How To Hack Your Time Management To Increase Happiness and Productivity
Time is a precious resource that is so often wasted. But, we do not think people waste time intentionally.
It just seems that time management (along with other things) is never widely taught to us.
And while we are not entirely onboard with the saying: "time is money" (there are so many things we dislike about that saying). Time is opportunity.
So with that being said, time management is an incredible skill to acquire. But the question is: how?
In this post we are going to look at:
* What is time management?
* Time management tips.
* The areas in which to direct your focus.
* How to kick-start your time management.
What is time management?
Time management is being productive and purposeful with your time. It is getting the most out of your days. Time management is essential for growth as a person and your business. When you are intentional with your time you are more likely to ace your time management. So, let's look at the three questions you can ask yourself to acquire better time management...
1. Is this an effective use of my time? (This question helps you evaluate whether it is a task that you should even be doing in the first place. Hint: scrolling Facebook for hours on end may not be the best use of your time).
2. What is the 'why', the reason to do this? (This question helps you boost motivation. When you know your reason for doing something it makes it easier to focus).
3. What would this look like if this were easy? (This question helps you remove any resistance and to think freely, with no pressure or overwhelm).
Once you know whether a task is worth doing or not, it is time to look at how to be efficient with it. Let's look at our time management tips.
Time Management Tips
So you have your to-do list sitting in front of you, now what? How can you streamline your tasks and manage your time better? Here are five techniques to apply...
Batching tasks is something we have mentioned before over on Cone. But it is worth mentioning again as it is a great time management strategy. Batching is where you get a load of similar tasks done in one set period. The most common example is scheduling social media content, but it can be applied to all areas of your life. When you are writing out your to-do list think about the tasks in categories, how can you batch them together?
Not to be confused with multi-tasking time reuse is where you get multiple results from doing one thing.
Here are some examples:
When you cook dinner, make extra so that the time making that meal serves two meal times. Batch cooking is great for this. You can make big batches of chilli or soup and freeze a few portions for future use.
When you spend time creating content think how else can you use it more than once. For example, what blog posts can be turned into Instagram story snippets? What podcasts can be turned into Instagram captions? You get the idea. What areas of your life can you apply this thought process?
This example is going to sound odd at first but stay with us. Do you ever finish a delicious meal, and you are full but have time for a dessert or a tipple?
It is because you are switching things up. So in your day, think about how you can create a blend. Perhaps you can switch up your day by adding in some errands to break up your workday.
Rituals over routines. Routines imply boredom, but rituals seem a little more magic. When you create rituals, you prevent decision fatigue. Think about the things you can create a ritual for. For example, getting ready in the morning or preparing your evening routine for morning success.
Now, I know multitasking has got a lot of stick over the past year or so as it is not efficient to switch between tasks in such a way as your brain struggles to engage. However, there is a way to create a blend of tasks. For example:
Commuting and listening to a podcast.
Visualising and taking a shower.
If your task does not require your brain's focus, perhaps you can incorporate some extra elements.
Finally, start learning to time block. Time blocking is very similar to batching but has more of a habitual take.
You can do this on your calendar at first, but when you practice this technique, you will begin to be able to do it in your head. Time blocking is a way to organise tasks.
When you block out your time, think about the most efficient time to do those tasks. For example, to avoid emails from governing your day, allocate a time block to read and action emails.
Areas To Focus On
Now, this is a little like our ‘hot spots’ comment that we made in our organisation blog post. There are some areas of time that are hotspots, and by managing them in a time efficient way, you can set yourself up for success.
So what times of the day should you be looking to streamline and maximise your time management and efficiency?
Morning. Arguably the most crucial time. Where you set the tone of the day.
Night. Where you set your intentions for the following day.
The 3 pm slump. The time of day that seems to be full of low vibe energy. Think about how you can structure this time of day to keep up momentum and positively finish the day.
Take each period of your day and look at how you are currently managing that time. Ask yourself: what can you do to get the most out of the time you have?
Kick Start Your Time Management
Ok so now you are probably thinking: “What next? Where do I go from here?” so we wanted to give you some action points. Some direction as for how to apply our tips to your own life.
Step 1: Analyse Your Time. So, first of all, you are going to want to look at how you are spending your time right now. The best way to do this is to keep a time diary. You may be surprised as to where your time is going.
Step 2: Make a list of all the top 5 things that take up your time.
Step 3: Use batching, time reuse, switching it up, rituals, multi-tasking and time blocking to streamline these tasks.
The Square Exercise
The square exercise is a visual way to plan and see where your time is going. Essentially you have 24 squares (which represent an hour each), and you allocate certain things you want and need to do.
Your squares could look a little something like this:
8 squares sleep
1 square morning routine
7 square work
1 square lunch
1 square evening routine
1 square commuting to and from a destination
1/2 square tidying
1/2 square making food
1 square exercise
1 square self-care
1 square family time
1 square misc
Do not forget to add in things like commuting, or getting ready, but when you do allocate this time think about how you can get the maximum value from this time. Play relaxing music while you shower or a podcast while you get ready.
The idea behind the square technique is that you can visualise your time as opposed to something that is not tangible and slips away.
Weekly Planning and Intentions
So finally, we want to look at planning your week.
But how do you drill down to know what you need to do?
How do you prioritise and create flow?
For this, we like to use free flow writing. In your journal, ask yourself: "What do you want to get out of the week?". Depending on where you are in your journey will determine what you write but here are some examples:
Successful Launch. 20 more people signed up.
Exercise 2 times this week.
Have a business plan written.
I want to put in a study plan.
Have a marketing plan tied written.
Record 3 podcast episode.
Have a month's worth of content written.
The second question you need to as is: "What needs to happen to get you there?".
Start by writing “In order to (insert goal/intention) I need to….” and finish the sentence. The end of these sentences become your to-do list. Here are some examples to get you started, covering a diverse selection of tasks:
In order to exercise 2 times this week, I need to create a great workout playlist, and I need to allocate time as well as having my workout plan to hand.
In order to have my business plan completed, I need to work out my exact business model. How much money I want to make. How many clients I need to create that and where it is going to come from. I need to ensure I have the income streams in place to flow. I need to look at a business plan template, and I need to set 1-2 hours aside to complete it.
As you can see when you start writing out what you need, you can begin to visualise what you need to do, what areas you can batch, what areas you can reuse and what areas can be done via multitasking and you can then use the square method to batch out time.
To get the most out of your to-do list.
Colour code difficulty, you can do this digitally, or if you prefer physical to-do lists with highlighters, this should take around 1-2 minutes.
Give yourself two tick boxes, one for started and one for when the task is completed. Not only does this give a good overview it also helps you feel more on track and accomplished.
Note down how long a task should roughly take.
Make indications as to what tasks can be batched, reused, or time blocked.
This method may mean making the to-do list takes a little longer, but the execution of the to-do list will be more efficient.
Hopefully, this post has given you some inspiration and ideas to improve your time management. Remember to take it slow, in bite-sized chunks and create processes and rituals that work for you. Time management is something to practice, but once you master it, you will find yourself in a much happier and productive state of mind.
About the author
Chloe Slade is the Marketing Manager here at Cone and focuses on creating content that brings business and lifestyle together. Chloe is a keen makeup lover, foodie and loves to work from luxurious destinations.