Time Management – How Productive Are You?

Productivity (Management of Time) is just as important in an internet business, your personal life as in a factory environment or you will never achieve your goals. In a machine paced work environment it is very easy to work out how effective workers are using their time but in an office environment it is more difficult to measure productivity.

Time is a precious commodity once it is gone it’s gone and you can’t get it back!!

The interaction of goals and time management is an important factor in achieving success in your internet or in fact any business. How many times have you said yourself or heard someone say

“There are not enough hours in the day”

Be honest with yourself would it make any difference if you had 50 or even a 100hrs in a day.

Organising your work schedule so that you achieve your business or personal goals is not an inborn skill but a skill that can be learned.

Here is a list of things in a home based internet business that can have a detrimental effect on your productivity or achieving your goals

  • Delay doing those tasks or the work which we don’t like doing or is difficult
  • Interruptions – family members, friends – apart from the time lost you can also lose your train of thought
  • Lack of clearly defined goals with no timescale
  • Not appreciating that you can’t do everything yourself – outsource or delegate
  • Multitasking – complete one task before moving onto the next i.e. Prioritizing tasks
  • In order to understand where we are currently wasting time, we need to establish a baseline to see how much time is being wasted in a day and then take steps to reduce the unproductive time. A simple table recording everything that you do for two 24hr periods, account for every minute of the day – including sleep time, meals, watching television, etc.

Task Time Started Time Finished Total Time Comments
I have previously used this technique before in determining the productivity of office and management staff, you will really be surprised the amount of unproductive time that you have in the day

Step 2 – analyse your results split out into headings e.g. reading emails, eating, chatting to wife, coffee etc, then work out productive time vs. unproductive time

Step 3 – take action to improve your productive time

Step 4 – repeat the procedure after one week and you should see a 50 to 60% improvement in your effective time

You should recheck the utilization once/month to ensure that you have not slipped back into bad habits.

Pareto Analysis and Time Management

Utilizing Pareto Analysis in Time Management

Another technique which can be used to analyse your effective use of time is Pareto Analysis and this will help you to choose the most effective changes to make

What is Pareto Analysis?

It is a theory developed by an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noted that approximately 80% of the wealth was owned by only 20% of the population. It later became known as the 80-20 rule and can be applied to problem-solving in any form and it is a useful tool in analyzing your effective use of time and increasing your productivity.

One of the first steps in learning to effectively utilize time is to identify repeated patterns in your daily schedule that may be interfering with
productivity.

Step 1

Keep a simple time log for a week in 30 min blocks, accounting for all the time you spentand a brief description of what you did.. At the end of the period total up the time spent under the various categories e.g. travelling to work, sleeping, answering calls, playing with kids

Step 2

Analyse the data looking for blocks of time in your time log that could be interfering with your productivity e.g. surfing net, visiting forums – looked for repeated patterns during the week not just one-off occurrences

An example of this would be to identify only two 15 minute blocks of time in your normal day when you find that you are being the least productive. By changing the way you currently use these 2 small blocks of
time, theoretically you should be able to increase your productivity by up to 80 percent.

“from tiny acorns big oaks grow”

Better time management does not mean giving up all your free time, or all the time you currently spend relaxing or enjoying your life. Instead, it helps you

Set priorities for managing time, eliminate wasted time and gain more control over how you use this valuable resource.

Business Time Management

There are considerably more factors to be taken into consideration when looking at business time management. This is because as there more competing factors for one’s time – both internal and external factors.

This is true whether you work in a large organisation or run your own one man business.

In a large organisation individual managers have to co-ordinate the effective time management of their teams.

There are a number of strategies that an organisation can undertake to implement effective time management processes.

Process

Develop long term goals for the company, usually in the form of a mission statement – once you have clearly defined your company’s goals and purpose it is a lot easier to develop individual goals for your employees. In a previous article I stated that it is important if you are going to use your time effectively then you have to have goals.It is difficult to effectively plan schedules and priorities when your employees have no clear objectives of their own.

The process is very similar to setting your own goals and then splitting it down into its component parts, in this case the individual goals are given to managers, who will in turn split these down into component parts for their team members.

