Working hours are a strange thing. Some people work better from 9 am to 5 pm, others only work on weekends, and then some are most productive in five-minute bursts. How do you decide how to structure your work time to be most effective?

Few things in life are as important as managing your time effectively. Setting a schedule will help you do what you need to do and have enough time for non work-related activities. This will help you get more done and have more free time.

The following steps can help you to build a schedule to manage your time more efficiently.

Declutter your workspace

A decluttered space is a decluttered mind. According to The New York Times, clutter can affect you negatively, and that might cause you stress. When you have fewer visual distractions, you can focus on your work. If you run a customer-focused business, a clean, quiet workspace helps your customers focus on what you have to say.

The first step in this process is to get rid of anything you do not need. Get out some trash bags and go through everything you have in your office, studio or even just your desk. If it’s something you have not used in the last year (or months) or anything that is not useful, beautiful, or joyful and  brings back positive memories when you look at it, throw it away or donate it.

When you separate yourself from the unimportant things, you’ll have less “noise” to distract you from the things that matter—and it will be easier for you to focus on them.

Set your tasks at the beginning of the week

Take some time to go over all the tasks you have to do this week. Set a time and a deadline for this. If you have an endless list, do not be afraid to move some tasks  to another day or even another week.

Make sure you also prioritize your list to focus on the most critical tasks first. You’ll find that everything else will fall into place as soon as you get the essential items on your to-do list done.

Also, when creating your to-do list, be realistic about how much time each task will take and how much time you have in total. Do not try to cram too many hours of work into a short period—that will only stress you out and cause you not to get anything done right!

Group small tasks together

Many of us grew up multitasking, but it’s not helpful when trying to get our work done. Studies show that multitasking hurts your productivity and lowers the quality of your work. When you focus on one thing, you get more done in less time and you do it well.

One way to simplify your life is to make a list. Lists make it easier to focus on the essential things while ensuring everything gets done. This point may seem obvious, but many people overlook this concept when trying to run their business.

On your list, the small tasks should be broken down into manageable chunks to be completed promptly. This includes updating your website, making posts on social media, and calling customer service. If you are having trouble handling all of these tasks on your own, try outsourcing them.

Identify distractions

The most effective way to get rid of distractions is to eliminate them.

If you are constantly interrupted by phone calls, turn your phone off or put your ringer on silent. If you have difficulty turning down people who want to meet with you, close your office door (or work at home).

The more complex approach to eliminating distractions recognizes that your behavior causes them.

For example, if you frequently check your email or look at Facebook to recover from a task you are struggling with, you have created an unnecessary distraction. You can avoid this distraction by putting off these activities until they need to be done or by not doing them until you have completed the difficult task.

Be more efficient with your energy

The time of day you choose to complete specific tasks can significantly impact your productivity. If you are unsure when the best time for you is, try keeping a productivity diary to track when you are most productive.

It all depends on how you work best. Some of us work best in the morning and some come alive in the late afternoon. Schedule your most important tasks for the periods when you have the most energy. Do not waste your best time on tasks you could have done quickly.

During periods of low energy, your brain is also more prone to digress. People can feel exhausted in the morning from late-night television or social media. It can be helpful to use a social media blocking app or website like Freedom or SelfControl (for Mac) during these periods of low focus and energy.

We all know that feeling when we think about what we accomplished at the end of the day. It can be an excellent feeling or a horrible feeling. We often feel like we did not do enough or did too much of one thing. To be productive, you need to manage your time to work best for you.

Conclusion

At the end of the day we all want to be productive, which means managing work to allow for self-care and output without getting overwhelmed. We hope that you’ll be able to implement some of these tips into your workflow and they will help you become more productive—and hopefully let you get back to being more effective in your business.

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