Time is a finite resource. People say that “time is money,” but I would argue that time is even more valuable. Once it is gone, you can’t get it back. Is it any wonder that efficiency, productivity, and management of time are such highly discussed topics? Here are some steps and strategies you can use to improve efficiency, productivity and time management.
Productivity and Efficiency
Efficiency and productivity are related topics. Productivity is efficiency in the production of goods or services, or the ratio of output to input, usually over a specific period of time. Efficiency is the ratio of useful work to the total energy expended to produce that work. So, there are a couple ways to increase productivity and efficiency. You can increase the amount of goods, services, or useful work being created with the same amount of energy and resources. Alternatively, you can decrease the amount of energy and resources used to produce a good or service. (Remember how we mentioned that time is a resource?)
Management of Time
If you feel like you never have enough time (and honestly, who doesn’t), it can be a valuable exercise to evaluate where your time is currently being spent. For an entire week, track and write down what you are working on for each hour. My day job (which I love) makes me track my tasking down to every 6 minutes, but I won’t make you go into quite that much detail. Tracking your time gives you accountability and may give you insight about where your time might be wasted. (Social media scrolling, anyone?) Once you have a gauge of where your time is being spent, you can evaluate what changes you want to make to get the most out of your time to increase your productivity and efficiency.
The time-tracking exercise may reveal places in your schedule where you aren’t spending your time on the tasks that will give you the greatest results. Go through the items in your task list, and identify the ones that will make the biggest impact on the goals you are trying to accomplish. Prioritize the tasks that will “move the needle” on your goals higher, and give them a space on your calendar/schedule. Larger high-priority tasks can be broken down into subtasks. Pay attention to when in the day your energy and productivity is highest, and schedule the most important tasks during those times.
Multitasking is switching quickly between tasks. This switching uses up time and mental energy as you transition and lowers your efficiency and productivity. Instead of multitasking, block out your time so that you are doing similar tasks for the week all at once. This is referred to as time blocking or batching your tasks. Limiting the amount of time spent “switching gears” between different types of tasks will help you be more efficient. Try to minimize distractions during these “productive” blocks of time.
As you analyze your time and tasking, you may notice places where you are doing the same thing over and over again. This may be an opportunity to automate a process.
For example, maybe you send a lot of emails answering very similar questions. Instead of typing up a response each time, create a template that you can copy and paste that covers those common questions. You may have to modify or tweak it for specific circumstances, but it will simplify and speed up the task the majority of the time.
Remove Unnecessary Tasks
You may notice other tasks on your to do list that don’t really make a difference to your life or your goals. You are likely just doing them out of habit, even if they are no longer serving a purpose. Removing these unnecessary tasks from your list can free up time to do more important tasks.
Intentional Recovery Time
No one can constantly be productive without some form of recovery. Using the strategies above can help you make the most of your productive time so you can be intentional about your rest time as well.
Productivity, Efficiency, and Management of Time
There you have it! A process to help you manage your time to be more productive and efficient. Have you used any of these strategies? Are there any you would add to my list?