This can be implemented by introducing an appraisal system where indiividuals are set objectives (goals) with specific timescales

Implementing and defining these goals will assist in boosting productivity and revenue.

Another factor which has to be taken into consideration, involves hiring the right personnel who already possess the necessary skills, not only does this lessen the downtime and financial outlay required with training to get them up to speed but it also decreases revenue losses sustained from lost productivity. It?s important to hire the right people, this will ultimately determine how your companies time and resources are spent.

Effective time management in an organisation also has to take into consideration the relative skills of individuals that they employ. It is important to hire the right people as this will ultimately determine how your company’s time and resources are spent.

Training should also be given to your current employees to teach them how to effectively use their time.

This will not only improve their productivity but also lead to a more effective workforce.

Tips for Effective Personal Time Management

Effective personal time management requires that you take time to lay out a plan of what you need to do at each particular time. You can plan for a day by drawing a timetable with needs to be accomplished and the corresponding time it should be carried out. Longer periods can be planned for using calendars, diaries or event note books.

Set goals in your life both short and long term as this will give you direction and prevent you from getting sidetracked due to lack of goals. Having specific goals will guide you towards a certain direction and help you to maintain focus. Set goals that are measurable, achievable, realistic, and more important time-bound. Appropriate goals will stretch but will not break you.


Learn to prioritize the tasks that you need to undertake depending on their immediacy and importance. Identify and isolate the most important or influential tasks and always give them the best of your time. You can use colors or numbers to mark your tasks in order of priority.


Draw up a to-do-list the previous night or on the morning of a particular day. This can be used alongside a timetable or a task schedule in case of a day. In the case of longer periods such as weeks or months, it is used alongside a calendar. Update your list continuously to match it with your priorities.

Allow considerable flexibility in your time plan. Do not plan for a hundred percent of your time. Leave out a margin to accommodate any interruptions that may occur in the course of your plan. Schedule for routine tasks whenever you expect to be interrupted as this will require lesser concentration which you can afford even during the interruption.


Understand your biological prime time and plan your most important tasks to fit this time frame. If you work best during the mornings, use this time for the most important tasks. Undertaking difficult tasks during your slump hours will cost you a lot in terms of energy and input applied.


First, go for effectiveness and then efficiency when undertaking tasks. Decide on what is right to do at a particular time first before you take the time to figure out the right way to do it. When you are already on with a task you will be making progress as you develop the best way to handle it.


Work towards eliminating the most important tasks in your to-do list. Most of the urgent tasks will have lesser consequences than long term tasks whose output is obviously larger. Fixing earlier deadlines for your tasks will help you prevent once timely tasks from running into urgency.


Avoid overloading your to-do list with tasks that you could have otherwise said no to, delegated to someone else, or completely eliminated. Focusing on your goal will help you shed off everything else that does not work towards your goal of the time.


Avoid time wastage practices such as paying too much attention to details and procrastination. Handle each task with reasonable attention due to it. If you feel like you should push a task forward, break it down into smaller tasks, and handle each at a time. Lastly, celebrate the little successes of proper personal time management such as achieved goals.

How to Achieve Your Goals Even if You Think You are a Born Loser?

Some individuals believe that they are born losers but it is just a state of mind,

“no-one is born to lose”

if you believe you are going to lose then you are less likely to succeed in accomplishing your business and personal goals.

There are a number of tried and tested strategies that you can undertake to overcome this state of mind.

  1. Self Evaluation

Self evaluation is the first step in trying to identify your strength and weaknesses no different to abusiness evaluating its strengths and weaknesses.

Write down the factors that you believe are your strengths and weaknesses, it would also be helpful to talk to friends and family about this, as sometimes you cant see the “wood for the trees”. It is very likely, if you think you are a “born loser”, that you will have more items in your weakness list compared to the ones in your strengths list.

Once you have identified your strengths and weaknesses, the next stage is to understand why you have that weakness – common weaknesses are procrastination and lack of focus – check out my article on procrastination for the various reasons for procrastinating.

