5 Productivity Skills to Better Time Management

Are you bad at managing your time? Or wonder where the hours disappear during the day? Well today, I’m going to explore five productivity skills to improve your time management.

We all wish that there were more than 24 hours a day, but that’s simply not possible.

There’s nothing worse than spending hours completing one task, only to find a growing list of 20 other tasks you need to complete by tomorrow.

So to combat your poor time management, let’s get straight into the five productivity skills.

What are Productivity Skills?

Productivity skills are the skills needed to be efficient at completing work and tasks in life and your line of job. These skills are vital for time management, problem-solving, planning tasks, and more. It’s not just about being fast, it’s about being organised and structured in how you complete said tasks.

There are many benefits to learning personal productivity skills, which include:

  • More time to focus on other tasks
  • Less procrastination
  • Higher wages & growth opportunities
  • Teams work better together
  • Less stressful work environments

Overall, productivity skills are great to learn for work and everyday life, as they can be implemented anywhere.

5 Productivity Skills To Improve Time Management

1. Stop multitasking and start monotasking

Multitasking doesn’t work for 97.5% of the population.

Multitasking hinders your productivity because when you switch through complex tasks and work frequently, it makes you less focused, your brain takes a while to adjust to a new task and makes you more prone to making mistakes. 

It also leads to a false sense of higher productivity, tricking your brain into thinking you’re being “productive” because you’re doing multiple tasks at once.

Only 2.5% of the population can effectively multitask, meaning that the rest of us better start monotasking. 

Monotasking is the opposite of multitasking and putting all focus and effort into one task. After the task is completed, you go ahead and put all of your focus into the next task, and so on. 

This boosts productivity because we’re forced to put all our focus into one singular task, and not stretch our focus thin over numerous tasks as multitasking requires. 

Benefits of monotasking:

  • Reduces distractions:
  • Increased quality of work
  • Conserves energy
productivity skills

2. The five-minute rule

Perfect for procrastinators, the five-minute rule encourages you to spend five minutes working on any task. At the end of the five minutes, you’re free to quit the task or continue if you’d like to.

It’s as simple as that. Give yourself a five-minute window to start a task, with the idea that you can quit after five minutes if you’d like. 

In a lot of instances, you’ll continue working after the five-minute timer has finished.

It works so well because it helps you overcome the initial hurdle of a task, which in many instances, is simply starting it.

If you have a big work assignment, spend five minutes starting it, and you might realise it’s not as scary as initially perceived. 

3. Track how much time you’re spending on certain tasks

Use an app or a spreadsheet to track how much time you spend on daily work and random tasks.

I use the Forest App, but there are plenty of Chrome extensions and websites that help you track time.

At the end of the week, evaluate how much time you spent on certain tasks, like checking emails, or in meetings, and decide if it’s a waste of time, or beneficial to your overall productivity. 

Tracking time will potentially make you realise that you waste a lot of time on irrelevant or ‘filler’ tasks.

It’s excellent for time management and might show you that you have much more free time than initially thought.

Here are some good time-tracking apps/websites:

4. The two-minute rule

Created by David Allen in his book ‘Getting Things Done,’ the two-minute rule states that “If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined.”

If you come across a short and simple task that can be completed in two minutes, try to complete it at that specific moment. 

This helps you complete small tasks quickly so that you can move on to more important tasks.

Some two-minute tasks in action are:

  • Sending a response text to family and friends
  • Making your bed
  • Putting dishes away from the sink
  • Replying to an email

The two-minute rule pays off in many aspects of your life, especially time management.

When you complete small tasks within two minutes, it adds a sense of accomplishment to your morning or day.

I think it’s great to incorporate the two-minute rule into your everyday life, it stops procrastination and stops lingering tasks from weighing down your focus and productivity.

5. The Pomodoro technique

One of the best productivity skills I’ve incorporated into everyday life in the past year is the Pomodoro technique.

It’s a time management method, created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.

The Pomodoro method is where you choose a specific task, set a 25-minute timer, and work on the said task until the timer goes off. After the timer has ended, you take a short 5-minute break. This 30-minute cycle is called a Pomodoro. 

After you’ve completed four pomodoros, which is four of these 25-minute work and five-minute break cycles, you can take a longer break, like 15 to 30 minutes. 

I use an app called Forest to arrange my Pomodoro timers for me, but free apps like Focus Keeper work just as well.

Similar to mono-tasking, this technique works so well because:

  • It forces you to focus on one single task at a time
  • The timer provides a sense of urgency to complete the task as quickly as possible
  • Five-minute breaks give your brain a chance to relax between tasks, and not feel so mentally drained
  • The break timer provides a chance to crossover into a new task after you’ve completed the old one

If you find the 25-minute work and five-minute break cycles too short, you can always change it to your preference. I sometimes use an hour work cycle with ten minutes of break, and that works great for certain tasks.

Each morning, you could set a goal to complete 8 pomodoros throughout the day. While this is only 200 minutes of work, it’s 200 minutes of work where you’re 100% focused and committed to the task at hand.

You could be doing 8 hours of “work” but only getting the same amount of tasks done within the four hours of pomodoros. 

25 minute pomodoro timer on iphone

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this list helps improve your time management with these productivity skills.

I’ve implemented many of these skills in the past year, and it has drastically improved my approach to work. They’re also excellent skills to learn, regardless of your career aspirations.

What productivity skills do you use to better your time management?

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