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TIME MANAGEMENT FOR PRODUCTIVITY:
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE

It’s no secret that time management is the MOST important skill to increased productivity and efficiency.

Time management ensures you are spending time where it matters most.

But, since we all get the same 24 hours, why is it that certain people achieve so much more with their time than others?

TIME MANAGEMENT.

“Time management shouldn’t take your time, but rather make EXTRA time for you.”

In fact, it’s a culmination of 5 different skills one must master: you need to learn time assessment, goal setting, prioritization, planning, and analytical skills if you want to be more productive in the 24 hours we ALL receive each day.

Essential point? If you want LESS stress, MORE free time, a happier life, and to do MORE, time management is a must.

And in this guide, I’m going to show you the importance of time management and everything you need to manage your time most efficiently.

Let’s dive in.

CHAPTER 1:
TIME MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTALS

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar

First, let’s define time management.

According to the dictionary, the time management definition is the analysis of how working hours are spent and the prioritization of tasks to maximize personal efficiency in the workplace.

I’d venture to add that time management extends to more than just the work place and it plays a crucial role our personal lives as well.

First things first, if you don’t understand WHY time management is important to you… the following tips, techniques, tricks, and hacks aren’t going to help you. If you lack the motivation to use them, you won’t.

Think about it.

If you manage your time well and achieve your goals, would you feel good about yourself? Of course, you would, and you’ll live a happy life as a result.

On the flip side, if you can’t manage your time, you’ll have a constant feeling of frustration, underachievement, and overwhelm.

Time Management is LIFE management.

Time management is important regardless of who and where you are in life.

Time management holds no biases.

time management effects everyone

Struggles with time management are no stranger to anyone through all walks of life: employees, time management for students, top level CEO’s, small business owners, or whether you’re an entrepreneur or solopreneur.

Just a few benefits you stand to gain from proper time management. Research suggests that when we do overcome the struggle of managing our time efficiently we experience:

  • LESS stress
  • MORE free time
  • GREATER satisfaction with work
  • Grades IMPROVE
  • BETTER professional reputation
  • LESS required effort (yes, you read that correctly)
 
the time management quadrant
 

Time management starts with intention. Having a clear plan and purpose about what needs to get done, which is then proceeded with a sense of focus.

Time management starts with intention then proceeded with a sense of focus.Click To Tweet

One must create a sustained focus through a sustained effort, albeit a gentle effort and out of that effort comes flow. With flow comes efficiency, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose.

You might be wondering:

That’s great and all, but how do I experience those benefits and get more done in the same amount of time?

That’s what I’m going to cover in the rest of this guide.

Keep reading…

CHAPTER 2:
HOW TO PLAN YOUR DAY TO WIN

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

Before we dive into full blown time management training, as said in the previous chapter, it’s important to understand our Intentions. Our intentions WHY we want to manage our time better and our intentions on a micro (daily), mezzo (weekly/monthly/yearly), and macro level (5/10/15 year)

INTENTION.

YOUR STARTING POINT TO TIME MANAGEMENT.

Intentions are the starting point for the planning phase. We’re not merely talking only about your intentions for why you want to manage your time, but also the intentions you set forward every morning or evening when you plan your day, the next day, the next year… which is what we’re going to dive into.

Everything that happens during your day, during your life, begins with intention, a directed impulse of consciousness that has the seed form of that which you aim to create.

Much like real seeds, intentions cannot sprout if you hold on to them.

time management intention

Within the context of time management, our intention suggests not only that you have a plan or a goal that you aim to achieve and why you must do so.

With that, here’s how to identify your intention.

DETERMINE WHAT TO FOCUS ON

First off, let’s use the Pareto’s Principle to weed out a plethora of tasks to get rid of.

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a theory saying that 80 percent of the output from a given situation or system is determined by 20 percent of the input.

PARETO PRINC TIME MANAGEMENT

Do a deep dive in figuring out what 20 percent in your current work or life is resulting in the 80 percent of desired outcomes.

Then break it down even further …

Whether you’re waking up and thinking about your work day or your personal life, take a moment to figure out what your immediate focus is.

Extraordinary results are decided by how narrow you can make your focus.

Extraordinary results are decided by how narrow you can make your focus.Click To Tweet

As Gary Keller and Jay Papasan put it in their New York Times best-selling book the ONE thing, “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Figure out your ONE thing.

Find the lead domino, and work away at it until it falls.

What counts is not the amount of time that you put in. Rather, the amount of time that you spend working on important and result generating activities.

