We talk a lot about managing time in order to be more productive.
But the truth is, it’s not really about time management.
It’s all about managing your focus.
Today, we’re sharing some practical resources and techniques to help you manage your time better and ultimately, focus on what’s important.
how to focus on what’s important
First, you’ll want to take a closer look at how you actually spend your time.
When you do, you’ll be surprised at what you discover!
You’ll find the many ways you are wasting time (hello Instagram!) and where you’re spending too much time with little return (like on the endless admin that comes across your desk).
With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about what you need to delegate or outsource. You’ll also discover where you should focus more of your own time and energy to achieve your goals.
helpful tools to manage your focus
Managing your focus isn’t always the easiest thing to do. We are constantly distracted and constantly have inputs fighting for our attention.
But there are a number of techniques and tools that can help with this.
1. the pomodoro method
This is a productivity timer that emphasises timed intervals of work, broken up with regular breaks.
- You work in 25 minute intervals and focus on only one thing during that time.
- After each interval, you take a 5 minute break, then repeat the process.
- After completing 4 of such intervals, you’re able to take longer breaks of 15 to 30 minutes.
When using this technique, it is important to remember that you can only focus on one thing! So break your to do list down into small, manageable tasks and prioritise them accordingly.
For those 25 minutes, remove all distractions and work on the selected task.
Then, take a short break. Do not exceed 5 minutes! No cheating.
After 4 cycles of 25 minute work intervals and 5 minute breaks, you can take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes.
Then, restart your count and repeat the steps.
2. time blocking
As the name suggests, you block off a period of time to concentrate on only one specific task for a specific period of time.
One of the biggest advantages of time blocking is that it helps you prioritise your tasks and get through more of your to-do list by the end of the day.
Time blocking is my favourite way to manage my focus and work more efficiently.
At the start of each week, I think broadly about my goals for the week ahead.
Then, I do a brain dump of every task that needs to be completed throughout the week in order to hit those weekly goals.
But I also get realistic!
My goals are not my only focus for each week. And my schedule is also not entirely my own. So before assigning time blocks, I look at all my other commitments for the week ahead.
When are meetings scheduled? What personal obligations do I have? Have I allowed enough time for rest and self-care?
I block these time slots first so that I am able to determine what time I have available for focused work.
Finally, I go back to my to-do list and chunk tasks together based on how much time I have available on a specific day, and how much time each task will require.
I also try to chunk related tasks together. For example, I will work on my personal and business finances for one or two hours straight instead of jumping between a number of unrelated tasks. Or I will respond to all of my emails in one sitting, rather than replying throughout the day.
3. time management tools
There are also a number of tools you can use to track and manage your time. Ultimately they can help you and your team work more efficiently.
And a good number of them are absolutely free!
- Rescue-Time: This app sends weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. It has an automatic time-tracking feature and a distraction blocking tool helping you avoid being overwhelmed by too many tasks.
- Remember the Milk: It might be difficult to juggle your day-to-day tasks as an entrepreneur, together with all of life’s other demands, especially when working on different devices. This free tool will help you easily manage your tasks and set reminders. You can share tasks and lists with others, making it a great tool for teams as well.
- Focus Keeper: Based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, this app is designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures.
- Focus To-Do: This app combines the Pomodoro Technique with a task list. It includes folders, due dates, reminders, data charts and reports. This highly recommended tool is perfect to help you stay focused and put an end to procrastination and time wasting.
- Clockify: I’ve been using this app religiously for the past 4 months and have my team use it too. It tracks exactly how much time I actually spend on various tasks and projects. I share more of my experience here.
- MyLifeOrganized (MLO): This task management software is for you if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, work with your to-do lists, and organise your goals. It automatically generates to-do lists with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.
- Pocket: The internet is a blessing. But wow, what a distraction! You can easily wander down a rabbit hole just by clicking a link to a website. What you find may be interesting, but often it isn’t immediately important. This is where Pocket comes in handy. You can use this tool to save your ‘finds’ and read later at a more convenient time, preventing you from getting distracted.
- Focus@Will: According to the developers of this app, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400% using Focus@Will. It combines neuroscience and music – yes, music – to increase productivity and block out distractions. This app is ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working, or reading.
- Forest: This unique time management apps helps you “stay away from your smartphone and stay focused on your work.” How, you ask? Whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, it will die. And no one wants the tree to die.
- Trello: You have probably heard or used Trello before due to its popularity. This web-based app allows you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board, which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed. This serves as your cue to start working on and completing the associated tasks.
- Quire: Quire is an innovative time management app that helps boost your team’s productivity. The strength of this app lies in its features for collaboration and ease of sharing. You can streamline and adjust your workflow based on your team’s needs and preferences.
- Todoist: This app lets you schedule all your tasks and activities, flag priority and assign a due date. You can also add notes to any of your tasks.
over to you
What tools and techniques do you use to manage your time and keep your focus in your day? Have you tried any of the resources shared here?
Let us know in the comments below!