Time waits for no woman, but who says you’ve got the hours to hang around and wait for time? We’ve all got meetings to take, conference calls to make, places to be and deals to close. But instead of getting consumed by the hours in the day, or the lack thereof, here are five ways to watch the clock and have your most productive day ever.
1. Pick a realistic time to wake up
You know your body and you know how much sleep you need to feel rested and ready to take on the day. And yet, we all tend to get a little overzealous when it comes to setting our alarms the night before. If I set my alarm an hour early, we rationalize, I will get a jump on my day.
Call it wishful thinking or good intentions, setting our alarms earlier than needed has the opposite effect than intended. When the early am hits, we hit snooze, falling in and out of that interrupted sleep until the moment we dash out of bed in a hurry. It’s a terrible way to start the day.
One, it makes us feel like we already missed our mark. That even though we didn’t need to wake up early, we should have. This mentality creeps into the rest of our day and doesn’t allow us to be our most productive or confident self. When you start the day disappointed in yourself, it’s that much harder to recover.
Two, alarm-hitting snooze sleep is almost worse than no sleep at all. You’re groggy and multiple studies have shown that this kind of sleep inertia reduces productivity and focus.
So be realistic about what time you need to get up. Pretending you’re going to rise at 6 am is not useful when you could sleep until 7 am and wake up bright-eyed and ready to get after it.
2. Turn your internet off for 45 minutes each morning
Scroll through your emails on your phone quickly to make sure there is no pressing emergency, but once your computer comes to life, switch the internet off.
Give yourself 45 minutes to respond to emails in a thoughtful and valuable manner. We’ve become so concerned with rapid-fire quick responses that our emails are lacking in quality. If you’re the type to email the way you text, this pause will prove productive.
Not only will you think through your answers with more clarity, but you won’t be distracted by other incoming messages, emails, or lose yourself to a Facebook news feed.
3. Time to batch it out
Time batching is a simple way to approach the day that reduces clutter and increases focus. Group activities together (emails, phone calls, blogging—i.e. writing multiple posts at one time) and see how it improves your product.
By batching out the tasks in your day, you can see exactly where your hours (like your money) are going. Productivity breeds productivity.
4. Think about what “Time well spent” really means to you
If time was an app, it would be Postmates: We use it without realizing how much we’re spending.
You can’t purchase more time. Taking stock of your day and looking at how you spend your time will move you into the following days with confidence. If you’re really spending your time “well”— which is different for everyone—it’s infectious.
We don’t want to know how much time we’ve wasted scrolling social media for “research” or texting a colleague.
Watching the clock doesn’t have to be a negative. In fact, watching the clock can help you, professionally speaking. Keeping track of your time worked and just how much you’ve accomplished in a day can be helpful in assessing where you are losing valuable hours.
5. Stop watching the clock
OK. Disregard *for a second* what we said above.
Time batching and keeping track of your hours is important, but only to a point. Within the time that you’ve allocated for yourself, don’t check the clock like a kid waiting for the lunch bell to ring.
Being productive is more important than checking to make sure you’re being productive. If you’re in the swing of it, by all means, keep rolling.