PRIORITIZE

You’ve narrowed down the 20% of actions you take that are resulting in 80% of your desired outcomes so now what?

What’s left still must be weighed and measured.

Just keep bearing in mind, your ability to plan and organize your work and personal life in advance will help fuel your success and happiness.

Brian Tracy’s trademark technique of the ABCDE method used by many high performing individuals (purposely or by their design) is what I’ve found to be the best method for identifying and labeling priorities on your focused down list.

As laid out by Brian Tracy’s ABCDE Method for Setting Priorities:

A” stands for “very important.”

B” stands for “important.”

C” stands for “nice to do.”

D” stands for “delegate.”

E” stands for “eliminate, whenever possible.”

 PRIORITIZE ABCDE TIME MANAGEMENT

Again, you want to apply these on a micro/mezzo/messo level.

On a micro or daily level, you would start with your first task (task A) and work your way down the list. Task A would also be your “ONE Thing.”

It is the one task that if completed it, you would be satisfied.

Having an “A” task was a big game changer for myself because I used to end the day always wondering if I did “enough.”

Task A usually ends up being the most arduous task that many of us tend to put off or procrastinate on. It’s the one task that can generate the most results. It also can propel and motivate continued work like a snowball effect.

In his book “Eat That Frog,” Brian Tracy addresses how the hardest part of any important task is to start, which eventually results in more productivity. Unmotivated - Eat that frog and get more things done

Eisenhower Box

Another favorite time management technique to help prioritize your tasks and define what is important and what isn’t is Stephen Covey’s quadrant system also called the Eisenhower box, named after President Dwight Eisenhower.

This should give you a chance to drill down your task list even further after you’ve narrowed it down utilizing the Pareto Principle earlier.

On the Y-Axis you have important and nonimportant, and on the X-Axis you have urgent and not urgent.

Most people tend to focus their efforts on what is urgent and sometimes neglect the tasks that make an impact.

First, look at your task list that you generated and plug each one of them into the Eisenhower box and be truthful as you do so.

Pick your top 3 tasks and focus on completing them before you do anything else.

Urgent and important will usually be something that is time sensitive or has a due date such as a project deadline or your taxes are due.

CHAPTER 3:
THE BEST STRATEGIES AND SKILLS FOR TIME MANAGEMENT

“Repetition is the mother of skill.” – Tony Robbins

You’ve built a solid foundation thus far if you’ve gone through the steps outlined above.

Without a goal or a plan on how to tackle it, you would simply be shooting in the dark and seeing what sticks.

You’ve put together enough data to address the two methods that we will be diving in this chapter. Depending on what works for you and your business, you can use one or the other and preferably both strategies (eventually)

We’re talking about lists and time blocking/scheduling. 

If you’re not already the most super organized person, I’d encourage you to start small with creating daily lists and schedules to build the habit. Once the ball is rolling, and you’ve got the hang of it along with seeing the value it brings… begin to create bigger lists and schedules that span into weekly, then monthly, then quarterly, semiannually…

You get the picture.

Once you’ve created bigger and more comprehensive lists and schedules, you’ll have more clarity on what shorter term tasks are most important or need to be completed. You can then reverse engineer your longer-term intentions and goals to manageable bite size chunks.

Here are some things you should have thought of based on the previous chapter.

  • What are your daily priorities?
  • What are your weekly goals?
  • What do you need to do this week or day to grow your business?

LISTS

Lists sound basic, but that’s because they are.

If I’ve learned one thing, the more simple and straightforward, you can make something the more likely you are to implement it.

For simplicity, the below is about a daily (micro) list.

To get started, I would recommend you take out a piece of paper and pen, open Evernote or your favorite note taking software, or your favorite task management software/app like OmniFocus and do a brain dump of everything you have floating in your head.

Write down EVERYTHING. Work and Personal.

time management brain dump

Any and everything you can possibly think of that you need to do… this is the ULTIMATE BRAIN DUMP.

The list you create will be the overall list you will be creating your daily and weekly list from based on priority/due date.

You need to review these lists at the beginning or end of each day (or the end of the week) and see what you have and haven’t completed.

Personally, I make a list before I start working every morning of about 4-6 items and then I prioritize that list based on what is most important or must be completed. Remember the ABCDE method above? An example usually equates to something as follows:

  1. MOST IMPORTANT TASK *MUST COMPLETE*
  2. IMPORTANT – Work on only if task A is completed.
  3. IMPORTANT – Work on only if task A is completed.
  4. IMPORTANT – Work on only if task A is completed.
  5. NICE TO DO – If the above is completed and I have the energy or the time to compete.
  6. NICE TO DO – If the above is completed and I have the energy or the time to compete.

