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5 Unique Time Management Hacks That Have Been Proven to Work

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Unique Time Management Hacks Proven Work

Modern reliance on technology by most companies today means that the same devices that we use for work are also where we get our distractions. Some say it’s not your fault if you often fall victim to technology — many of us have. But come on, you are in charge of yourself, even if the nature of the technology is a constant connection.

While it may seem like the only solution to manage your time is to spend it away from your devices (which does help, of course), that’s not always possible or even necessary.

Find the productivity you need with some of these hacks for time management that have been proven to work.

1. Stop Letting Tech Suck You In

The truth is that one reason technology distracts us so strongly is because it offers a comfortable, relatively predictable escape from our tasks. If you’re tired from being hard at work for a few hours, why not take a second to look at Instagram? One second can lead to an hour away from your responsibilities — and a lot of the time, it’s not because you’re distracted but rather because you want to relax. And as long as you’re fulfilling your responsibilities, don’t be afraid to enjoy what you enjoy on social.

Not letting tech suck you in can be done in many ways: cutting off work communications as soon as the day ends, working and relaxing in different rooms, etc. The most important thing is that after hours, you are giving yourself fully to your relaxation needs. When it’s time to return you’ll feel refreshed, alert, and much more able to focus because your needs have already been tended to.

2. Utilize Timers for Each Task

Realistically, the duration of any given task can vary in uniformity and length. But setting a timer creates a new psychological environment, one in which you are present for this amount of time and this amount only, regardless of how long it is. When the timer ends, you are free. Believe it or not, setting a timer requires focus, even if you aren’t sure about the length of time a task will take. However, your timer will help you focus and work faster and makes it easier to stay on task by providing this target of freedom.

Say you have a short story transcript to be edited by the end of the day. You don’t know how long it will take and are avoiding the task out of dread. Instead of scrambling at the last minute, set a timer for one hour, clear your mind of anything but the task (including the deadline), and begin. You’ll find the task to be a little easier when you know better how long it will take — and give a concentrated push to be finished.

3. Create an Environment for Focus

Alongside your timer, try to adapt your surroundings to the task at hand. Keep an open mind at this point because even the smallest change can make a difference for you. You can move a pen that you keep hitting with your arm or move all electronics out of your sight. Part of creating this environment can be put into action in advance as well, even just by outlining a plan for the day and setting the kinds of rules for yourself as mentioned in this article by Calendar.

To continue the previous example, let’s say you’re doing your transcript editing at home. To craft the ideal environment, you can turn off your electronics, dress comfortably, make a cup of tea, put on a sound generator in some sound-dampening headphones, and close everything on your computer but the transcript. Whatever makes you feel focused in your space will work best.

4. Steer Clear of Your Unique Distractions

Read up on distractions and take some notes about the ones that affect your time management. Here is a great list of distractions such as this one you can put far away from yourself. Your needs will likely be different from anyone else’s. Chances are, you have particular things that distract you uniquely more than others. It’s easy to forget these distractions are even there, or to get used to them in the space, without being freed from their influence. Take a moment to sit in your space and note everything that draws your attention in a distracting way.

These distractions can take the form of imagery to be changed, like a decoration on the wall, or a bright light shining through your window. Maybe you’ve found that your emotions are distracting you the most, in which case you can take a break to do some mindfulness exercises. You should do everything that you need to make this your space of focus, even if it seems strange or unconventional.

5. Experiment With Your Time Management System

Above all, managing your time is just that — managing your time for the sake of your own productivity. It’s easy to try different methods that many people use, but it can be difficult to stick with them because they aren’t tailored for you. You might find that what works best for you may even be the opposite of what you’ve heard (like letting yourself get distracted so you can come back with fuller focus). In the end, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it helps you achieve your time management goals.

Remember, the objective is not to implement time-saving methods, but rather, succinctly, to save time itself. Try not to get caught up in common methods that aren’t helping just because they might down the line. The concept of a method that will always help everyone is one of many time-saving myths. Just sit down, look around, and do what you need to do to manage your time.

5 Unique Time Management Hacks That Have Been Proven to Work was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Ono Kosuki; Pexels; Thank you!

6 Things That Can Jeopardize Your Morning Routine

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Morning Routine

We all have those days when things just won’t go our way. More often than not, they start with a hectic morning.

