desert, eat a couple of bars of dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants.
18 • Time breaks
Go for a walk
Apart from being a healthy break option, you can actually consider your problems during this physical activity. Cal Newport, the author of the deep work concept, states that this is because walks occupy you physically, and not mentally. So, you feel more at ease thinking about professional problems, as it's not strictly on the agenda.
Simply go out of your house, or office building, and take a short walk around the block. When you return to your desk, you'll feel refreshed and maybe find that you have a solution to a work problem.
19 • Time breaks
Meditation is a great way for you to unwind and relax, and you can even use meditation time to make better decisions. An INSEAD Business School research suggests mindfulness meditation makes your thinking more rational, so you make better decisions.
There are various meditation practices, and you can pick the one that best suits you
- Focus on your thoughts by becoming aware of them (mindfulness meditation)
- Concentrate on your breathing
- Various other forms of meditation
You can find YouTube videos with meditation music, or turn to a meditation website that helps guide you through the process, such as Headspace.
20 • Distractions
List time wasters and track time you spend on them
We all have websites or activities we waste our time on when we should be working: social media, unimportant emails, our phones. It's important that we track the time we waste, in order to work on allocating this time to more important activities.
You can again turn to Clockify and its time tracking features, and make sure you track all the time you spend on time-wasting activities.
For example, each time you log in to Facebook, write "Facebook" in the "What's up" box in the Time tracker page.
As soon as you're done with your Facebook session, click "END", and the time entry will be added to your list. Do this for each phone or inbox check-up, and social media website. You can create a tag that says "Time Wasted" and attach it to all these time entries.
At the end of the week, go to your Summary report, filter by tag, and find the "Time Wasted" tag, to see the total time you've spent procrastinating in a week.
Once you have this this data, you'll be able to work on allocating this time to more important activities.
21 • Distractions
Use the 20-foot rule
The 20-foot rule applies to phones, and similar distraction. If you constantly procrastinate on your phone while working, perhaps you should put it at a safe distance, so it doesn't tempt you.
Just put your phone at least 20 feet from where you're working. Sure, you may feel the urge to go the distance and check your phone, but, after a while, the habit will become tiresome, and you'll stop.
22 • Distractions
Don't let people interrupt you
When you gain a momentum in your work, the last thing you need is someone interrupting you. This may be only a short interruption, but you're bound to lose focus, which then isn't easy to restore.
Implement the Inform/Negotiate/Call Back procedure:
- Inform the other party that you're busy at the moment
- Negotiate the time when you'll be able to address the other person's issue
- Call him or her back at the arranged time
This way, you won't break your work concentration, and you also won't offend the other person.
23 • Distractions
Use a website blocker
Sometimes, your own willpower won't be enough to stop you from procrastinating, so you're advised to rely on a higher force - a website blocker.
Unless your job requires you to post material on Social Media, spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and similar websites will only take away from the valuable time you have for you work.
These website blockers usually work on a similar principle: you install them on your device or browser, and then add the URLs of websites you wish to blacklist.
You can browse the internet for great solutions, try them, mix them up, and pick the blocker that best suits your needs. You can try a tool such as Focal Filter and Freedom. Or, an extension, such as StayFocused and Productivity Owl.
24 • Distractions
Unplug the Internet
Unplugging the Internet while you work may seem extreme, but it's more than efficient in stopping you procrastinate.
You may fall under the temptation to change the settings on your website blocker, but you're less likely to take constant walks to your router to plug and unplug your connection over and over again. You'll stay focused on work, without the danger of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and similar distractions.
Say you've just finished gathering all the material you need for a project, and conducting all your online research. You know you won't be needing the Internet for the rest of the day, so you unplug it, and concentrate on your tasks.
25 • Phone Calls
Phone calls can be time consuming, and it's important that you jot them down in your agenda. Although you can't predict when someone will call you, you'll save a lot of time if you plan the time you spend calling clients.