Anything that doesn’t get done that day gets moved to the next day, and I start all over with the prioritization.

Tip * Using check boxes for each task can be a great motivator and provide positive reinforcement. Everyone loves accomplishing things and checking things off your list releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for generating feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, and happiness.

Caution * Sometimes we can get caught up in doing any task to check it off the list. Stick to completing your tasks by priority of importance.

SCHEDULE

Taking it a step further, a schedule is where you can break down your list and assign an actual time block for it.

For simplicity, we will refer to this on a (micro) daily level.

Here is an example of what one of my regular mornings may look like:

5 AM: Meditation / Exercise / Breakfast / Read
6:30 AM: Write daily email
7 AM: Make list & Prioritize in order of importance (Scheduling would go here)
7:30 AM: Your “A” Task
8:30 AM: Emails
9:00 AM: Complete “A” Task or move on to “B” Task
10:00 AM: Complete previous task or move on to the next task
11:00 AM: Return AM Phone Messages/Emails
12:00 AM: Lunch Break

time management shedule calendar

Time blocking or scheduling is an example of being even more ruthless with your day. You’ve stated a start time/block that you are plotting yourself to work on and hopefully complete a particular task.

Peter Bregman, author of the best-selling time management book 18 Minutes, believes that what gets scheduled gets done. He says that making a list isn’t enough. You need to put those items on your calendar.

I typically do these in 30-60 minutes blocks.

Again, this is just for example purposes. You would want to not only schedule in your work tasks but your personal tasks or events as well.

Again, this is just a daily (micro) example. Eventually, you would apply this to your duties and goals on a (mezzo) weekly/monthly, and (messo) yearly+ basis which can give you an overview of what is coming up and where your focus should be directed.

Tip * Scheduling is easier said than done. It’s almost inevitable that unplanned events or distractions will threaten to derail you. 

While you should make every effort to minimize distractions, there are some instances you just cannot get away from, so while it is “unplanned,” you can and should prepare for these moments by building in time for them. I usually allow 10-15 minutes at the end of every hour as a built-in break period or an opening to take care of these instances that may require my attention.

*BONUS – Download a free 168-Hour time management PDF broken down in 30 minute time blocks.

If you’re not currently using either lists or a schedule yet, I would highly suggest starting with creating and using the list method. Once you have a firm grasp on creating and prioritizing your lists, start implementing scheduling.

CHAPTER 4:
10 QUICK ACTION TIPS TO GETTING MORE DONE TODAY

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” ~Francine Jay

Sometimes less is more. And when it comes to your time, you need to do LESS to have time for what matters most.

Here’s a quick list of action tips that you can start implementing immediately to save that limited resource we refer to as time.

First things first…

 Tip # 1: Track your time – Do you know your biggest time wasters? Is it browsing Facebook? Watching Netflix? Playing XBOX? Track how much time you spend on each activity, and you just might find some red flags. There are resources below in the tools and apps chapter to help you with this.

'The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” - Michael PorterClick To Tweet

Tip # 2: Single-tasking – The word in and of itself holds the meaning. Focus on a single task at any given period.

According to researchers, multitasking makes you a whopping 40% less productive, decreases the quality of your work, stresses you out, damages your brain, temporarily lowers your IQ to that of an eight-year-old child, and in some cases, it just may kill you. Feel free to read more about it here. – The Hidden Truth About Multitasking.


Tip # 3: Fight the “urgency” – Avoid putting out the little fires such as answering every email soon as they come in. Urgent actions often have little impact on the big picture. Know when to ignore or delegate tasks that don’t serve the big picture and create results.

* Remember the 80/20 rule.


Tip # 4: Eat your frog – As Mark Twain put it, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Do the most dreaded item on your to do list first thing in the morning. (or afternoon depending on your schedule) As Brian Tracy so cleverly titled his book that was referenced earlier. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

Doing the hard thing first helps with procrastination by propelling you forward and creating momentum. 


Tip # 5: Touch things only once – Touching things twice is a huge time waster. As soon as something grabs hold of your attention, you should take care of it immediately, delegate it, outsource it, or delete it.

How many times do you open an email only to say you’ll respond to It later?