The morning is an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of your day. That’s why a morning routine is so important: When you make good use of the first few hours, you generate momentum that helps you be productive throughout the afternoon and evening. 

Of course, you can’t plan for everything. Disruptions happen, but they don’t have to throw your entire morning out of whack.

The key is proactivity. If you know what disruptions to expect, you can minimize them. If they do happen, you can mitigate their impact on the rest of your day. These are the top culprits:

1. Your Alarm Doesn’t Go Off

It happens to the best of us: No matter how sure we were about setting our alarm clock, it doesn’t go off.

Maybe you forgot to activate it. Perhaps you set a “p.m.” time instead of an “a.m.” It could have come unplugged from the wall.

The solution is to wake up at the same time every morning. Within a week or two, your body will start naturally waking up at that time.

If you truly need an alarm, get one with a battery backup. Look for a “set it and forget it” model that automatically chimes every morning at the same time.  

2. You Check Your Phone First Thing

These days, you need a smartphone. But that doesn’t mean you should be scrolling through it first thing after you wake up. With all the things to do online and in apps, you may find yourself deeply distracted.

Checking your phone first thing may keep you in bed too long. It can also get in the way of more productive morning habits, such as meditating or exercising.

Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Better yet, keep it out of the bedroom altogether. If you struggle to stay accountable to yourself, ask your spouse to remind you. 

3. Your Wi-Fi is Down

Although you shouldn’t stare at your phone first thing each day, there are reasons you might need to get online. You may want to check your online calendar in order to internalize what’s ahead of you. Or you may want to answer emails before you head to the office. 

If your Wi-Fi goes down regularly, there are two ways to get the information you need. You could get a back-up access method, such as a hotspot. You could also do some legwork upfront to keep your morning routine offline. Start by:

  • Saving your calendar offline.
  • Keeping a physical copy of your schedule.
  • Reading a newspaper instead of internet news.
  • Downloading exercise classes, relaxing music, or other streamable media.

4. Your Housemates Interrupt You

If you live with other people, there’s always a chance that they could disrupt your morning routine. Maybe your roommate steals the bathroom when you want to take a shower. Or maybe your kids are demanding attention while you are trying to make breakfast. 

The best way to prevent others from distracting you is to talk with them about your morning routine. Ask about theirs, too. If necessary, post everyone’s morning tasks and times in a public place, like on the fridge.  

Just because you’ve laid out a perfect routine for yourself doesn’t mean it works for everyone else. Be civil, set expectations, and remember that mistakes happen.

5. You’re Stuck on Yesterday.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could start every day with a fresh slate? That’s what mornings are meant for.

With that said, you might struggle to get something from the past out of your mind. Maybe some tragic news event is bothering you. Perhaps you received bad news about a loved one. A fight with a partner can bother you for days.

If you can resolve issues before going to bed, do so. If not, allow yourself time in the morning for introspection. You can meditate or write in a journal during this time. It’s important to get in tune with your emotions so that they don’t overwhelm you. 

6. You’re Missing Your Must-Haves.

You’ve finished most of your morning routine and you are about to leave the house — but you can’t find your keys. You search everywhere, but you can’t seem to find them. Plus, you’re now running late. 

In this scenario, “your keys” could represent anything that you need to leave the house, like your wallet or bus pass. Not being able to find them when you’re leaving can create stress that lasts the rest of the day. 

The key (pun intended) is to keep these items in the same place at all times. Make it a ritual that every time you return home, you put your keys in the same place. 

Disruptions tend to happen at the worst possible times. But a little preparation can go a long way toward preserving your morning routine. And the more consistent you can keep it, the more ingrained it will become. 

These 6 Things Can Ruin Your Productivity

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You know the importance of productivity, but something always seems to get in your way. You can’t seem to stop checking social media. Your dog needs to go to the bathroom. The rain outside is so loud you can’t hear your conference call.

Some of those things are out of your control. You can’t plan around every disruption, there’s a lot you can do to protect your productivity. Avoid these six missteps:

1. Multitasking

When you multitask, you train your brain to not focus on the task at hand. It’s nearly impossible to be productive if you can’t hunker down on one major assignment. Cut out multitasking, and work on just one thing at a time.

