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How often have you been in this situation?
You wake up.
You grab a coffee.
You go to look at your to do list.
You realise that 24 hours in a day just isn’t enough. Heck, seven days in a week just isn’t enough.
And you have no idea how you’re going to get all of this work done on time, without ruining the quality of it all.
If you’re like me, that sounds like any day that ends in a ‘y’.
Because the curse of being a marketer is that there is always something to be done. Whether it’s for a client, for yourself or, you know…trying to have a life outside of it all.
And, about six months ago, I got sick and tired of feeling this way.
I found myself at the end of a working week, looking at my slice of Pizza, realising that I hadn’t left the house in six days.
So I started researching productivity and looking at how I could maximise my time without ever losing quality.
And, as of the time of writing this, I cut my working week down to as little as 16 hours a week, without losing a single penny of income.
But, that’s a story for another time. Instead, in this list, I’m going to show you 30 easy to implement ways to help you have more time, get more done and make more money.
And if that sounds like something you want (I’m pretty sure it is), read on…
What You Will Learn
- Life Hacks: Easy to implement time management techniques for everyday life
- Science Hacks: Scientifically proven methods to be more productive
- Free Tools: Simple to use free time management tools that almost create more time from thin air
- Paid tools: In case you want to make an investment in your free time
- Pro time management tips: How people from Richard Branson to our very own Matthew Woodward create time
The Science Of Having More Time
Okay, before we hit the list, I want to debunk a myth for you:
There is no such thing as multitasking.
Which means that the key to getting more done isn’t to fit more tasks into the hours that you work. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s to increase the quality of the work in your hours.
They found that the most elite violinists – the ones with the best technical and performance skills – didn’t spend more time practicing their skills.
In fact, some of them spent less time practicing than others.
Instead they were more deliberate with how they practiced.
They didn’t try and acquire two or three new skills at once. They chose one objective, saw it through to completion and then moved on to the next task, or ended their session.
- Less overwhelm
- Less burnout
- Less stress
- Better end product
And if you look at how you manage your time right now, that’s probably the exact opposite of what you’re doing. You’re trying to do everything at all once.
If you take one thing from this article, let it be this:
Take a breath. Look at your to do list. Choose one task. Finish it. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Once you know that you can start using this list to maximise the time you do have. To eek those extra drops out of it, and turn minutes into hours.
8 Easy To Implement Time Management Techniques
Simple. Easy. And, super effective. These don’t require any preparation or messing about. They just deliver epic productivity over and over again.
#1 – The 2 Minute Rule
David Allen’s 2-Minute Rule is easy to follow.
First, you need to break down your task into its smallest, easiest to complete component, like:
- Writing a sentence
- Taking a screenshot
- Bullet pointing your next article
- Creating a Tweet
- Replying to one comment on your blog
The idea being that this task should take you no more than 2 minutes to complete.
Next, and this is the really crazy bit about it all…
You need to do it.
Yep. I know.
And, seeing as you’ve started, there’s no point in stopping, right?
This is the perfect system to implement if you’ve wasted the last 30 minutes procrastinating about what to do.
#2 – Eat The Frog
This is a really common time hack, but it’s often overlooked because, well…it involves doing something you don’t like.
But if you’re serious about getting more done every day, then this is a method you need to take seriously. Plus, Brian Tracy will rarely ever steer you wrong.
It works like this:
- Take the task you least want to do
- Put it first on your to-do list
- Get it out of the way at the start of the day
- The rest of the day becomes a whole lot easier
If you leave your dreaded task until last, you’re going to spend the rest of your day worrying about it. It’ll slow you work rate down. And you’ll create hundreds of excuses why you can’t do it.
This is the precise strategy that Matthew used recently to grind out a project, each day doing the most dreaded task first – everyday, for 2 months straight.
So just get it done and you’ll breeze through that other work in half the time.
#3 – Become A Perfect Email Checker
It’s no secret:
You’re addicted to your inbox.
It’s okay, so is the rest of the modern world. On average you could spend up to 13 hours a week checking your email.
Which is a lot of wasted time. Time that could spent actually, you know…working.
Not only does this make you less productive, it also creates a lot of stress for you too. But there is an answer for you…
The brains at the University of British Columbia found that the ideal amount to check your email inbox is three times a day.
This tip alone could save you eight or nine hours a week. You can thank me later.
