The fifth and arguably the most important part of SMART target setting is time management. Managing your time effectively can create a positive cycle, where you start to accomplish more in a shorter period, helping you to focus your time productively.
Although not a new idea, the beauty of a to-do list lies in its simplicity, providing a structured plan to work from, which can prove incredibly rewarding. It’s said that you can increase efficiency by 25% the day you start using this time-management technique, meaning this little change can lead to two extra hours of productive time in an eight-hour day.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. Creating an effective to-do list requires prioritising the tasks that contribute to the majority of your gains. This is especially useful if you’re a visual learner, as you’re more likely to remember your tasks if they’re written down and visualised. It also allows you to respond to new tasks well; having already prioritised your time, you can see where you can make room for the time-sensitive project your line manager has asked you to complete by the end of the day.
Making a list of the easiest tasks and shirking the hard ones is pointless. Instead, the most successful strategy is to ‘Eat that Frog’. The ‘frog’, here, is the largest task on your to-do list; to ‘eat the frog’ is to start with the big project (that you may or may not have been putting off because it’s unappealing) knowing that once you’ve done it, your other tasks won’t be quite so difficult.
Do you ever find the five minutes you took to glance at Facebook have turned into half an hour, or that the endless stream of social media notifications is preventing you from concentrating? FocusMe Scheduler can help to prevent these distractions taking valuable time out of your day. The app allows you to block websites and applications at times when you are most likely to be distracted, meaning you’ll start the day productively rather than reading up on celebrity gossip.
Our brains and bodies are impressive machines, but that doesn’t mean we should overuse them. Studies show that your brain’s effectiveness significantly decreases after 45 minutes. This means we can get more done by taking periodic short breaks. Giving our eyes and mind a break from the computer screen can allow us to come back to the job with renewed energy and a sense of purpose. A good way to implement this is through tools like Focus Booster, which uses the Pomodoro Technique and breaks your tasks down into 25-minute sessions, each followed by a five-minute break. After four sessions, you take a longer 15- to 20-minute break. This has been proven to help you to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures.
Remember The Milk
There are an increasing number of applications that can help you organise and utilise your time in a more effective and productive way. Remember the Milk is just one example. It provides a great way of recording and managing your to-do lists. The app sends you reminders via SMS, email and IM, so that you don’t forget even the most mundane of tasks; other tools such as MyLifeOrganized, Trello and ToDoist can also provide effective ways of keeping on top of a heavy workload.
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