Pick the time of day when you're less likely to perform productive work: if you're a morning person, allocate the phone calls you're supposed to make to late afternoons. Before that time, focus on more profitable activities.
26 • Phone Calls
Paraphrase what you need to say
Paraphrasing and prioritizing what you have to say in a phone call makes you more concise, and less likely to stumble on what you want to communicate.
Make short notes on the most important points you want to convey: this can be a breakdown of research results by sub-topics, or a list of bugs you want to report.
Make your sentence short and clear, and ensure you're informative. This way, you'll finish the call faster, and minimize the need for a second call about the same topic.
27 • Phone Calls
Summarize what you have agreed on with your caller
It's important that you're clear on what the final points on your agreement with the caller are. This way, you're less likely to feel unsure about the end deal, so you're less likely to waste time on making another call.
While talking, jot down some of the main points of the conversation in your notebook. Once you notice the conversation is nearing its end, summarize the main points with the caller, to confirm everything is clear.
For example, if you and your caller have agreed on a meeting during the conversation, you can end the call by saying: "Great, we'll meet at my office at 11am at Monday to discuss the project details". Make sure to be clear and precise, and to only focus on the relevant details in your summaries.
28 • Phone Calls
If you're constantly answering the same questions, keep a FAQ note
If various callers usually ask you the same set of questions, keep a paper with most frequent questions and their answers nearby. This will save you a lot of time, because you'll automate a part of most phone call conversations.
When you first start making these calls, you'll notice different clients ask the same questions: "How long will my project take?", "How much will it cost?", "What other services do you offer?", etc.
You can write down these questions, and note in the 2-3 variations for your answers, which you'll then be able to rotate with different clients, depending on their specific needs.
29 • Emails
Unsubscribe to emails you never read
Inbox clutter slows down your daily email check-ups, because you sometimes have to scroll up and down over and over again, to look for the email you're expecting. The best time-saving practice is to simply unsubscribe from emails you never, or rarely read.
Unsubscribing manually can take some time, so it's best that you let an app do it for you. Unroll.me is a nice option that shows you a concise list of your email subscriptions, and lets you unsubscribe to irrelevant emails in a click.
30 • Emails
Whitelists and Blacklists
You inbox is always in danger of spam mail, so you better update your whitelist and blacklist settings frequently. This way, you can be sure you'll avoid spam, but you'll also make sure that truly important emails are never lost.
If you use gmail services, just add all IP addresses of emails you want to receive to the whitelist, and add all IP addresses of emails you wish to avoid, to the blacklist. This way, you'll limit the number of IP addresses that are allowed to send emails to your domain, which will further declutter your inbox, and make it more manageable.
31 • Emails
Keep responses short and on point
Longer emails may cover all the details, but shorter response take less time to write, and are usually more clear and concise.
For short, concise emails include:
- Clear email purpose
- Really brief introduction
- Clear points
- Short words and sentences
- No more than 5 sentences
- Short and pleasant closing
32 • Emails
Check emails only at a certain time of day
Frequently checking your inbox during the day may seem like a good practice, but you lose a lot of time by switching from your work to emails.
To save time, it's best that you check your inbox only at certain times a day, and no more than twice. For example, you can check emails in the morning, when you arrive at work, and in the late afternoon, half-an-hour before your workday ends.
33 • Emails
Track the time you spend on emails
Emails are one of the biggest time wasters for working people, and it's important that you know how much time you really spend managing your inbox. This way, you'll know how much time you could allocate to more important activities.
Use a time tracker like Clockify to track the time you really spend on emails using a timer.
Just create a tag saying "emails", and each time you start to work on your inbox, create a time entry for it in the Time Tracker page and attaching the "emails" tag to it.
Log your email time each day for a month, and then go to the Summary report to see your results. You can choose for example "This month", filter by the "emails" tag, and see how much time you've really spent on emails each day.