Tip # 6: The Five-Minute Rule – I’m not referring to dropped food. If you come across something and it will take you less than 5 minutes.

JUST DO IT.


Tip # 7: Avoid perfectionism – Just get it done! Stop sweating the small insignificant details and avoiding or prolonging something because to you it “isn’t perfect yet.” The reality is, you’re wasting valuable time on the big things that do need your attention.


Tip # 8: Identify your prime time – Your “prime time” is your most productive time. For many, that time tends to be first thing in the morning, though many creatives tend to find the opposite.

Find the best time that works for you, and schedule your most important tasks during those times.Click To Tweet

Find the best time that works for you, and schedule your most important tasks during those times. You will almost inevitably complete the task faster and more efficient than if you did it at any other time.


Tip # 9: Set a time limit – Parkinson’s Law states: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

If you leave a task open ended or give it longer than it needs then guess what? You’ll likely take your sweet time in getting it done.

Example: You had 12 weeks to write an essay in school, I’m almost sure you started it at week 11… Am I right?


Tip # 10: Batch similar tasks – An excellent way to save a lot of time is by grouping similar tasks together. Batching helps you avoid context switching.

Some examples:

  • Batching all your emails or phone calls in a certain hour
  • Batching all your focus intensive tasks for one hour and mindless (less intensive) tasks another hour

CHAPTER 5:
HOW TO SETUP YOUR DAY TO CRUSH IT

“Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink 

While there may be similarities in lots of successful individuals’ daily rituals, the fact is… they usually have a morning and evening routine that helps them manage their time, energy, and productivity.  

WIN THE MORNING WIN THE DAY

Many successful individuals know the big secret to an incredible day, and that secret is a morning routine. The morning routine sets the tone for your day.

Setting up a routine ensures that you maintain a level of productivity for longer periods of time, thus accomplishing more in less time.

Regardless of what happened yesterday or what’s on the agenda for today, the morning routine is about you. It’s the time that you give towards yourself, every day, no matter what.

If you always leave it to fate to dictate what happens once you roll out of bed, you’re already starting your day putting out all the little fires that come your way. On the other hand, when you choose to get up early and take care of yourself, you’ll be grabbing hold of life and taking control instead of letting life control you.

I don’t know many individuals who CHOOSE to consistently wake up before 6 AM and isn’t doing something interesting with their lives.

I don’t know many individuals who CHOOSE to wake up before 6 AM and not doing something interestingClick To Tweet

Granted, everyone’s lives and responsibilities differ, but I would recommend you complete your morning routine before you tackle the rest of the daily challenges that lay before you.

How to get started? Your morning routine or morning ritual is a combination of habits that you will perform. The trick is to start small and add to it as you become more efficient / feel ready. Below are ten ideas to pick from that you can easily start incorporating tomorrow morning. 

Remember, start small and add things as they become effortless. If you’re like me and always an employ an all or nothing mentality, you may end up spinning your wheels for a while before you settle into your groove.

  • Drink a big glass of water
  • Meditate for 5-10 minutes
  • Read for 15 – 30 minutes
  • Make your bed * great short read on it here
  • Exercise for 15 – 30 minutes
  • Wake up at 5 AM
  • Take a COLD shower
  • Keep a gratitude journal or write three things you are grateful for
  • Write a journal entry
  • Have a nutritious breakfast

An example of my morning routine:

  • Wake up, big glass of water
  • Start Meditation
  • Feed Dogs
  • 30-minute workout to get the heart rate up.
  • Walk dogs
  • Get cleaned up
  • Gratitude journal
  • Write morning newsletter
  • Nutritious breakfast/shake
  • Read / Educate ~ 15-30 minutes

WIN TOMORROW TODAY

Almost equally as important as crafting a morning routine, your evening routine will help setup your morning for success.

Being disciplined with an evening routine will contribute to maintaining a lasting morning routine.

A successful morning starts the night before.

A successful morning starts the night before.Click To Tweet

The last thing you want to do is skimp out on your morning routine because you’re too busy completing tasks from the previous day. You want your morning to be as frictionless as possible, and that starts with what you do before you go to bed.

First things first, you’re not likely to maintain your morning routine if you’re waking up tired every day. Decide how much sleep you need and figure out what time you need to be in bed. Create a wind-down ritual 30 minutes to an hour before this time to help disengage from the day.

Tip * I’d recommend a 30 minute to 1-hour window before shut eye no use of electronics. By electronics, I’m referring to phones, tablets, or TV time as the blue light emitted by the screens can negatively affect sleep quality. IF YOU MUST use your computer or hand-held device, I’d recommend using apps such as FLUX or night shift if you’re an iPhone user.

