skip to content

Time management: How to improve your productivity


Time management seems to be the single biggest challenge for all my friends and colleagues at the moment. And if I feel I’m fighting the clock, then people with their own business are experiencing this ten-fold. Guest writer Peter Wood, shares some of his tips for increasing your productivity.

If ‘time is gold’ then time management is the key to productivity, results, profits and perhaps our happiness and freedom.

However, for many the concept of time only becomes relevant to the working day once we realise that there isn’t enough of it. Could that be because each hour of our life is never the same length (relatively)? Think about that.

A year after birth marks your first birthday, and that one year comprises 100 per cent of your life. By the time you finish school, a year on Earth becomes a dwindling 5.5 per cent of your years. Once you hit 40, a year becomes just 2.5 per cent of your total existence.

So if it feels like time is flying by at a faster rate, it is.

Meanwhile, our personal lives and workplaces constantly invent new ways for infringing on our valuable seconds. According to tech research firm Radicati Group, the average businessperson in 2011 sent and received 112 email messages each day.

As these technological developments can also help or hinder your time management, coming up with new ways to allocate your valuable seconds may need assessment with each new year.

Understand your time first

Productive work time can be spent in three ways: thoughts, conversations and actions. You will battle interruptions and distractions, but you can also learn to allocate how much time you spend on each of these activities to ensure the best results.

Use your diary differently

You can’t have a savings plan without identifying your spending habits. If ‘time is money’, you need to treat it as such. Record those thoughts, conversations and activities for one week to reveal where your time is spent in the day. You will also identify where time produces results and which segments of time are unproductive.

Prioritise the best use of time

Once you have identified your key areas of productivity, use your diary to ensure at least 50 per cent of your time will be spent on the thoughts, activities and conversations that get the best results.

Quit email, quit phones

Let the phone go to voicemail and shut down your email. People vying for your attention can lead to lost productivity on other important matters. Schedule a time to answer emails and return phone calls.

Put social media in its place

Facebook, Twitter and your website can generate business. However, useful tools can also become distractions. Allocate a time to engage with your networks. Then, promptly switch off. A process for measuring the success of these activities ensures further success. Also use tools to improve your ROI from social media.

Stand up for your time

Hold stand-up meetings. Appointments where chairs are banned are often attributed to a trend out of Google’s offices. However, the stand-up meeting is also a military tactic used to achieve results faster. Without becoming a drill sergeant, find ways to lessen the chance of tuning out.

If balancing time management better is the key to your productivity, identify what needs to be done and make the changes. Otherwise this can become another unproductive ‘thought’ or ‘conversation’ with no ‘action’.

What single task consumes the most time in your working day?