34 • Meetings
Determine part of the day, or week for meetings, and stick to this schedule
Meetings can take a lot of our time, and easily swirl into procrastination, so it's important to determine the right time, and day to hold them.
It's important to pick a day people are most likely to be productive, so that everyone is alert. It's also important to pick a time when everyone is free of other important tasks.
One research shows that Tuesdays around 2:30 are the best time for a meeting, because people are attentive, but also unburdened, because they're already done with their most important workload.
35 • Meetings
Plan an agenda
Decide on the main points you and your team should go over in the meeting, because the conversation will be less likely to stray away to unimportant matters.
Create the agenda a couple of days in advance. Determine who should attend. Then, determine the meeting objective, and stick to it.
And most importantly, set the time for each topic, but don't oversheduale it. If you do, people might start talking about matters unrelated to the objective, simply because they have the time.
For example, your schedule can look like this
- Short intro (2 mins)
- Review for the previous project (5 mins)
- Brainstorming for an upcoming project (10 minutes)
- Setting goals and deadlines for them (5 mins)
36 • Meetings
Use meetings for collaborative activities
The entire team will be at one place at the same time, so meetings are perfect for collaborative activities, such as brainstorming. You'll make all relevant people feel included in the process, and save the time it takes to get everyone's opinion outside meeting time.
Devote your entire agenda for the meeting to a string of problems your team has to solve for the current project. Or, use meeting time to work on an important company decision. You can have someone take notes on what people are saying, or write the most important output on the whiteboard. Afterwards, vote on the best solutions.
37 • Health
Exercise improves health overall, but it also helps you perform better at your job. One research shows that exercise can help you maintain the same number of brain cells as you age. It can also help you feel more energized, thus more likely to tackle challenging work tasks successfully.
One research suggests exercises that are low in intensity are best to help you conquer fatigue, so don't practice strenuous workouts. Another, more specific research shows that cycling is excellent for temporary improvements in memory, attention, and problem-solving capabilities.
38 • Health
People tend to skip the morning meal because they're often in a hurry to get to work. But, breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, as it gives you the energy to start working.
Choose your first meal of the day carefully: a quick cup of coffee and a chocolate scone may bring you a surge in energy, but this effect will quickly dwindle down. Instead, opt for a breakfast rich in proteins: eggs, either poached or scrambled, are a great choice, as they help enhance your memory.
As a breakfast alternative, you can even opt for ice cream. One Japanese study suggests that eating ice cream for breakfast makes you more alert, and better at processing information.
39 • Health
Get enough sleep
You may think it's a good idea to take time from your sleep to do more work during the day, but this a counterproductive practice. According to a research made by Williamson & Feyer (2000), sleep deprivation can lead to an effect similar to a drunk state, so your productivity won't be up to par.
According to the National Sleep Foundation you ideally need to sleep for 7 or 8 hours every day. So, it's important that you go to bed at the right time, to have at least 7 hours left to sleep. The particular time depends on when you're the most productive: if you're a morning person, going to bed before midnight is advised.
One research shows that warming up your body before bed is great for sleep, so take a warm shower before going to bed. Make sure the room is pleasantly cool and put on some soothing music, and you'll be asleep in no time. When you wake up in the morning, you'll feel refreshed and ready to tackle new tasks.
40 • Health
A study conducted at the University of East London show that drinking water expands gray matter in the brain. According to the same study, staying hydrated makes you up to 14% more productive.
Although drinking 8 glasses are water is the most common advice you'll hear, the amount of water you should drink depends. For better health, and better productivity, stay hydrated by:
- Drinking when you're thirsty
- Not forcing yourself to drink more water than you feel you need
- Drinking more water after exercises, to compensate the lost fluids
41 • Free time
Organize your documents and desktop files
After a workday, you should declutter your desk and desktop. This action indicates it's time to stop thinking about work, and it helps you start tomorrow's work day in an organized setting.
Go through your desktop files: delete the files and folders you won't be needing anymore, and organize new, related files into folders and sub-folders. Do the same with your work desk: put away papers you won't be needing anytime soon, and put the papers you'll be needing tomorrow within arm's reach.