For example, if you have to write marketing copy for a new software launch, focus entirely on writing during scheduled hours. During your focus time, turn off notifications on your phone. Better yet, put it in another room entirely. If you need your phone to get work done, consider blocking applications that you don’t need to tackle the task at hand. 

2. Not Having a Plan 

If you don’t plan, then you plan to fail. If you start the week without a schedule, you’ll struggle to use it productively. And without daily planning, you’ll get sidetracked by last-minute requests, off-topic conversations, and deadlines associated with future tasks.

It only takes 45 minutes or less to schedule weekly tasks. Start by thinking through what you want to accomplish that week and plotting it out in order of priority. Limit yourself to three big goals per day.

For daily work, try time blocking. Split your day — your full day, not just your workday — into 15-minute chunks. Associate a specific task with each block. When it’s time to move on, do it. If you didn’t get the task done, add it to tomorrow’s time blocks.  

3. Not Taking Breaks

Did you know that taking a break can help you solve a difficult problem? When you focus too much on the task at hand, you don’t give your mind rest to think. Breaks increase creativity and decrease fatigue.

Remember to schedule breaks into your time blocks. Each hour, give yourself a 10-minute break. Every four hours, make it a 30-minute break.

Breaks are your time. As long as you’re doing something healthy with them, you’re doing the right thing. Easy, low-cost options include:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Take a nap.
  • Eat a snack.
  • Call a friend.
  • Read a book.
  • Catch up on the news.

4. Not Having a Nighttime Routine

What you do at night heavily impacts your productivity the next day. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel stressed, fuzzy-headed, and tired the next day.

Sleep deprivation is a nationwide issue. The CDC reports that a third of US adults get less than the seven hours of recommended sleep per night. If you want to get to bed on time and wake up refreshed the next day, you need to have a nighttime routine

Here’s how you can do it: 


  • Set a standard bed time.


Decide what time you want to go to sleep every day, and stick to that time. Your body will become accustomed to it and start to get sleepy at that hour every day. A notification or alarm on your phone can help remind you an hour or two in advance.


  • Relax for an hour before bed. 


Doing something relaxing before you sleep can help your body wind down. Consider taking a warm epsom salt bath, doing yoga, or reading a book. You can also meditate to soothing music before sleeping.


  • Avoid screen time.


Screens emit blue light that makes it more difficult to sleep. The light tells your brain it’s still daytime. Stop looking at screens at least an hour before you go to bed, and don’t keep your phone in the bedroom. If you use your phone as an alarm, get an alarm clock.

5. Not Customizing Your Calendar Availability

If people don’t know when you’re available to talk to them, they’ll pop in with questions or random comments at all times of day. Not only is that stressful, but it makes you less productive.

If  you don’t keep a close eye on your calendar availability, you risk double-booking yourself. You may accidentally schedule a business meeting on a personal day. 

To set your calendar availability the smart way:


  • Limit your professional availability to your company’s operating hours.


Leave your calendar availability open only during your work hours. This prevents you from planning a meeting during an unnecessary time. Block off others times for your own activities or personal appointments. 


  • Make some hours off-limits.


You can’t meet at every hour of the day. It’s important to keep some time slots clear for getting work done. Know when you tend to be at your most productive, and avoid scheduling meetings at those times. 


  • Think through the details.


Setting expectations is key. When you are available to meet, make sure you share the top-line details ahead of time. For each meeting, ask yourself:

  • What’s the topic to be discussed? 
  • Why can’t it be an email?
  • How long should the meeting last?
  • Who needs to be in the meeting?
  • If the meeting is virtual, what number should attendees call?


  • Sync your personal & professional calendars.


Family and self-care time are important. Make sure that people in your professional life can see when you’re carving out time for personal engagements. You don’t want to  have a meeting booked when you’re supposed to be at your daughter’s soccer game. 


  • Inform people about exceptions.


Life happens. If you need to make an exception to your typical schedule, inform others. Give people at least 48 hours notice, if at all possible. Do this by setting up an out of office message and by blocking off your schedule. 

6. Stressing About Your Schedule.

These productivity tips should make your life less stressful, not more. Take what you need and leave the rest.

