Resources & Best Practices Tips, Skills & Resources

Master Productivity in 5 Steps

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Sofía Maradiaga

As you are anxiously working to nail that assignment due at 3 p.m., you can’t help but look at your watch. It’s already half-past noon and you’re nowhere near done. And that job application you were supposed to send yesterday… it’s still unsent. Looking at the clock mercilessly ticking on, you begin to feel that oh-so-common, well-known dread that you’ll not make it in the short time that’s left. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, some of us more than others.

Such scenarios are more often than not a result of poor time management and the bevy of things we have to handle in our day-to-day agenda, which is why using your time smartly is a skill that will not only help you during university, but also when you enter the multi-tasking-addicted corporate world. So if you feel like you’re perpetually out of time, don’t despair. Like everything else, using your time properly is a skill you can easily learn and master with the help of a few tricks.

PLAN AHEAD

The first step to effortless time management is having a “sketch” or plan of what your day should be like. This plan should include the meetings and tasks you have for that day, their respective schedule, people involved (if any), and the priority you assign for each one. By just taking 10 minutes to map out your day will make a real difference in your performance since it will allow you to visualize your assignments easily, adapt yourself with greater ease to any unexpected situations, prevents you from forgetting anything, and at the same time it lets you stop worrying about missing anything that needs doing. Having such a plan readily available immediately turns your day’s regular craziness into something manageable that you can actually commit yourself to accomplish step-by-step.

KEEP TRACK OF THINGS

But in order to craft the perfect plan you must first carefully gather the things you’re going to fill it with. For this you must make a habit of noting down your pending tasks and duties on a daily basis, preferably as they arise. This ensures that you do not forget anything you must do, whether it’s old or new. Therefore, making to-do lists is a very handy tool since, again, they stand as visible reminders that help unclutter your mind by letting you stop thinking about what you need to do next. Additionally, by categorizing your lists by project, assignment, or class, you can track your endeavors easily by breaking them down into smaller parts.

PRIORITIZE

How many times have we gone to send a Tweet or two, and then when we least expect it, end up reading half our feed? Procrastinating! When we don’t prioritize accordingly, we end up working on things that aren’t important or necessary, leaving us with lots of crucial things undone and the stress that goes with it. Once you’ve noted down all your to-dos, it’s important to set realistic due dates and priorities so you avoid being overwhelmed by work. More importantly, it’s vital to refrain from doing things that makes you lose time.

MAKE TECHNOLOGY YOUR PERSONAL ASSISTANT

Now you have all your pending work jotted down clearly and prioritized, it’s time to take things one step further to becoming a more organized you. Did you know you have a personal assistant at your beck and call with you all day long? No? Look at your smart phone and tablet! You only need to start using the mass of organizational tools open us. From calendars, to alarms and lists, there are tons of free apps for Android and iOS you can quickly download and put to use, such as Evernote. With these you can program your meetings, work cooperatively on projects, set reminders for your assignments and tests, and even keep your to-do lists and itinerary with you at all times. Make sure not to miss out on the endless possibilities these can offer.

SAY “NO” WHEN NECESSARY

Already armed with a daily plan, prioritized task-lists, and reminders; you now need to focus on your time and energy, not only efficiently, but also productively, and choose your work wisely. Frequently, as we advance in our careers, interesting opportunities crop up that enable us to apply our acquired knowledge, and even develop new skills and contacts. However, some of those opportunities are better than others. With less significant ones, you must learn to say “no” when necessary, so you can focus your energy and resources on the ones that truly make a difference on your resume.

About the Author

Sofía Maradiaga

Sofía Maradiaga

Sofía Maradiaga is a book-loving, Honduras-based Marketer that is always onto something. From freelancing to volunteering, she's done everything that has offered the possibility to learn new skills, something she's always eager to do. A love for science and art made Marketing and International Business her career of choice. Curious about foreign cultures, she has incorporated internationality into her lifestyle, making language-learning and travelling her personal passions.