Most of us have good intentions when it comes to time management and productivity, yet, often our well-scheduled days get highjacked. This is incredibly frustrating and causes multitudes of people to throw in the towel and scream “what is the point?” Don’t give up! Here are three practical ways you can increase productivity and stick to your calendar.
In my last post, I explained how to plan your weeks in a such a way where you are able to accomplish the tasks that are most important to you and spend time with the people you value most. The only way to accomplish this feat is to budget the 168 hours in your week. We all know, though, that each day comes with unplanned interruptions that tend to throw our schedules off course.
The best way to disallow these interruptions to throw you off track is to actually plan for them; simply leave time in your calendar for distractions. I normally allow for ten to eighteen hours of interruptions each week. If you get interrupted during a scheduled task, move that particular task to one of the time blocks you have set aside for interruptions.
Learn to Say No
The best way to keep your schedule intact is to learn to say the incredibly powerful and empowering word, “No.” To be sure, there are times when people really need our help, and in those moments, we welcome interruptions to help those we love. Many times, though, we are asked to do unurgent, menial tasks for others that move us away from that which we deem most important; yet, we do these things because we hate saying, “No!”
Learn to say “no,” to those things which are not urgent. Don’t let good things keep you from the best things.
- No, I can’t take a two-hour lunch with you today.
- No, I don’t have time for this unscheduled meeting this week.
- No, actually it is NOT a good time to talk right now. I am in the middle of an important task.
Temporarily Block/Delete Social Media
One of the other enemies of time management is social media. Almost every time I pull up a web browser, I unconsciously type “facebook” into the address bar. Additionally, I find myself picking up my phone to check all my social media outlets when I should be working. These distractions have, on many days, taken over my calendar. To combat social media takeover I recommend two simple steps that have really helped me: Turn your phone off or keep it away from you and temporarily block social media sites.
I have started turning my phone off during important tasks and checking it just once an hour (at the most) to make sure I haven’t missed important calls. If you don’t want to turn it off, I at least recommend putting it in another room where you have to physically get up to check it.
For the computer, I use a Chrome extension called Website Blocker to temporarily block sites that are a continual distraction to me. When I attempt to go to Facebook, I have a custom message displayed that tells me to get back to work. This simple step has been incredibly effective in helping me stay on track.
Your calendar will only work to the degree to which you stick to it. Your time is important; guard it with your life!