#4 – Learn A Lazy Cheat Code
For every task you need to tackle, there is always a lazy way to do it and this is one of Matthews favorite time management techniques.
Now being lazy doesn’t mean that you’re going to cut corners or do a sloppy job. What it means is this:
You’re going to find the fastest way to complete a task for the least amount of effort.
This can be completely unique to you, or it can be one that lots of people use. If you get creative here though, you can find yourself looking for cheat codes in everything and shaving hours off your work week.
Here are a few examples I use for my writing business to give you an idea:
- A pre-made article structure: If I really don’t know what to write for an article, I use this to just work through the points from A-Z until it’s completed. Then go back and edit.
- Tweet templates: I have five stock tweets I reword for different topics when I get really busy.
- Ctrl + F: If I’m researching, instead of reading an article all the way through, I’ll hit ctrl + f to bring up ‘find’, and just search for the relevant piece topics I need.
Whether it is something as simple as learning all of the keyboard based shortcuts for software you use the most or templating your work load where you can – spending a bit of time planning now can save you a lot of time in the future.
#5 – Turn Off Your Phone
You check your phone about 110 times a day. And, if you’re on the really bad end of it, it can be up to every six seconds.
That’s a lot of wasted time looking at stuff that doesn’t really help you get your work done.
So, just turn the thing off, okay?
If you really can’t turn it off, there are a few apps in the upcoming sections that will help you out.
Matthew’s phone is in a permanent state of silence. It doesn’t ring or vibrate, any time of the day which makes for peaceful working and living all round.
#6 – Try A Flow State Activity
Flow is the point of total immersion in a task. Where you’re mentally closed off from the outside world and focused only on what you’re doing right in that moment.
You’ve probably felt it at work before, where you’ve blinked and realised your coffee has gone cold and you’ve just checked off the first four points on your to-do list.
Getting into this flow state is key for getting more work done. Because when you’re in it you work fast and you create quality. But how do you get into that state?
Well you need to find a task that:
- Isn’t too hard to complete
- But is challenging enough to make you work
For example, let’s say you’ve got to write a blog post.
Instead of sitting and staring at the introduction not knowing what to write, choose a section of the article that you know you can write and start there.
I started writing this post at The Science Of Having More Time because the study interested me. And, I know I had to think about what to write, but not hard enough to stop me writing.
No matter what your task is, find the point you can start working at, and then attack the harder parts of the task when you’re in your flow.
#7 – The 5 Sentence Email
Okay, so I’ve shown you that you need to check your email less. But, there is another really simple way to bring down the amount of time you spend around your inbox too.
Write less email.
Notice how I didn’t say send less email. I said write. Because you need emails to communicate. But what you don’t need is to write an essay every time you send one.
Instead try adopting this tactic:
Keep every email to five sentences or less.
You can say a lot in just these few sentences. And if you’re worried about sounding curt or short with people, try using funny animated emoticons to convey your meaning a little better.
You can even use some of these Gmail tips and tricks to cut down that time even more!
#8: The 20% Rule
This is simple and easy for anyone to do.
20% of an eight hour working day is about 90 minutes. And, 90 minutes is long enough to get a lot of work done.
If you were to block out 90 minutes a day, five days a week, for defined work that would be eight hours of uninterrupted, productive work.
Even if you sit around and do nothing for the rest of the week, think about what you could do in that time:
- Write two to three blog posts
- Schedule a month’s worth of status updates
- Write a killer sales page and emails to your entire list
- Produce an entire Udemy course
- Record eight podcast sessions ready for editing
- Create that email buy in you always talk about but never do
- Optimize your last 10 blog posts with new SEO
And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.
Be ruthless. Block out that 20% of your day and make it your own, personal, get shit done time. You won’t regret it.
Scientifically Proven Ways To Get More Done
Everyone has their own view on productivity. But, if you want to know what’s sure to work, it’s always best to look at the science. Here’s some of the top tips.
#9: Change Your Workstation
Your desk is your sanctum sanctorum, right? It’s the place where you get work done.
But, here’s the thing:
Your desk could be killing your productivity after all. Because being stuck in that same place, over and over again, can be quite stifling.
In research done by workplace psychologists, they told the Wall Street Journal that by re-positioning yourself, or the people you work around, it can lead to faster focus and more innovation.
That doesn’t mean you can’t come back to your old desk. But, trying these new surroundings for a couple of weeks, or months, you can reap a lot of productive benefits.
