You know those days when it seems impossible to get everything done on your huge to-do list? Or when you end up wasting more time worrying about the things you need to get done that you end up doing less than what you normally accomplish?
I know this feeling all too well.
We’ve all been there. We’ve sat and sulked for a length of time, stressing over the amount of stuff that needs to get done in front of us. Over the years, I’ve discovered some great time management strategies that allowed me to cope during those moments of panic.
Today, I’m going to talk about some of the techniques that helped me be successful at managing my time.
Apps that help you get things done
For small businesses, knowledge of the different tools you can use for time management is a must-have. That said, here are some apps to help you organize your time and get things done, starting today.
1. Focus Booster
Perhaps you’ve already heard of the Pomodoro technique.
If not, the main idea is to give yourself a length of time to strictly devote to working, and then allow yourself a quick break once you’ve completed your work time.
Focus Booster is a time management app that focuses on this technique. When you open the app, a timer will pop up on your computer. From the app settings, you can specify how much time you will work before you take a break.
I like to set my timer for 25 minutes, where I put in 25 minutes of solid, focused work. Then I take a quick break for five minutes, where I take some time checking my email, going on a quick walk, or grabbing a quick snack.
When the five minutes is up, it’s back to work for another 25. The app helps me stay focused when getting something done becomes a struggle for me. Because of it, I’ve trained myself to concentrate on the task at hand while the timer’s going. It’s a great way to end procrastination.
Ever wanted to gamify your life? Habitica is a tool to get things done in a fun way. When you sign up for an account, which is free, you create a character that looks very much like a player in a video game.
You then are taken to a screen with different categories: habits, dailies, and to-dos. For example, I can put “writing a blog post” in the to-dos section, and as soon as I finish the blog post, I can check it off the list.
What makes it fun is that the moment I check it off, I get experience points, game money, and possibly an item. As you continue checking off different goals you set, your character levels up and eventually gets to be in a class, such as a warrior, mage, or thief.
When I started using this app, I became addicted to getting things done because I wanted to level up the whole time. Another cool feature about it is that you can bring on a team and go on “quests” together, where, once you accomplish your goals, your progress goes towards completing the quest.
All in all, Habitica is a great app for people who love video games but want to push themselves to get stuff done in real life as well.
Are you familiar with ZipBooks yet? ZipBooks is free accounting software that comes with a time tracking app that lets you monitor your time effortlessly so you get paid for your work.
You can use the time tracker from within the app or via the ZipBooks Chrome extension. The time tracker is easy to use. If I want to time myself for any aspect of my work, I simply get right to it and start tracking time.
I can also add a new project, rate, and task directly from the timer.
RescueTime is the app for you if you want to keep track of the things you do on the internet throughout the day, and what activity you can improve on to be more effective with your time.
It gives you detailed reports that show which sites you visit the most and how much time you spend on each site. This app helped me cut some of my internet hours so I could spend time doing the things I wanted to do.
Other techniques to beat the clock
Ways to fight against the clock and manage your time more effectively abound. Below are a few strategies that helped me look at time management differently.
1. Parkinson’s Law
One interesting idea that I have been studying up on is Parkinson’s Law. It explains that if you give yourself too much time to complete a task, you condition your brain to believe that the task increases in complexity. Therefore, the time to complete the task expands according to the time you give yourself.
For example, if I give myself two weeks to complete a project that should only take me three days to finish, the project will naturally end up taking that long.
To avoid taking more time than you need, give yourself less time to complete a task and give your all to beat that time. If it usually takes me a week to fully compose a song on the piano, I would push to compose a song in four days instead.
If I get it done in four days pretty easily, chances are I can cut down my time even more. It is crucial to actually hit the time you set for yourself for this to work. Otherwise, you might have trouble believing it can be done.
2. Break down your weekly goals into daily goals
I was in an intensive work environment once where we had to set goals for each week. At the end of the week, we submit achievement reports to our leaders.
There was no telling when we actually would achieve our goals and when we wouldn’t. Everything seemed pretty random. After giving it much thought, I came to the conclusion that our biggest problem was that we didn’t break up our weekly goals into daily goals.
From then on, after setting weekly goals, I decided to set daily goals at the same time. I would set my daily goals higher at the beginning of the week, knowing that if something went wrong, we still would have a few days to catch up.
When I started doing this, we accomplished our goals almost every time. It allowed us to see, and therefore plan, what we needed to do each day to get everything done during that week.
There are myriad ways to get things done, and certain things work better for others. Try giving some of the above techniques and apps a try and see what works best for you.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you still have trouble managing your time. Take things one day at a time and you’ll eventually get better at them.
Which technique will you try today?