It’s often easy when you get into your work session to lose yourself in your subject matter, especially if you are doing work that is meaningful or interesting to you. This can make your work more enjoyable, but it is also an easy way to decrease your productivity and make your work session counterproductive. You may be churning and burning, but are you making the most of your time?
So what time management techniques can you use to make your work sessions more productive? Sure, you’ve probably read that it’s important to reduce outside distractions, find a quiet place to work, and similar common sense steps to make the most of your work time. But what else can you do? Well, here are a few time management techniques you may not yet have considered that could help you push your productivity higher.
- Choose Productive Times to Work: You probably have times when you work better and more productively than others. This may be first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon or after everyone has gone to sleep. By knowing and utilizing these periods of energy and inspiration, you can work toward higher productivity.
- A Little Prep Time: Taking a couple of minutes to get yourself and your workspace organized before you being your work could end up saving you time. Making sure things are in order, you have what you need to work efficiently, and that you have a game plan, can keep you from having to backtrack or go searching for office and work supplies later.
- Structured Work Time: You may want to set a timeframe for your work session before you begin. Setting limits and going in with an idea of how long you plan to work can help keep you on track and increase productivity.
- Make Use of a Workspace: While a workspace doesn’t have to be a full-fledged office, having an area that is set aside just for work can help you stay organized and productive. This area may just be a desk area or table, but it is important that it contains the elements that are conducive to your work and being productive (i.e. a computer, printer, phone, fax, extra printer cartridges, notepads, pens, pencils, erasers, paper, or similar items).
- Time Yourself: Keeping a watchful eye on the clock can be a great way to increase your productivity and keep yourself from losing track of time. Timing yourself can also be a good way to track how long you work as well as determine periods in which you are most productive.
- Keep a Log: By keeping a log of times and hours worked and maybe even your correlating revenues, you could determine an hourly rate by which to gauge your productivity.
- Set Productivity Standards and Goals: Once you have a general idea of your average productivity, you may choose to begin setting standards and goals. This can become almost a game as you aim for increased productivity and beating previous records. If nothing else, it can give you an idea of whether you are making progress in your work and which work provides the best return on your time investment.
- Job Selection: While at times it can be hard for a freelancer to turn away work, sometimes it may be necessary. Some jobs just don’t provide the return on investment needed when it comes to your time commitment. You probably don’t want to make turning down work a habit, otherwise you risk offending clients or turning them on to other providers, but knowing your strengths and being selective about your jobs can often help increase your productivity.
- Lists: Daily, weekly, monthly or all of the above, when it comes to staying productive and on task, to-do lists may be the way to go. Not only can having lists keep you more productive by helping you to not forget certain tasks, but they can also help you prioritize your most important tasks.
- Consider Outsourcing: Depending on the size and success of your business, it might be worth considering outsourcing some of your work. Outsourcing can be a good way to increase your productivity if you can afford it, find reliable labor, and make it cost-effective.
The aforementioned tips may or may not work for you and your particular work style. People vary greatly when it comes to what makes them more productive. Probably the most important aspects of increasing your productivity are recognizing your personal strengths and weaknesses and focusing on the productivity enhancing techniques that work best for you.