Feb 22, 2009

Time Management Tips to Increase Your Personal Work Productivity

When there is so much competing for our attention, how do we keep up our work productivity? We've all had days when it seems like nothing gets accomplished, facing one interruption after another. As a creature of habit, I seem to work better when I have a system to follow.

The key to getting things accomplished is to maintain focus and build momentum on the important tasks. Here's a few things you can do to improve your time management skills.

Vary your Work Environment

These days, I do everything via a laptop computer that I can take with me. Sometimes I find that there are certain types of work for which my home office is just not conducive...such as a big research project, contemplating an important financial move, and such. These are typical things that many of us procrastinate on because it seems so cumbersome to do them.

However, I find when I change my surroundings, I can create an environment where I can actually get excited about that which I have been avoiding. This might be the local library or a coffee shop/internet cafe. The net effect is that I am creating a comfortable environment in which to put forth a focused block of time toward an important task...all contributing to a feeling of well-being.

Match Tasks with your Work Productivity Patterns

Do you find that you work most effectively if you stay focused on one task at a time? But what about those emails that need to be answered, websites you want to check out, that essential reading you need to do? I group these tasks into several categories which I handle in focused segments of time throughout the week.

For example, I handle emails in short blocks, 2 times/day. I return calls twice/day. I group my catch-up reading time and website reviews into the early evening, because this is the time when I let myself relax after a productive day. Being a morning person, this works for me; whereas, you may be a night person and setup a different routine.

Treat Important Blocks of Time as Appointments

I find it helpful to break my day into segments, being flexible around what is most pressing. Most people have no problem, typically, in blocking off a piece of the day for a meeting. Yet, if we know that we should take a block of time to design a new landing page, or write a series of articles, we often allow that time to get interrupted with phone calls, going off on internet tangents, constantly checking emails, etc. Instead, treat those segments like appointments...allowing nothing to get in the way.

Do your Most Important Project First

For me, creating forward momentum on our Internet business is the highest priority. So, the first 4 hours of my work day is when I devote to that purpose. It's like an ongoing appointment that I do not vary unless something pressing (pre-planned) trumps it. I shut off the phones and don't check emails. This allows me to get into the productive space such that one task flows efficiently into the next.

Then, at the end of this period, I have a feeling of accomplishment. I can then focus on the other tasks that need attention, or as is often the case, continue on my internet business-building tasks. Most importantly for me, it allows me to approach the rest of my day in a more relaxed fashion.

Try these approaches for yourself. You might just find that they increase your personal productivity.

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