Once you understand your weaknesses it is possible to gradually overcome them. Overcoming your weaknesses cannot be done overnight, tackle one to three weaknesses at a time.

  1. Overcoming Your Weaknesses

Overcoming and changing your weaknesses is no different to achieving your goals, you need an action plan which is specific, with a timescale.

Tackle the easiest ones to tackle first and this way you will be motivated to tackle the more difficult ones.

  1. Learning from Winners

Have you ever noticed that individuals associate with like minded individuals?

  • Positive thinkers will associate with other positive thinkers
  • Students of similar attitudes associate with each other
  • Businessmen/women belong to small business clubs
  • Depending on your situation associate with like-minded people e.g. if you think that you will always be fat join a group such as Weight Watchers.

Associating with successful individuals/groups will assist you in identifying and adopting their habits, such as perseverance, critical thinking, stability under pressure, competence and the aspiration to never give up

  1. Success Breeds Success

Start achieving your goals and you will find that your attitudes will change
giving you the motivation to tackle larger weaknesses. Review your previous accomplishments and successesl.

Occasionally you will experience failure, but it should be a learning experience. Failure should always be an opportunity for you to do better the next time.

Building Blocks of Effective Time Management

“A healthy body leads to a healthy mind”

Sleep, diet and exercise are the basic building blocks of effective time management, they are all relatively important but possibly out of the three sleep is the most important, not only to be effective at time management but for our social and psychological well-being as well, It is important that an individual should get enough sleep so that they do not feel tired during the day. The amount of sleep an individual requires is very much an individual thing and it will change as an individual ages. What is just as important is to get into a pattern – there is nothing the body likes more than a schedule – go to bed at 11 wake at 7am etc.

The following are indicative of lack of sleep

  1. Can’t concentrate on a task for more than 5 minutes
  2. Spend time taking short naps or even worse dozing off at our work desks
  3. Desire/need to take caffeine regularly during the day to stay concentrated
  4. Fall asleep watching the TV in the evening
  5. Afternoon drop of in performance
  6. Are you the sort of person that has problems sleeping. Here are some tips

Tips to improve your sleep patterns:

Don’t eat anything 3 hours before going to sleep. Your body needs to rest when it’s sleeping. It won’t rest if it’s busy digesting your food.

Refrain from taking any stimulants three hours before you go to bed – caffeine or tobacco

Stick to a sleeping schedule – be consistent. Don’t sleep Midnight – 7am one day and then 2 am – 7am the next day. The body has a system clock which if you have a regular sleeping pattern, it will make your sleep much more effective.

Don’t exercise before you sleep. Exercising makes you stay awake. You’ll make your heart beat faster and raise your body temperature – which makes you stay awake.

Eating/Diet and Exercise

There are plenty of books and articles on the subject of diet and exercise on the internet. The only reason that they are being mentioned in this article is that they are a constituent part of the basic building blocks for an effective time management system. However as with sleep implement a routine – eat and exercise regularly and consistently.

Incorporate these building blocks into your daily routine and you will have the energy to effectively implement new time management strategies to make more effective use of your time and improve productivity, incorporate them into your daily “to-do list”.

Procrastination – Who Me?

Procrastination is one of the biggest “wasters of time” which is basically putting off till tommorrow which can be done today –

NEVER HEARD THE SAYING TOMORROW NEVER COMES

Remember time is a fixed commodity and it is your habits that have to change to make more effective use of the available time. Procrastination is a bad trait which can take hold of your life and have a negative effect on your career, business opportunities and relationships..

There are many reasons for Procrastinating :-

  • Lack of clearly defined goals which can result in you putting off the more important tasks till later and completing the easier or the tasks you like doing first – some people like writing articles, others doing research
  • Inability to make a decision even after weighing up the pros and cons – would Microsoft be so successful if they procrastinated. This is just as valid in a personal situation
  • Fear of failure or success are psychological reasons for procrastinating
  • Waiting for the right time or till you are in the right mood
  • Lack of organization
  • Underestimating the time and difficulty to complete tasks
  • Lack of clearly defined goals which you feel you have not had a say in formulating
  • Strategic goal not broken down into bite-sized tasks

I am sure to have you heard the expression – ” I only work well under pressure”

This is usually brought about when a task is delayed until the individual has no option but to complete the task. At that point, the task is in charge of you, instead of you being in charge of the task.


