by Josh Millar
Who couldn’t use a productivity boost in 2019? With the new year just beginning, it’s a great opportunity to take a step back, look at how you’ve managed your time over the last year, and make some adjustments for the year ahead. Whether you decide to set specific resolutions for the upcoming year or prefer to simply make some adjustments to your day-to-day life, here are a few tips that can help supercharge your time-management efforts:
Adopt a strategy
Yup, just one. At least to start. I find that resolutions often backfire when they’re overly ambitious or complicated. If you start January armed with 10 new time-management strategies and find that, by February, you’ve already abandoned a few, it can feel discouraging. So, start small and work your way up. Pick one strategy to implement starting in January. Maybe it’s using the Eisenhower decision matrix or creating a to-do list that actually works. Try it out for a while, and see if it works for you. If it does, build a habit around using that strategy, and then incorporate another.
Ditch a bad habit
While you’re thinking of positive time-management habits you’d like to bring into your life, it’s not a bad idea to also consider the habits that aren’t as helpful. I think a similar approach as above is a great way to start. Identify just one habit that’s limiting your productivity, and focus on eliminating that. Maybe you want to stop procrastinating or stop relying on multitasking. When you narrow it down to just one habit, you can be more concentrated in your efforts to avoid it.
Set a reminder
For many of us, our cell phone is a constant companion, so we might as well use it to support our productivity. If you’re committed to better time management in 2019, decide to make your phone a tool to help you stay on track, not a source of distraction. In Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, he recommends setting an hourly alert that reminds you to ask yourself, “am I doing what I should be doing right now?”. It sounds simplistic, but it’s a great way to bar from the many distractions that suck us in. When that alarm goes off while you’re mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, it will pull you back to the things that truly need your attention.
Follow a rule
Set a clean and simple rule for yourself that will support your time-management efforts and hold you accountable. I recommend this: If there’s a task on your to-do list that can be accomplished in two minutes or less, do it now. When you give yourself a straightforward rule, there’s no room for excuses or delay. Need to send a quick response to that client’s email? Rather than putting it off to work on other things, if you know it’s just a brief message, write it up and send now. Then, you can cross it off your list, so it won’t be looming as you work on other projects.
I think one of the keys to time-management success is being realistic. If time management is something you really struggle with, don’t just throw yourself into a strictly-regimented plan. Work your way up to optimal productivity one step at a time. Even if you feel like your current strategy just needs a few tweaks, it’s a perfect time to introduce a new technique to help. Wherever you are with your time-management efforts, I hope these tips help you kick off 2019 ready for success.