Should you focus on time management or productivity?

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4 tips to help you get the most out of both

The way people sometimes look at time management and productivity, you might think that you must sacrifice one for the other in order to get anything done. I don't think that's true and if you're operating that way in your day-to-day life maybe it's time to review. I thought I'd share these four simple tips to help you get out of your own way when it comes to managing your time and getting the most done in the hours you have available. Let's get started:

Tip #1: Plan your day

Nothing earth shattering there. By taking the time to plan your day the night before (or at the very latest first thing the morning of), you will have identified the high value things you need to get done today. You may have several tasks that either you don't like or enjoying doing that is still crucial to your success. By planning to those tasks you'll get to "eat that frog" in a way that gives you the biggest bang for your buck, without getting incredibly stressed out about the whole situation. Planning your day is all about setting your priorities, so take the time this evening to plan your activities for tomorrow. Don't be caught in the morning where you don't know where or what you want or need to do this morning. Take time at the beginning and end of your day to plan what happens next. Being proactive with your planning will pay you back in spades.

Tip #2: Expect interruptions

You need to be realistic in your day planning and recognize that interruptions will happen. It's probably best to expect them and to have a plan on how to manage this particular aspect of your day. We can take a pointer from corporate middle managers in this example. Studies show that interruptions account for 2 - 2.5 hours a day for these business professionals. Do you expect your experience to be much different?

Tip #3: Schedule it

As part of your planning process, you should make the time to schedule this in your calendar. The saying "what gets scheduled gets done" is one of those sayings that make a lot of sense. Are you getting the most out of your calendar right now? Think of it this way: If it's not important enough to be scheduled, do you really need to do it? (See tip #1 above.)

What gets scheduled gets done

Tip #4: Break it up

Taking short breaks throughout the day helps clear the mind and allow you to come back to your tasks refreshed and focused. It helps your motivation when you use those short breaks to do things like stop for lunch, take a walk, listen to music, spend some time meditating, stretching and deep breathing. When you take a little downtime you'll come back more powerful than when you left. Try it for yourself today.

So here are the 4 simple tips that will help you get the most from your time management at the same time you increase your productivity. You don't have to slay a dragon or invest in expensive, complicated software/books, etc. to start making these adjustments part of your day. We started with a small number of tips to make sure you're not overwhelmed, so the question is, do you have a favourite time management or productivity tip you'd like to share? Share it in the comments. I'm always looking for ways to beat the time management crunch!