Productivity Tips and Tools Turn Guesswork into Power Plans

Planning leads to productivity!

Planning leads to productivity!

Productivity can seem elusive sometimes, but finding the time you need to do the things you need to do isn’t a matter of magic … or guesswork.

No, when it comes right down to it, what productivity requires is planning.

And for planning to be successful, you need to be able to make accurate estimates about how long each task on your list of priorities is going to take.

That may sound simple, but many  people find that their guesstimates leave them stranded for time.  Are you one of them? If so, these tips will help you calculate how much time you need for upcoming projects.

But before we get to the tips, let’s consider why estimating time for tasks can be so challenging.

For one thing, your sense of time is highly subjective. It can be affected by your mood, by the task you’re working on, by how you’re feeling physically – all sorts of factors.

Think about your perceptions of the time involved in different activities. For example, hunting down online support for a technical problem might make 20 minutes feel like an hour. But by the same token, think of how time flies when you are enjoying a meal with a friend.

So, try charting your time. It gives you concrete information, removes subjectivity, and ultimately sharpens your estimating and scheduling skills. Tracking your time for a week or two will inform your perceptions, your planning, and your productivity.

Now, here are your 3 Tips – they put productivity tools into your hands and enhance your planning skills!

Tip#1: Prepare a typical to do list for the day ahead. From that list, select:

  • One task that you enjoy,
  • One you feel neutral about, and
  • One task that you dislike.

Tip #2: Write the 3 tasks down and then next to each item or task, estimate how long you think you’ll need to finish it.

Then, as you complete each task, write down the time it actually took, right next to your estimate.

What do you learn?

Tip #3: Experiment. Shuffle the time of day when you engage in these activities.

Again, record the time needed to get each job done. Ask yourself:

  • When is the best time to tackle tasks that require creativity? Or focus?
  • When is the most efficient time to take on a task you dislike?
  • What other factors play in?

Explore your options until you pinpoint the best time to approach each project, the ideal conditions, and how much time to set aside.

Bonus Tip: Repeat Steps #1 and #2 with a new set of three tasks and reflect on the following questions:

  • If you start out with a project you’ve felt overwhelmed by, what happens?
  • What changes do you make to complete difficult tasks?
  • What patterns emerge?

Keep working with this process until you have filled in the information for each thing you do. Your time planning and scheduling will be much more successful, now that you can realistically assess how much time you need. Not only will you be more productive, but having enough time to do what you need to do is a very powerful stress-reducer, too.

And remember, if it happens that unexpected events eat up a portion of your days, try scheduling in some buffer time. In fact, buffer time is an important time tool to cultivate and use.

This exercise helps you to schedule specific tasks during times you can take care of them most efficiently. And you can now set aside the time you actually need, not what you think you ‘might’ need. You will be able to greet each day with a clearer sense of your capabilities and a deeper appreciation of how much you actually accomplish.

So, what is your next step to build stronger time techniques like estimation and to use them effectively? You can explore practical and effective options for finding more time by signing up for our free gift, the Finding Time Success Kit.

The Kit includes “The New Finding Time Boundary Template: 9 Simple, Sequential Steps to Find More Time and Recharge Your Energy!”  This time template will help you move beyond overwhelm. Using a workbook format, with room to record your answers, you will discover that 24 hours really are enough!

Claim your Template – and the entire, FREE Success Kit at http://thetimeschool.com/Success

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