Just like your morning routine, your evening routine needs to be customized, based on your unique situation.

Here are ten items that I believe to be semi universal that can be implemented before you hit the snooze button.

  • Crafting your morning routine – Yes, write down what you will do the following morning
  • List of what needs to be carried out the next day – Work and Personal Tasks
  • Laying out your clothes for the next day
  • Make sure all your devices are plugged into their chargers
  • An empty sink – Wash those dishes!
  • Have your keys at the door, in their spot, or in your purse – thank goodness for TILE, but it’s best just to have them ready.
  • Having a clean workspace
  • Fill up a glass of water to be ready for you the next morning
  • Pickup or put back anything “out of place” sofa pillows, kids toys, kitchen utensils from dinner
  • Set your morning alarm

Again, an example of my nightly routine checklist:

  • Devices off
  • Clean any dishes
  • Arrange things back where they should be (sofa pillows, anything brought in during the day)
  • Take dogs on a short walk / Prep doggy bags for the morning
  • Plug in any devices I will need the next day (headphones, laptop, phone)
  • Place keys, fitness watch, headphones, iPad (I typically watch online courses while walking/biking next morning)
  • Make sure doors are locked
  • End of day 5-minute journal
  • Hygiene
  • Stretch
  • Bed time!

CHAPTER 6:
10 BOOKS THAT HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS AND HABITS

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

Leaders are readers.

There are a plethora of books on time management. I encourage you to read them to not only serve as a reminder of the importance of time management but hopefully open you to different methods that may better suit you or shift your mental state to act.

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

READING TO THE MIND IS WHAT EXERCISE IS TO THE BODY

Book #1 Getting Things Done (GTD)

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
– David Allen

Arguably the most famous and influential productivity systems ever created. In the latest edition, David Allen lays out a framework for managing work-life balance in the 21st century providing effective, practical advice that is timeless. As technology changes, the principles and skills within the book stay relevant.


Book #2 The Organized Mind

“As the old saying goes, a man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.”
-Daniel J. Levitin

With how easily accessible everything is today we’re drowning in information overload. With the limited mental capital that we have each day, we’re required to make not only quick decisions but significantly a greater amount. Through research into the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory, Daniel Levitin shows you how to navigate the churning flood of information in the twenty-first century.


Book #3 Brain Chains

“DON’T TRY TO COMMUNICATE BY E-MAIL: APPLY THE RULE OF THREE Apply the rule of three: as soon as three emails are exchanged on a subject, and it’s still not settled or whenever there is the slightest suspicion that it will take more than three e-mails to get an agreement, pick up the phone, go and meet, or have a conference call.”
– Theo Compernolle

The most important tool that we’ll ever have… is our brain. You heard the saying that we only use 10% of our brain. The sad truth is that most of us sabotage our brains performance. Theo Compernolle studied over 600 publications and surveyed 1200 professionals to understand our brains strengths and weaknesses so that we may achieve the greatest results possible.


Book #4 Eat That Frog

“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.”
– Brian Tracy

The key premise is that if we ate a live frog first thing in the morning, everything else would be easy in comparison. A great reminder to concentrate on the most important task that will create the most impact instead of getting bogged down by the smaller, unimportant ones.


Book #5 The Power of Full Engagement

“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
– Jim Loehr

A different take on managing time and productivity. Loehr goes on to explain how energy is the new currency. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but our energy level is a significant variable that we can perfect to improve our productivity during those times. If you are looking for a different take on improving your productivity with paradigm shifts ranging from the physical to the spiritual, then grab a copy.


Book #6 The Power of Habit

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
– Charles Duhigg

The book presents a framework for understanding how habits work and serves as a guide to show how to replace bad habits with good ones.


Book #7 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Start with the end in mind.”
– Stephen R. Covey

7 Habits of Highly Effective People explains the 7 Habits that can make a person more effective both personally and professionally. Covey gives practical advice that shows one how to build the healthy relationships that are key to an effective life.


Book #8 The 4 Hour Work Week

“But you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.”
– Timothy Ferriss

Ferriss writes about the secrets of the “New Rich,” a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the “deferred-life plan” aka retirement and instead mastered the new currencies which are time and mobility. Time and mobility allow the new rich to create luxury life styles in the present. In the book, the author teaches you how to create “mini-retirements,” how to outsource your life to a virtual assistant, and how to train your boss to value performance over presence.