42 • Free time
Unwind and stop thinking about work
Thinking about work you've done, or worrying about the work you'll have to do tomorrow isn't going to help you solve your problems. Relaxation time is mandatory for your health, so take a couple of hours before bed, to unwind.
Read a book, indulge in your favorite hobby, or spend some quality time with your family and friends. You'll feel relaxed and unburdened, so you'll be more likely to think up a solution to potential work issues later.
43 • Free time
Make time for your hobbies
Hobbies are great for your productivity as they help energize you, prevent burnout, and spark your creativity. You'll feel refreshed, and this creativity is likely to carry over to your work and problem-solving activities.
Before going to bed, make time for your favorite hobbies: cooking, painting, photography, writing, or whatever pleases you. The only requirement is that your hobby should make you use a particular skill, and that you practice it regularly.
44 • Free time
Read a book
Researchers agree that reading a book is beneficial for your brain and health overall: it keeps your mind sharp, reduces stress by 68% percent, and increases intelligence.
The above researches apply only to paper books, so reading an ebook won't bring you such benefits. You can make it a habit to read a book in bed, before going to sleep, as reading a book also helps you fall asleep faster afterwards.
45 • Free time
Make a weekly review of the work you've done
It's important that you know what tasks you've finished, to track progress with a project, and estimate the amount of work you have to do for next week.
Gather all your to-do lists from the week before, and count your checkmarks. Have you finished all your planned tasks, or do you need to allocate and schedule some of them to next week's to-do lists? Have you finished all your most important tasks? If not, mark them as "urgent", and allocate as your first assignments on Monday morning.
Go through your Weekly report in Clockify, one that tells you how much time you've tracked each day the previous week.
Analyze the data, to see whether you've been bellow quota on some days. Think about the time improvements you can make for next week's work.
46 • Free time
Work for 2 to 4 hours on weekends
Though you should spend most of this time unwinding, allocating some work-time to the weekend can actually help you relax your workload for next week.
Pick less important tasks, those that would only take you away from more important activities next week. Work on them for 2 to 4 hours on Saturday and Sunday. This is enough for you to do some meaningful work, but also leave enough space for non-work, typical weekend activities.
47 • Free time
Set weekly goals
Creating a to-do list with clear goals for next week will save you time, as you'll have a clear idea on what awaits you in the week to come.
For example, it'll be less likely you'll forget an important report that's due on Friday, as you'll give yourself time to think about this task and allocate it to a certain day.
You don't have to make an extensive to-do list with goals included for the whole week: just list the goals you have to achieve, and allocate them to days next week. You'll set time estimates and deadlines for their completion the evening before the day you'll actually work on them.
48 • Free time
Plan your meals and outfits for next week
Thinking about meals and outfits 10 minutes before you need them can be both time consuming and stressful, especially if you're in a hurry. So, planning in advance is bound to help you, and even save you more time for enjoying your meals.
Again, you don't have to go into too much detail. Just fold all the 5 outfits you want to wear next week at one place, so it'll be easy to take them when needed. Do your grocery shopping on Sunday, and make a rough idea of a menu for next week.
49 • General tips
Allow yourself enough time to finish
It may seem like a good idea to set yourself strict deadlines, because you'll be alert the whole time working on it, but this is a stressful tactic. You'll risk burnout, and may even feel so stressed out trying to beat an impossible deadline, that you'll lose patience with it altogether.
Set leaner deadlines, to give yourself enough time to think about each part of the task, as you're doing it. You'll have more time for reviews, and you're likely to finish earlier, which will boost your morale, and motivate you to tackle the next task on your to-do list.
59 • General tips
Make good use of your TV
Minimizing the time you spend watching TV sounds common enough, but researchers claim that you actually work better with the TV on in the background. This way, you'll have the perfect productivity noise to help you keep focus on your task.
