Today is the final episode in a 3-part series, covering 3 simple strategies that you can apply to all of your work – every day, every week, and every month – to improve your time management, and be more productive without burning out.
I call these strategies the 3 P’s,.
They are –
If you haven’t listened to those episodes yet, I encourage you to pause, go back to listen to them first, then join us back here.
This week, we’re moving onto the third and final step, which is Produce.
Now that you’ve set yourself up for success, it’s time to execute on your plans and produce results.
You have a calendar with your daily tasks as well as time blocks scheduled. Go through and take care of each task, using buffer and catch-up time as you need it.
One note on buffer time: it should be used as a last resort.
Don’t waste this time just because you have it marked off on your calendar. There will be occasions when you really need it. If you don’t need it, use the time effectively to get more work done or recoup your energy.
Now, we all know about best laid plans. No matter how well you plan out your day, various things may trip you up or distract you from your priorities.
And then you get frustrated because your day isn’t going according to plan, and now you’re behind on a project and it’s going to take you longer to complete, and possibly have a knock-on effect on other projects, and now you’re spiraling just a little bit. Rather than beating yourself about it – there is another way.
Expect things to go wrong. And then plan how you’ll deal with it if they do.
This may go against your nature – especially if you’re an eternal optimist.
Being an optimist often gets me in trouble because I severely underestimate how long a task will take, or I’ll fail to create a ‘plan b’ because I am so sure that ‘plan a’ will work out. Then I end up trying to play catch up.
So this is something that I am continuously working on.
Here are some ways to help make sure you’re working through your tasks efficiently, while also being prepared for distractions or things going wrong:
1. Watch the Clock
Keep an eye on the time so that you don’t run over your time blocks. The best way to do this is using a timer. An ordinary kitchen timer will do, or the timer on your phone.
Set it so that you can focus on your task, and the alarm will let you know when it’s time to move on.
2. Take The “Is This Necessary?” Test
Before starting each task, ask yourself whether it’s truly necessary. Is it something that will help you get toward a specific goal? Is it something you can delegate to someone else, or even automate?
Try to eliminate tasks before you start them, especially if it’s something you hadn’t already planned on doing and which has come up unexpectedly.
3. See It Through
If you decide to work on a task for one hour, stick to that one hour. Don’t stop in the middle or start doing something else.
You considered priorities thoroughly when you made your schedule, so see it through.
If you feel that a task is wasting time or doesn’t need the block allotted, make the necessary adjustment for next time.
4. Prevent Distractions
Arrange your work environment so that there are no distractions. Turn off phone notifications and stay off social media.
Let others know you’re busy if you don’t want to be distracted. If something comes up or you’re interrupted, tell the person you’ll handle it later.
5. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Sometimes, when you’re focusing on getting things done, perfectionism can hold you back.
Try to turn off that voice in the back of your head and remember that you can always go back later and tweak or edit.
There’s always something that can be improved, so aim for ‘good enough’ rather than perfect.
6. Make Use of Waiting Time
If there’s a delay in completing a task, try to use this time productively. For example, you’re waiting for an update on an app before you can do your work.
While it’s updating, see if you can make some headway on another task or part of the task. This isn’t multitasking per se, but just a way to be more efficient.
7. Look for Shortcuts
Always look for shortcuts you can use, like templates or automations.
Templates can save you hours of time, but they can also give you access to skilled professionals at a fraction of the cost.
One example is Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes. Ashlyn Writes is a boutique copywriting business for creatives. Working with Ashlyn and her teams starts at $950 for a 60-minute strategy call.
But – you can buy copywriting templates for anything from sales pages to email sequences, written by Ashlyn and used in her own business, over at her template shop – from $39.
Now, I could go on and on about templates and automations, but I am going to stop here for now.
And that’s a wrap…
And that wraps up our three-part series on Time Management Strategies using the 3 P’s—Prioritize, Plan, and Produce. Remember, these strategies are here to help you find balance and enhance your productivity while keeping burnout at bay. Life can throw surprises our way, but armed with these techniques and tools, you’re well-equipped to handle them.