Book #9 Scrum

“The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time – “Multitasking Makes You Stupid. Doing more than one thing at a time makes you slower and worse at both tasks. Don’t do it. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re wrong—it does.”
– Jeff Sutherland

Now a How-To book in the least. Scrum delves into the concepts that are highly adaptable to not just software, business, but everyday life. A great read for managers and CEOs. Some interesting topics include: The origins of Scrum, Team principles, Waste management


Book #10 The Checklist Manifesto

“the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.”
– Atul Gawande

An acclaimed surgeon and writer, Atul Gawande takes the simplest of time management techniques, the checklist, and makes the argument that lists help us be more productive and efficient with complex tasks, by focusing us on what needs to be done and is often overlooked. The book argues that our modern world is too complex and most everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.


BOOK #11 *BONUS (and one of my personal favorites) The One Thing

CHAPTER 7:
THE BEST TOOLS AND APPS TO HACK TIME MANAGEMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools and yesterday’s concepts. – Marshall McLuhan 

Rather than letting modern technology drown and overwhelm us. We must use it to help manage our time, tasks, and ideas to create the space necessary for productivity and time management.

Note, these are all tools and apps I use, along with great alternatives that I’ve recommended to friends and family.

* shows that it is my personal favorite / what I currently use and what I recommend.

TIME TRACKING RESOURCES

To get a better grasp on time, I highly recommend thinking about it like food. Multiple studies over the years have confirmed that keeping a food journal over the course of multiple weeks and months is one of the most efficient ways to lose weight.

First, the simple awareness of what you are eating can come as a surprise to many. Secondly, there is an accountability factor that comes with writing everything that you put in your mouth.

We’re going to take the same principles and apply it to our time… you do want better time management, don’t you?

ANALOG

PLAIN OL’ NOTEBOOK

DIGITAL

Rescue Time

Offered both in a free and paid version

The program runs in the background to show which websites and what applications you spend the most time on and sends you detailed reports. You can also set goals for the day such as spend less time on Facebook, and it will assign you a productivity score to show you how you did.

Toggl 

Offered both in a free and paid version

Originally developed for freelancers, teams, and agencies. Plenty of other niches from fitness to productivity have caught wind to the robust tagging and categorizing features. You can track your hours with a single click and learn where you spend your time.

Freedom

Offered both in a free and paid version

Maybe you already know you’re easily distracted and where your time is going and just want to eliminate those distractions… after all, sometimes our willpower is weak despite knowing where we waste our time. Freedom helps solve the distractions by blocking distracting websites and apps across all your devices.

POMODORO APPS AND RESOURCES

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management technique where you use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks, usually 25 minutes, separated by a 5-minute break. Personally, I do about 45 on and 15 off, but do whatever works for you.

The benefits of the Pomodoro Technique come from the frequent breaks, which keeps the mind fresh.

The 25-minute focused time block (or whatever time you decide is best for you) forces you to adhere to fixed time limits (remember Parkinson’s Law?), so you’ll be encouraged to complete a task more quickly or spread a larger task out over some Pomodoros.    

Be Focused

Offered both in a free and paid version | Mac only

Primarily for apple users. If you upgrade to the pro version you can sync your timers across all your devices (iPad/iPhone), You can also setup custom intervals along with a daily Pomodoro interval completion goal.

Focus Booster

Offered both in a free and paid version | Mac and PC

Have the ability to change themes and also see reports.

Analog

Atentif Hourglass Clock Timer 
If you are looking for something a little fancier and on the aesthetic side…
this might fit the bill. Comes in both 25 and a 5-minute size.

The Miracle Cube
Set a timer for 5, 15, 30, or 60 minutes by just flipping the cube (like a big dice) to the desired period.

LIST, PROJECT MANAGEMENT, AND SCHEDULING/CALENDAR RESOURCES

DIGITAL

OmniFocus App Store | OmniFocus Web Version

Offered in Free and Paid versions | Mac/iPad/Iphone/Apple Watch only

What I use for my productivity and project management. A bit on the pricey side, but it is the most robust software/app I have seen. The learning curve can be a bit steep, but once you refine and nail your workflow, it’s like project and time management on steroids.

I track everything in OmniFocus from my morning and evening rituals to personal tasks and work projects.

Great way to use the GTD Method and syncs across all devices.