For example, in my own experiments, I changed my workstation at the start of every working week for a month. And by the time I came back to my original desk, I’d shaved 4-6 hours off my week.
#10: Get Warm
Focus and productivity are massively controlled by how your body is feeling in that moment.
If you’re ill, if you’re tired, if you’ve eaten something crap, it’s all going to affect how you approach your work.
What’s also interesting is that your body temperature can play a huge role in it to. And, by heating your body up, you can increase your output.
“[Studies show] A small rise in body temperature has been shown to stimulate both working memory and alertness – the two key ingredients of sustained cognitive performance”
Which, in basic English, means that by getting a bit warmer, you can get more work done.
- Taking a hot shower
- Sitting near a warm radiator for a few minutes
- Drinking a hot cup of coffee or tea
- Putting on a sweater for a while
- Go for a workout
Whichever is available to you.
#11: Make Less Decisions (Or Be More Decisive)
You’re only given so many attention points in a day. Because, once they’re spent, your brain starts to get tired.
And as a marketer, you want to try and give your attention to as many different places as you can:
- What’s the Twitter feed doing?
- Has someone commented on the post?
- I need to take care of that email
- How do I increase the traffic here?
- What about if I try and SEO this content as I write it?
Which leads to burnout, overwhelm and you just not getting any quality work done at all.
But you might think, well…what does this have to do with making decisions? Good question…
The decisions you make every day, from what you’re going to wear, to where you’re going to eat and which task you’re going to take on first, all start to mount up.
And they use those vital attention points.
So in order to be more productive and do more work, science says you need to either:
- Make fewer decisions
- Make decisions quicker
- Automate your decisions
Here are a few ways to use this knowledge to your advantage:
- Spend no more than 15 minutes on a decision
- Pre plan your day and never stray from it
- Outsource trivial things that require your attention
- Limit the work you’re able to do on a particular day, like making Mondays for Social Media
#12: Take More Breaks
That’s right. Taking a break from your work could actually be what you need to get more done.
And, I know, that goes against everything the system has ever taught you. But the system is wrong. This is about you getting more work done, nobody else.
There is a tonne of science to show that taking breaks from your desk and doing something unrelated can help you stay focused on your work, without impacting your quality.
Here are a few break methods you can try:
- 50/10: Work for 50 minutes, take a 10 minute break
- 90/20: Work for 90 minutes, take a 20 minute break
- Pomodoro: Work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break (set an alarm or an egg timer for this)
- Planned 15: Block out two 15 minute do-nothing blocks in your day and stick to them (I recommend 11am and 3pm)
#13: Learn To Say No
You’re a people person, right?
As a marketer, you tend to have to be. Because you like people, you want to help them, and you want to use your products to do it.
But a byproduct of that is that you really struggle to say… no.
You’re happy to take on work. You’re happy to do those extra hours. And, at the end of the day, you’re happy to help people while sacrificing your own results.
Instead you need to learn how to say no to people. Because no isn’t a dirty word. In fact, it’s the opposite. It shows you have respect for your time, for yourself and for your work.
Want to say no effectively? Learn to say, “I don’t” instead of “I can’t” .
Plus, “I don’t have time for that” is a much more confident, assertive statement than, “I can’t do it, sorry”.
#14: Get The Perfect Room Temperature
Too low or too high and you can decrease your productivity.
A simple change, backed by science.
#15: Go For A Walk
You know you need to exercise. I know you need to exercise. And now, it goes beyond your health and into your work.
A recent study has found that people who take a 30 minute walk on their lunch break are:
- Less stressed
- More focused
- More adaptive
Than those who don’t. And with less stress and more focus, you can do a lot more work.
Take a walk, even just for a few minutes, to clear your head. In just a few days you’ll find you’re much more focused and effective with your time.
Free Apps To Help You Stay Productive
From time to time, you’re going to need a helping hand to get you to stay on task. Because habit (and temptation) can sometimes just become a little too much.
Thankfully, these free apps are on hand to help you stay on track.
#16: Focus On
If you’ve got an Android phone, and are addicted to it, this app is perfect for you.
I personally use this on my Samsung and it’s given me back countless hours of my life.
Simply download and install it, and use it to block apps that you spend a lot of time on. Like social media, email, WhatsApp, Reddit and others for a certain period of time.
