It’s not just for part-time MBA students…
Earlier this month, we posted an IG story asking for time management and productivity tips and boy, did you all deliver. Today’s world is all about moving as quickly as possible and connecting with the entire world so why not share some tips for saving time & leveling-up your productivity. Let us know your thoughts in the comments on MBAchic!
Scroll to the bottom to see our companion video!
1. Define your north star
Make a decision on what you’re going to prioritize, what you’re going to make time for in your days. This can be written-down goals, a particular word or two that will be the theme for your week, month or year, or a mantra that you can repeat to yourself that will keep you focused. Whatever it is (goals/words/mantra), this will serve as the lens through which you’ll vet everything that comes your way – from personal to professional, it helps set some boundaries for your time.
2. Track your time (audit your day or week)
This doesn’t need to be a super-complicated thing. Personally, when tracking my time / trying to audit what I’m spending my time doing, I’ll snap a quick pic (of my lunch, my front door, etc), to help jog my memory later. They (like text messages) are timestamped and can help you build the day or week and understand what’s sucking up your time. You could also jot things down into a notebook, and set reminders that prompt your time tracking. Once you’ve got all of that, take a step back and look at where you’re wasting time, where the gaps are, and what you need to bundle together to be more efficient. This step, even if you don’t actively implement new habits, is eye-opening and helps you be more aware of your use of time.
3. Set times/rules for checking your email or social
When we asked for productivity tips, the majority of you made mention of this:
- Ana (@annieag3) said to schedule your internet/phone breaks (i.e., I will be able to check my phone at 12, not before then)
- Emily (@hey_emilyhuynh) said scheduled breaks are key
- Chrissy (@_startswithagal) said to avoid social media and play classical music (and have a triple shot espresso????)
Social media is great (hello, that’s how we reach most of you) but also *such* a time-suck and distraction. Setting boundaries like these can really keep you on task.
4. Leverage your microcycles and make quick, mindless tasks happen then
- Haley (@haleyloflin) had a great idea to set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes, and knock out little chores that take less than five minutes each
Excellent tip to set a timer and bang a few things out. I first heard of this idea of “microcycles” while working on a banking client technology project and found Bill Quinn’s research for TCS. In short, it discusses shifting client behavior (thanks to Apple), in that people were expecting banking apps to let them do quick tasks and leverage their dead times, like when waiting in a lunch line (i.e., to pay bills or transfer money). That concept stuck with me because it’s how I handle a major portion of mindless tasks like scheduling doctor appointments, buying toiletries, etc… it’s all happening on the train, in line for lunch, riding the elevator to my office… when you’re stuck with “throwaway” time, make the most of it.
5. Default meetings to 45 minutes
I can’t remember where or when I heard this but what an amazingly helpful technique for saving time & leveling-up your productivity. Most meetings don’t need to be one-hour long. The calendar is shaped that way and when something warrants more than a half-hour, we default to that. Do yourself a favor and set your default meeting length to 45 minutes. Those precious 15 minutes give you a chance to take notes, fire off emails, take a freaking bio break, and refresh ahead of the next meeting.
6. Make your phone work for you (not the other way around)
I recently read this article by Coach Tony on phone hacks and one Sunday morning, finally implemented them on my phone. What a gamechanger. First, turn off unimportant notifications (that’ll be most of them). You don’t need to get every ding that someone liked your Poshmark listing or someone updated the Dropbox folder. If you’re already scheduling social breaks, you can rest easy that you won’t miss the latest DM on Insta (or MBAchic blog post ????)
- Victoria (@vickvoss) recommended setting reminders through iOS (so smart – do this!)
Seriously, pause reading our post and go bookmark that article for future reading. It’s super-lengthy but well worth it.
7. Commit to one daily mindfulness ritual
Try to give yourself at least five minutes of daily mindfulness / “me-time” to quiet your mind and just be present. This can be full-on meditation (I’m still working on this), yoga, or even taking five minutes while walking your dog to just stand silently and watch the water, or the trees, or the traffic (standing in front of the coffee machine while it brews is also surprisingly calming and relaxing) – take a minute to pause despite the craziness of your everyday and it’ll help keep you refreshed and ready to take everything on.
8. Handle things while they’re hot (emails, meetings, fixing stuff)
I joke about this a lot, but there needs to be a word for the email so important that you’ve delayed responding and now it’s just causing you anxiety and making you look like you don’t care… don’t let this happen. Focus on saving time & leveling-up your productivity.
Whatever comes your way, if it’s a quick email to write, a meeting to book, a heel tip to drop off to the shoe guy for a repair, handle things quickly, so they don’t add up (and cause you stress). Not everything can get done this way, yes, but handling things as they come at you keeps you fresh and keeps you moving.
9. Plan your attack the next day
Another popular suggestion from you all is to make lists and check things off as you go! Personally, my favorite plan of attack before I leave the office for the day, is to write everything down that needs to happen (and what needs following up) – even just the illusion of a plan helps you clear up your head space for real shit that requires your brainpower (like, actual decisions) – bonus points if you lay out your outfit/options for the next day… why make your brain think creatively that early in the morning?
10. Get comfortable saying no, up front
- Agency Problems (@agencyprobs) had good advice for prioritzing your time and cutting out he BS: create an Outlook follow-up folder that only holds five emails to prioritize what’s important (this could go with the previous tip, too)
Probably the hardest suggestion here, as well as the best for setting boundaries and reducing stress. We’ve all backed out last minute on things. It’s not professional, and it’s even worse if you already kinda knew you weren’t going to make it. By saying no to things up front, you’re doing two things: (1) setting boundaries and prioritizing your time (and that of others) and (2) telling the person asking you to commit to something that your time is valuable and you won’t just show up to every party or engagement (because you’re a boss who has things to do). It’s not easy in the beginning, but super liberating as you get more comfortable doing it.
Wrapping up at ten tips for saving time & leveling-up your productivity here, because this list could easily run up into the dozens. We live in a world where everything is “urgent” and everyone is connected and you need to set some boundaries to keep your mind right. Take some time to protect your day-to-day and watch what you’ll accomplish in the next week, month or year.
What sort of productivity hacks or tips would you add to this list? Do you find yourself stretching time beyond real limits? Would love to know how you keep it together!
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