Trello

Offered in Free and Paid versions | Works across all platforms

If you are looking for something a bit more visual… then Trello is for you. Picture a board with a bunch of sticky notes to organize thoughts… Trello is just the digital version of that. literally.

Todist App Store | Todoist Web Version 

Offered in Free and Paid versions | Works across all platforms

Like OmniFocus in that it lets you organize your tasks and projects. If you’re a PC or Android user, I’d highly recommend Todoist. They also offer a neat feature called Karma that lets you visualize your productivity almost like gamifying it.

Wunderlist Apple Store | Wunderlist Web Version

Offered in Free and Paid versions | Works across all platforms

Probably one of the most basic of basic apps if you’re only looking to create a list. You also have the capability of setting up reminders and sharing your lists with family, friends, or coworkers.

ANALOG

Productivity Planner 
Great planner which allows you to lay out your weekly and daily priorities along with a weekly review. Each day is broken down into the method listed in chapter two allowing you to list your biggest task for the day along with tasks of secondary importance and would be nice to get to if everything else is completed tasks. 

The Freedom Journal 
Accomplish your goal in 100 days. The Freedom Journal helps you achieve your biggest goal in 100 days. The Freedom Journal breaks down the goal into 10-day sprints and tracks your progress along the way. Each day is broken down into writing down your goal (a reminder), something you’re grateful for, and the tasks or steps you will take that day to push you closer to your goal.

The Mastery Journal 
The Mastery Journal is almost like a companion journal to the Freedom Journal. However, the primary purpose of this journal is to increase focus and productivity in 100 days. The primary difference between the Mastery Journal and the Freedom Journal is the focus on measuring your productivity on a daily basis along with 10-day check-ins much like the Freedom Journal.

Good Ol’ Fashioned Notebook

CALENDAR

If you are looking for something a little bit more than Google Calendar or iCal

Fantastical * 

Mac and iOS only

Easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and packed with powerful features. One of the most notable features is the natural language detection. For example, dinner with mom at 6:30 PM this Wednesday and boom! Instantly in your calendar. Fantastical is on the pricey side ($49.99), but if you live and die by your calendar, it’s a small investment.

Analog 

Personally, I like the year calendar from Best Self Co. It allows you to see the entire year at a glance. Great way to reverse engineer bigger goals and also cross off days to create streaks to keep you going. 

MISC.

BOSE QC35 *

One of the best ways to jumpstart focus or deep work is by blocking out audible distractions with a high-quality set of noise-cancelling headphones. Not hearing the gossip between the individuals next to you at the coffee shop or your kids running around the house does wonders for focus. If you’re interested in better focus… which I am sure you are (otherwise why would you be here!) these will do wonders.

*Tip: Focus/brain music such as brain.fm can help get you in the zone even faster. I personally will either have brain.fm playing or productivity playlists via Evan Carmichael on YouTube which has current/pop music minus the lyrics.

Research suggests that specific types of music will help with work productivity.

CHAPTER 8:
THEY LAUGHED AT THESE ADVANCED TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS… UNTIL THEY SAW THEIR RESULTS

“Accessibility to information never been so advanced and easy in entire human history as it is now and we have no excuse for ignorance.” – Baris Gencel

Here’s a quick list of advanced and often overlooked aspects of time management and productivity tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

HEALTH

As quoted by Jim Loehr from the Power of Full Engagement.

“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”

– Jim Loehr

We all have the same 24 hours each day, and I would beg to argue that our energy levels play a HUGE role, if not the most important, in how much we get done daily. How much more do you do when you FEEL great and are BURSTING with energy?

We all have things in our lives that we can improve upon to increase our energy almost immediately, some of them being:

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Managing stress levels

Just think about that when you decide to binge-eat or stay up late doing a Netflix marathon 😉

MEDITATION

I know what you’re thinking. How will sitting in silence going to help me to manage my time and become more productive?

That’s because…

Stressful minds aren’t productive ones.

Stressful minds aren’t productive ones.Click To Tweet

One of my all-time favorite quotes

“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” – Blaise Pascal

Meditation is a simple, effective method that can help you to improve your productivity.  

If you are completely relaxed and stress-free, then your mind will also work more efficiently. It’s like Brian Tracy puts it, “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.”

Meditation services as you are prepping and planning your mind… your brain… to take on the rigors of daily life.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Regular practice of meditation will increase concentration power which leads to an increase in productivity. To put it so eloquently, you’ll be able to do more work in the same amount of time.