If you really want to keep it simple, Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule is a great model. Yours might look something like this:

  • Getting ready for the day: shower, breakfast, personal development, and prepare for work (3 hours)
  • Morning work (4 hours)
  • Review of projects and lunch (2 hours)
  • Afternoon work (4 hours)
  • Dinner, rest, and wrapping up the day (4 hours)
  • Sleep (7 hours)

Need more tips to keep your productivity high? Check out these 25 daily calendar productivity tips to up the ante.

5 Top Distractions When You Work from Home (And How to Avoid Them!)

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Running your own business has a lot of great advantages. You can set your own hours, be your own boss, and work in a more relaxed atmosphere to name a few. In addition, working from home eliminates the stress of having to deal with overbearing, demanding, and demeaning bosses or coworkers. But there are drawbacks too. For example, you don’t get paid vacations, holidays, or sick time. When you don’t work there’s no one to back you up or work those hours for you. The work is still there when you get back. Those are not the only negative aspects. There are also tax implications to consider as well as effects on your family life. However, if you determine the positives outweigh the negatives, there are still distractions when you work from home.


1. Kids and Other Family Members

One of the top distractions when you work from home can be your kids or spouse. Even if all of your children are all in school full time there are still probably days when special circumstances keep them at home. The same can be true of a spouse that works outside the home. When the kids are running around, talking loudly, watching television, or fighting with each other it can be difficult to get any work done. A spouse may try to come and talk to you about critical issues or things that aren’t important at all.

2. Emails

Checking your email is likely an important part of your work. You probably have message you need to respond to in order to keep your business going. Nevertheless, it is easy to spend more time than you should reading and answering emails.

3. Cell Phone

Cell phones are another top distraction when you work from home. You may innocently pick up your cell phone to check on a message you received and get sucked into looking at social media posts. Or, you may be making the mistake of simply checking your phone too often. Losing productivity due to overuse of cell phones is a common problem.

4. Noise

A noisy environment is another of the top distractions when you work from home. Your kids or husband could be doing something that is so loud it interrupts your thoughts. Additionally, it could be noise from your own creation such as a loud dishwasher or music you have playing. No matter what the cause is, too much noise can make concentration almost impossible at times.

5. Other Household Duties

Some of the top distractions when you work from home can simply be other household duties that need to be performed. If you are not working in a dedicated office space you might be able to literally see the dishes overflowing in the sink or the laundry piled up that needs folded. It can be difficult to resist the urge to stop and complete these tasks when you are supposed to be working.

How to Avoid or Overcome Them:

1. Get Your Family Onboard

When your kids or spouse are at home while you are trying to work you need to get your family onboard. Talk with them about giving you the space and time you need to do your work. Let them know it is important for your career and to keep the bills paid. Remind them that it takes money to take vacations and enjoy all of the fun things they have and do. Set up a signal system that tells your family when it is ok to interrupt and when it isn’t. Make placards to hang on your closed office door. Green means it’s ok to disturb you, yellow means ask first, and red means not to come in right now.

2. Keep Your Focus

Staying focus and avoiding distractions when you work from home is not always easy. Checking your email, for instance, may be an integral part of your work. That being said, constantly checking it is counterproductive to you getting anything done. To avoid this habit, check it first thing in the morning and again at midmorning, lunch, midafternoon, and the end of the day only. If necessary, set a timer so you only spend 15 minutes responding to emails before moving back to your regular work.

3. Put Your Cell Phone Down

The habit of checking your cell phone is very much like that of checking your email. Simply set it aside in a designated spot and check it only right after checking your email. The rest of the time ignore it so you can concentrate on more important tasks.

4. Create a Dedicated Work Space

To keep noisy distractions at a minimum, set up a designated work space. If possible, in a separate room set up as a dedicated office. Having a permanent home for your computer, printer, filing system, and other necessary work supplies away from noise and interruptions will increase your productivity. If you don’t have a separate room available, establish a space that is devoted only to your work. Or, invest in noise cancelling headphones.

5. Set Your Schedule

To combat one of the other top distractions when you work from home set a work schedule that you rarely deviate from. This will allow you to work when you should be and complete other household duties at designated times as well. Do remember, however, to plan a few breaks in your day as well as a regular mealtime away from your work. This will help you stay focused when you are working and keep your energy levels at their highest. Obviously there are a lot of distractions when you work from home. Still, the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages and be resolved if you work on them.
Originally published here.
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