When you’re just starting your career, it can be tough to manage your time effectively. You might find yourself wasting a lot of time trying to do too many things at once or get bogged down in insignificant details.
Étienne Garbugli, a Montreal-based designer and author, understands the challenges that come with running a business. As he’s gotten older, he’s managed to learn how to better use his time as well as plan workloads more efficiently. Along the way, he also discovered what strategies work best for him and his fellow entrepreneurs.
In 2013, one of his presentations on time management titled “26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20” went viral and was named the “Most Liked Presentation” by SlideShare. All to keep up with current trends, he created another presentation this year called “25 Time Management Hacks to Kickstart the New Year.”
The presentation touched on some great points that are essential for success no matter what your age is. If you start to implement these habits when you’re young, they’ll stay relevant throughout your entire career.
- There is always time.
If you don’t finish something on time, it’s because you likely considered it less urgent or enjoyable than what else you were doing.
- Days always fill up faster than you’d expect.
Include some additional time in your schedule to account for the unexpected. You can do this by not being too specific with your plans. According to Garbugli, “The more precise a task or objective is, the easier it is to miss.”
- You get more done when you’re in the zone.
Everyone has an “off” day now and then, but make the most of the days when you can focus for long periods of time.
- You should pursue activities that benefit both your professional and personal lives.
“Align your professional and personal goals for maximum efficiency,” author Chris Guillebeau says. Invest time in taking courses that will make you more hirable instead of language classes for a country you have no intention of visiting. For example, if your goal is to work in the U.S., learn Spanish rather than Japanese.
- There’s a difference between pushing yourself and burning out.
Though it may seem like a counterintuitive use of time, taking breaks is essential to being productive. If you don’t allow your body and mind the chance to recharge, you’ll likely find yourself achieving less than if you had taken some time for relaxation.
- Multitasking kills your focus.
When you multitask, your brain has to work harder as it constantly readjusts its focus. This can be exhausting and result in decreased productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique was created by an Italian, evidenced by its name deriving from the word “pomodoro” which means tomato in English. The inventor used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his source of inspiration.
- Distractions can be controlled.
You might want to attempt the Pomodoro Technique where you separate your work into 25-minute sections with three to five-minute breaks in between. Another option is utilizing software like SelfControl which doesn’t allow you access to sites such as Facebook or Twitter for certain amounts of time.
- Accomplishing something small is the best way to get working.
Starting your day with a small, quick task can help you ease into more difficult projects later on. Answering important work emails first thing in the morning is a great way to get your mind moving and set yourself up for success.
[Read: 5 To-Do Lists Worth Making Today]
- Being a perfectionist can be a major crutch for day-to-day activities.
Gen. George S. Patton once said, “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
- More work hours don’t always result in more productivity.
Don’t try to convince yourself that you’ll get more work done by sitting at your desk all day. Do whatever you can to finish your current task during regular work hours instead of working overtime.
- Work that requires focused thinking and work that doesn’t should be separated.
If you frequently stop your work to consider something again, you’re only hindering your productivity.
- Menial tasks should be blocked off.
You’ll hinder your productivity if you’re emailing or revising your calendar throughout the day. Devote a section of time for these jobs instead.
- It’s best to reply to someone as soon as you read their correspondence if it will take you a couple of minutes or less.
Apply “Getting Things Done” author David Allen’s “Two-Minute Rule” to your written correspondence: If an email can be answered in that time, then respond immediately rather than setting it aside.
Nick Saban is one of the most successful college football coaches in history because of his intense focus and ability to motivate young athletes.
- Massive tasks are easier to manage when seen as increments.
If you want your players to win, don’t have them focus on the championship; make them only think about the current play. That’s Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s philosophy which he refers to as the Process.
- If it takes more than 20 minutes to get started, you should change tasks.
If you find that you’re not making progress, no matter the reason, move on and pick up something else to get yourself back into a productive mindset.
- No two tasks ever hold the same importance.
Your daily to-do list is a fantastic tool for organization, but only if you prioritize it. By starting your day with the most pressing tasks, you leave room to accomplish less important objectives when you are struggling mentally.
[Related: 6 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder]
- Always know the one thing you need to get done during the day.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what to do next, ask yourself what the most important task is and make that your priority.
- It’s necessary to delegate some work to other people.
A key to success is being able to delegate work and not be afraid of it. “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!” says John C. Maxwell, author of “How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.”
- Focusing on the past will hinder progress.
It can be tempting to reflect on your past accomplishments or mistakes, but try to resist the urge and focus on what’s happening currently.
- Take notes.
If you want to remember all of your good ideas, don’t just rely on your memory. Get a notebook, whiteboard, or Evernote app, and make sure to write everything down.
- Keeping larger objectives in mind will help get you through your days.
“Keep your eyes on the real prize,” Garbugli writes. “Focus on the objectives, not the tasks. Keep them in sight.”
This article was originally published on Business Insider.
Photo: Unsplash / Pixabay