A great place to get started is the Headspace App | Headspace Website (and what I use each morning)

GRATITUDE AND MINDFULNESS

According to the Harvard Medical School editorial “In Praise of Gratitude,” gratitude is “strongly and consistently” associated with greater happiness.

Being mindful helps us find our gratitude. Our work environment and overbooked days consume us, and as a result pushes out gratitude out of our daily picture. We’re always too distracted; we are all no longer present in the world and environment in which we live.

But don’t take it from me…

Research at UC Berkeley (GO BEARS!) shows that a gratitude journal improves sleep and decreases illness. IE more energy and less downtime! MORE TIME to get stuff done. 

A Yale study says a gratitude journal results in higher alertness, enthusiasm, and energy.

You might be skeptical, but try it for yourself. The worst that can happen is your productivity and time management remain the same, but you’ve found joy and happiness in things you never thought of to be grateful for.

I’d highly recommend the 5 Minute Journal and what I use morning and evening.

Having gratitude sounds like a solution where everyone benefits.

REWARD YOURSELF

Set a reward for what you’re going to get (or allow yourself) when it’s finished.

Whether it’s a small task, a project, or a milestone… set a reward to help motivate you.

Examples:

  • Small Reward: Do you blog? Are you a writer? Love coffee? Reward yourself with a sip of coffee after every paragraph. *small wins count*
  • Medium Reward: Did you complete a project at work? For your business? Have a nice dinner or glass (or some of you… a bottle) of wine or whiskey.
  • Large Reward: Major milestone carried out? Major promotion? Take a mini vacation.

Before embarking on a major task try appointing a reward for what you’ll get or allow yourself once complete.

HIRE A MENTOR AND CREATE A MASTERMIND GROUP

Everyone needs a coach or a mentor. I almost guarantee that anyone you can think of who you would envision of having achieved great success has a coach and mentor and belongs to a mastermind group.

Without a coach or a mentor to guide you through the pitfalls and shiny objects you will likely encounter, chances are you’ll lose your focus along your journey.

Having a great coach or mentor keeps you accountable; they’ll keep you on track and lend advice to new ideas you conjure up.

Having a great coach or mentor keeps you accountable; keeping you on track so you don't waste time.Click To Tweet

Regarding a mastermind group, the great Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This means that who you choose to surround yourself and spend time with influences who you will become.

Take a step back and look at your core group and see if this holds any truth.

In his book “Think and Grow Rich,” Hill described the Mastermind principle as, “The coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people who work towards a definite purpose in a spirit of harmony…no two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind”, also known as, the Mastermind.

One of the richest men of all time ($300+ BILLION), Andrew Carnegie, attributes his entire success and fortune to his mastermind group. Talks with Andrew Carnegie laid the foundation for the mastermind concept that Hill developed.

While I would highly advocate having both, if you cannot afford a coach or a mentor (I would argue how can you NOT afford one), a mastermind is a great substitution.

You’ll have many minds who can help guide you, hold you accountable, and help transform thoughts into tangible actions.

GO ON VACATION

That’s right, take a break.

Working non-stop is just not in 99% of our cards… unless your Gary Vaynerchuck. Our bodies work better when we take breaks, whether in the short term (Pomodoro intervals) medium term (a day) or long term (vacation or sabbatical)

Americans typically don’t take all their vacation days, much less go off on sabbaticals. An extended period away from work may sound like an exotic concept to most, but so is every idea that isn’t highly adopted by the masses.    

Plus, sometimes it’s great motivation priming yourself to work harder and more efficiently knowing that a vacation or sabbatical is just around the corner.

If you force yourself to keep working despite being burned out, you risk becoming less productive, less creative, and more prone to mistakes.

And those aren’t even the worst drawbacks.

AVOID THE BUSY TRAP

It’s almost the default response when you ask someone how they are, “Oh, busy.”

Avoid the being busy for the sake of being busy trap; It’s an easy trap to fall into

Avoid the being busy for the sake of being busy trap; It’s an easy trap to fall intoClick To Tweet

“Busyness can be laziness.” – Tim Ferriss

What’s eating your time up can be self-created busyness. Either low priority work or activities to further your procrastination.

Refer to the 80/20 rule and prioritize by evaluating your task list often (weekly recommended)

And lastly…

TAKE ACTION.

Start slow, implement one or two things you took away at a time until it becomes a habit, and then add another.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. — Zig Ziglar

“Knowledge is power, but knowledge without action is worse than having not known.” – Me

 

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NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

I hope you enjoyed my time management and productivity guide. What did you think of it?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.