At some time in our lives, we will all procrastinate, that is not too much of a problem it is when it dominates our lives there are problems. However, if you recognize that you have some of the common symptoms of procrastination you can take action to take them under control and take control of effective use of your time.

5 Time-management Tactics That Will Help You Enjoy More Of Summer

Time is our most precious resource. And whether you’re a high-powered executive or just starting your career as an intern, it doesn’t discriminate: We all have 24 hours in a day. But when the temperatures get warmer and the AC is blasting in the office, those 24 hours all of a sudden seem even shorter. Even as a dedicated professional, you might find yourself longingly looking at the clock while trying to power through your tasks as fast as possible so you can head outside and take advantage of summer.

The good thing is that depending on how you manage your resources, you can manipulate time and get the most of your working hours — and enjoy life outside of work to the fullest as well. We’ve rounded up some of the most impactful time-management tactics below to help you do just that.

But before you dive in and enthusiastically adopt a new workflow, it’s important to embrace a couple of important mindset shifts. First, you need to switch your thinking from time spent to results achieved. The most effective time-management tactics are about improving efficiencies and maximizing the impact of every minute spent — not all tasks and activities are even and every working hour is precious. Keeping results in the forefront of your mind will help you get the most of any productivity method.

Second, you must be willing to be real with yourself when it comes to the way you currently spend your time.

Are you stuck in a spiral of overcommitment because you’re afraid of saying no?

Do you tend to procrastinate or are you a multitasking addict?

Assessing the present with honesty and humility is the first step towards building a schedule that allows for more freedom.

So, as long as you regularly check in with yourself and your productivity levels and are willing to focus on working smart instead of hard, you’ll love the 5 time-management methods below (especially when the weather is gorgeous).

The Pomodoro technique


The Pomodoro Technique has been around since the late ‘80s and adopted by millions of people since then, so it’s a pretty credible and popular productivity tool.

Here’s how it works: Choose a task you’d like to tackle. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task without interruptions — no peeking at other browser tabs, answering Slack messages or scrolling through Instagram until the timer rings. When you hear the sound of the timer, take a short break. Whether you go for a quick stroll or grab a coffee, stepping away from the task keeps you refreshed and focused. After four “pomodoros” (the method was named after the tomato-shaped timer its inventor used), you can take a 20- to 30-minute break. You’ll be pleasantly surprised about how much you can accomplish in interruption-free, 25-minute bursts.

The Pareto principle (or 80/20 rule)


The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80 percent of results tend to be caused by 20 percent of efforts. Think of your most important project and its most crucial deliverables and outcomes. Are you spending most of your time on activities that move the needle towards the successful completion of that project? Or do you regularly get caught up in things like attending meetings with nebulous agendas or answering emails?

This principle also applies to your career development. You want most of your efforts to go towards what matters the most in terms of getting you where you want to be professional. For example, if you dream of landing a leadership role but barely get to hone your project-management skills because you’re too busy catching up on small tasks you’ve picked up for other people, you might be investing in the wrong areas. If you want to get the most out of life, make a habit of thinking of the 80/20 rule when choosing where to direct your energy — whether short-term or long-term.

Time-blocking


Time-blocking is about dividing your calendar into blocks allocated to specific sets of activities. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, you can fight off that feeling of overwhelm by planning in advance how you want to split up your various activities throughout the week.

For example, you might want to dedicate half a day to strategic, creative work during a moment of the week when you know there will be fewer distractions and you’ll be refreshed energy-wise. You could also choose to have regular times blocked off for admin-related tasks or meetings with your team. But in order for this method to work, you need to be strict about your commitment to yourself and avoid doing things like booking last-minute meetings during your time blocks.

Keystone habits


Sometimes getting the most out of your time involves adding more to your schedule. Have you heard of keystone habits? The term was first coined by author Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit. Keystone habits are activities that have a positive ripple effect on all areas of your life: exercise, good sleep hygiene, a healthy diet, meditation, etc.