When you start working on a work task at home, make sure your TV is on, and set it to a moderate volume: this is the best volume for creative thinking.
51 • General tips
Don't rush the task in the end
Working on a task carefully for 7 hours straight and then rushing it in the last half-hour because you're eager to finish, may ruin your hard work beforehand. Your final calculations may prove to be off, and you'll have to work your way up the project to find what, and in one point it all went wrong. Fixing it can take even more time.
When you feel tired and eager to finish, don't rush to the finish line, but take a short break, and think about something other than work. Go get a snack, and have a cup of tea or coffee. Once you resume work, you'll feel refreshed, and more likely to think straight and finish the task in a quality way.
52 • General tips
Don't visualize your success
One research showed that positive visualisations, in which you see yourself succeeding, drain the energy out of your ambition, actually making you less likely to succeed. If you see yourself reaching your end goal, your brain will believe you have already reached it, and you'll lose your drive and focus.
Instead, the same research suggests you try critical visualisations: think about your obstacles and setbacks, and try viewing potential failure as something normal. This way, you'll stay alert enough to remain focused, but feel less stressed out about the outcome of your task.
53 • General tips
Avoid being a perfectionist
If you aim for perfectionism in your work, chances are you'll spend a lot of time tweaking every detail to be just right. You'll procrastinate while waiting for the perfect moment to mark your work as "done", wasting the time you could've allocated to other activities.
Set realistic goals about your work performance, and think of your mistakes as lessons that'll make you better in the future. This way, you won't fear imperfectionism and mistakes as much, and won't spend more time on tasks than needed.
54 • General tips
Taking on too much responsibilities will make sure that you don't perform your best on your most important tasks. You'll feel torn between numerous tasks, and won't have enough time to work on all of them, which will bring poor results.
When people make you requests, think about whether you'll have time for them. Does generating reports on all the projects for this month interfere with the research you have to make for your new project? And which one of the two tasks is more important
Prioritize your tasks, make time estimates, and be realistic. If you find you won't have time for a request, say so, and explain in short why. The other person will know he or she should delegate the task to someone else, and you'll have time to focus on more pressing issues.
55 • General tips
Do some of your work during commutes
Travelling to and from work may seem like wasted time, but if you work on some of your tasks while in a bus or train, you'll have more time for other activities once you reach the office.
Pick some tasks you can do without the help of your colleagues. This can be notes on bugs you'll disclose at your next team meeting, or the client's requirements for a project you have to read and analyze. You don't have to spend the entire commute working, but a half-an-hour can go a long way in helping you ease your workload.
56 • General tips
Practice your ability to perform deep work
Deep work is the ability to focus all your attention on a cognitively demanding task, which ensures you finish a task faster, but in a quality way.
Cal Newport talks in more detail about this state in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, but here are the main takeaways:
- Avoid distractions (no phones, no Social Media)
- Include routines and rituals in your work
- Spend 1 to 4 hours concentrating on work (as time goes by, you'll be able to work your way up from 1 hour to 4 hours)
- Unwind afterwards
57 • General tips
Make most important tasks into habits
Brushing your teeth or eating breakfast are effortless habits you barely even think about when performing them, and you will benefit from turning your work into a habit. You'll feel it's just a natural part of your day, so you'll rarely have problems tackling your usual tasks.
If debugging is your main responsibility, make it a habit by clearly setting the rules and steps you'll take each day:
- Identify whether there are errors
- Find errors in the code
- Fix the bugs in most used functions first
- Fix other bugs in the order you locate them afterwards
Work on this list until debugging feels as natural as brushing your teeth: familiar and straightforward, with clearly set manageable rules.
58 • General tips
Set reminders 15-30 minutes before a task
Sometimes you'll need short preparation time before an activity, like review time of your notes before a meeting. So, you'll want to be notified beforehand to prepare.
Most online calendars have the function to notify you 15 to 30 minutes before an activity, and Google Calendar is a good choice for this purpose.