You know those days when it seems impossible to get everything done on your huge to-do list? Or when you end up wasting so much time stressing out about how many things need to get done that you end up getting even less done than normal?
I know this feeling all too well.
It’s important to realize that we’ve all been there. We’ve all sat and sulked for a length of time, stressing over the amount of stuff that needs to get done in front of us. Over the years I’ve discovered some great time management strategies that have helped me cope during those moments of panic. Here are some strategies that have helped me be successful at managing my time.
For small businesses, it’s always great to know different sources you can go to that help you with time management. Throughout the years, I have found some great apps that have really helped me stay organized with my time and get things done. Let me name some that you can use starting today.
Have you ever heard of the pomodoro technique? The main idea is that you give yourself a length of time that you will devote to strictly working, and then give yourself a quick break once you’ve completed your work time. Focus Booster is a great time management app that focuses on this technique.
When you open the app, a timer will pop up on your computer. From the app settings, you can specify how much time you will work before your break. I like to set my timer for 25 minutes, where I put in 25 minutes of solid, focused work.
Then I take a quick break for five minutes, where I take some time checking my email, going on a quick walk, or grabbing a quick snack. After the five minutes is up, it’s back to work for another 25. This has helped me stay focused when I really don’t want to get something done. I’ve trained myself to be completely focused while the timer’s going. It’s a great way to end procrastination.
Ever wanted to gamify your life? Habitica is a great tool to get things done in a really fun way. When you get your free account, you create a character that looks like it came from an old video game.
You then are taken to a screen that has different categories that help you manage your time: habits, dailies, and to-dos. For example, I can put “writing a blog post” in the to-dos section and as soon as I finish the blog post, I can check it off the list. But what makes it fun is that when I check it off the list, I get experience points, game money, and possibly an item.
As you continue checking off different goals you set, your character levels up and eventually gets to be in a class, such as a warrior, mage, or thief. When I started using this app, I started getting addicted to getting things done because I just wanted to level up the whole time.
Another cool feature about it is that you can bring on a team and go on “quests” together, where, when you accomplish your goals, your progress goes towards completing the quest. This is a great app for people who love video games but want to push themselves to get stuff done in real life as well.
If you are familiar with ZipBooks at all, you know that we have a built-in time tracker.
ZipBooks is free accounting software that has a great time tracking app that lets you track your time effortlessly, so you can get paid for your work. You can use the time tracker from the the app or through Google from the Google Chrome extension and start tracking your time right from your home page.
What I like about the ZipBooks time tracker is that it is so easy to use. If I want to time myself for any aspect of my work, I can just get right to it and start tracking time. I can also add a new project, rate, and task directly from the timer.
Rescue Time is a great app if you want to find out what kind of things you do on the internet throughout the day and what you can cut out to be more effective with your time. They give you detailed reports that show what sites you go to the most and how much time you spend on each site.
This app helped me cut some of my internet hours so that I could spend time doing things I really wanted to do.
One interesting idea that I have been studying up on is Parkinson’s Law. This idea explains that if you give yourself too much time to complete a task, the time to complete that task will expand according to the time you give yourself.
If I decide that it will take me two weeks to complete a project that should only take me three days to complete, it will naturally end up taking that long. So a great way to avoid taking more time than you need is by actually giving yourself less time to complete a task and giving your all to beat that time.
If it usually takes me a week to fully compose a song on the piano, I would push to compose a song in four days instead. If I get it done in four days pretty easily, I know I can probably cut down my time even more. It is crucial to actually hit the time you set for yourself for this to work, otherwise you won’t believe you can do it later.
I was in an intensive work environment once where we had to set goals for each week and at the end of the week we would have to report our achievements to our leaders. It seemed random when we actually would achieve our goals and when we wouldn’t.
After giving it a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that our biggest problem was that we didn’t break up our weekly goals into daily goals. After setting our weekly goals, I decided to set daily goals at the same time.
I would set my daily goals higher at the beginning of the week, knowing that if something went wrong, we would have a few days to catch up. When I started doing this, we accomplished our goals almost every time. It allowed us to see what we needed to do each day to get everything done during that week.
I know there are a lot of different ways to get things done and certain things work better for others. Try giving some of these techniques and apps a try and see what works best for you. Don’t get down on yourself if you still have trouble managing your time. Just take it one day at a time and you’ll get better at it. What one will you try today?