While it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re too busy to sleep more or squeeze regular workouts into your routine, it’s important to remember that creating space in your life for these keystone habits will help you feel more energized, focused and productive and get a lot more done in less time.

Regular task audits


You might love to-do lists. But not-dos are equally important.

Are there things on your plate that you would best be delegated?

Are there outdated tasks that might be completely ditched?

Do your goals and priorities need to be revised based on changing circumstances?

The most productive people in the world know that time-management efforts require continuous awareness as well as adaptability and flexibility. It’s a fast-paced world, and whatever was important and relevant a few weeks ago might actually not be anymore.

Regularly auditing your schedule and taking note of your top-of-mind concerns and whether they are still aligned with the current state of events will go a long way in keeping you effective and stress-free.

Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The beloved classic has sold more than 40 million copies in 50 plus languages and has spurred profoundly increased levels of personal and organizational effectiveness for readers worldwide. It’s transformed the lives of heads of state, presidents, CEOs, educators, students, parents, and millions of people of all ages and occupations who have accessed its principles, paradigms, and processes in their effort to achieve extraordinary results. With timely and inspiring content needed now more than ever ,The 7 Habits continues to guide and propel generations of readers through change in these uncertain times.

Touted as “one of the bestselling books of all time,” by Fortune, the book was named the “#1 most influential book of the 20 th century” by Chief Executive magazine, and Forbes named it “one of the top 10 most influential management books ever.” Millions have not only read the book, but have been trained in FranklinCovey’s 7 Habits work sessions. The book, commonly used as a reference guide in management and leadership development by people holding every title, in every industry and occupation, has become a hallmark of effective leaders, extraordinary results and winning cultures.

In advising readers to apply the 7 Habits content in their lives, Stephen Covey wrote, “.Start applying what you are learning. Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know..”

THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE:

Habit 1: Be Proactive.

People are responsible for their own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or conditions. They are able to develop and use their four unique human gifts-self-awareness, conscience, imagination and independent will-and take an inside-out approach to creating change. They choose not to be victims, to be reactive or to blame others.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.

Highly effective people shape their own future by creating a mental vision and purpose for their life, their day, and for any project, large or small. They don’t just live day to day but are driven by their mission and purpose.

Habit 3: Put First Things First.

Highly effective people live and make decisions with a clear sense of what is most important. They organize and execute around their most important priorities. They are driven primarily by purpose, not by the agendas and forces surrounding them. They put people ahead of schedules.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win.

Highly effective people think in terms of mutual benefit. It’s not about you, or me; it’s about both of us. They are able to balance “courage” for what they want, with “consideration” for what the other person wants. They think interdependently-“we,” not “me”-and develop win-win agreements. They don’t think selfishly (win-lose) or like a martyr (lose-win).

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

Highly effective people diagnose before they prescribe. They listen before they talk. They seek first to listen with the intent to understand the thoughts and feelings of others, then seek to effectively communicate their own thoughts and feelings. Through understanding, highly effective people build deep relationships of trust. They understand that the key to influence is to first be influenced.

Habit 6: Synergize.

Highly effective people value differences instead of being threatened by them. They believe that their own strengths combined with the gifts and talents of others can lead to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. They seek for 3 rd alternatives solutions to that are better than what they or the other party had in mind to begin with. They don’t go for compromise (1 + 1 = 1½) or merely cooperation (1 + 1 = 2) but seek out creative cooperation (1 + 1 = 3 or more).

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.

Highly effective people increase their effectiveness by renewing themselves regularly in the four areas of life: body (physical), mind (mental), heart (social/emotional), and spirit (spiritual-service, meaning, and contribution). They are never too busy sawing to take time to sharpen their saw.

About Stephen Covey

Recognized as one of TIME magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen Covey was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant and author. His books have sold more than 40 million copies in 50 plus languages and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. After receiving an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University, he became the cofounder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey Co., a global performance improvement company. Stephen Covey passed away on July 16, 2012. His legacy to the world is Principle-Centered Leadership and his many contributions will live on through the principles he loved, taught and espoused.