Between 8:30am and 12:30pm, or 2pm and 2:15pm, or however long you feel you want to block the apps out for.
You can set it to run on specific days too so you don’t have to set it up each and every time.
#17: The iPhone Equivalent
I’m going to be really honest here…finding an effective App Blocker for the iPhone is hard (if you have one, or suggestions, let me know in the comments.)
However, the best option I could find is this app called AppCap. It’s for Jailbroken iPhones and lets you only open up apps and games a certain amount of times a day (a limit set by you).
Perhaps there is an opportunity here for someone with app development skills!
Slack is ideal if you work in teams, because it can save you a lot of time on email and trying to get hold of people.
It’s a simple desktop and phone messaging app that puts all of your people together.
You can send files, messages, notes, whatever it is that you need to. And you can do it in a group chat or with individual people.
I use this with the entire team over at Share As Image and it’s helped solve so many problems. Because – as you’ll see at the Pro section that’s coming up – it helps you deal with it now.
#19: Rescue Time
It’s amazing what you can do with your time you know how you’re spending it. Which is what Rescue Time allows you to do.
It tracks all of your movement while you’re at your computer and categorises them in order of productivity.
Which means that when you see a lot of red, you know you need to do a little less procrastination:
And, because it ranks your weekly productivity score as a percentage, it turns it into a game.
So you can consistently try and improve it. Which has a huge impact on the quality of work you do and where you spend your time:
As organisational tools go, Trello is the best of the bunch.
If you’re not familiar, it lets you organize your life into easy to access – and share – cards. Whether that’s a:
- To do list
- Content plan
- Tasks and goals
- Article idea
- Social media schedule
- Workflow system
You can do pretty much anything you want to keep yourself organised. For me, I used it to store all the articles I need to write, when they’re due for and the outlines for the articles.
Meaning I get a lovely little email in my inbox when something is due, and I know I need to work on it. And I never forget a task that’s been put on there.
You can get creative with it and make it fit your tasks. But you’d be amazed at just how much knowing what you have to do, consistently, can increase your productivity.
Take a look at some of these inspiring boards to help get you started!
#21 + 22: The Secret Weapon
This comes from our own Matthew Woodward as one of his key productivity, get more done tips.
The secret weapon is absolutely free, but can do epic things for you.
It’s basically a system that combines:
- Your current email client
To create a foolproof system for productivity. It helps you organise everything and gives your prompts, systems and ways to capture ideas you didn’t think were possible.
Basically, this secret weapon helps you organise chaos and Matthew deals with a lot of chaos. Winner.
#23: Hemingway Editor
How do you feel about editing your blog posts?
If I’m honest, I hate it. And it’s a big part of my job. Which is what makes Hemingway so special.
It cuts hours off your time editing and formatting your posts, by highlighting all the run on sentences and hard to read paragraphs and spelling mistakes, so that you only have to edit the bits that you need to edit.
And to save you reading your blog posts again for the 300th time.
What The Pro’s Are Doing: 6 Tips From The World’s Best
Okay, you’ve seen the science and the recommendations. Now it’s time to see how the pro’s stay on track…
#24: Deal With Something Only Once
This is something Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits fame, learned from a Zen Master a few years back.
When he asked her if she wanted to go for tea sometime , she pulled out her notebook and organised a date there and then. She told him:
“Deal with something once. Do it now. Then it’s off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.”
So, instead of just adding these small little tasks onto your to-do list, just get them over and done with.
This is easy to apply to the 2 minute rule, too. If it takes more than 2 minutes, put it on your list. If not, get it done now. And get on with the next thing.
#25: Freeze Your Meals
This is another, quite smart, suggestion from Matthew himself.
Not only does this let you reduce the decisions you have to make, it also opens up a lot of free time.
Batch cook your favourite meals on one of your quiet days – like a Sunday – and put them in the freezer to eat at a later date. T
hen when it comes to meal times, you don’t have to worry about setting aside extra time to:
- Go and pick up take out
- Order food
- Wash up and clear away
Instead you only have to set aside time to microwave and eat it. Splendid.
Here is a picture straight from Matthew’s freezer today-
Which currently includes-
- Chicken rogan josh
- Sesame seed chicken
- Beef stew
- Breakfast burritos (these are awesome)
- Tomato soup
#27: Exercise First Thing In The Morning
This is something a lot of high powered people do. And is the personal favourite of Richard Branson, who said it gave him eight hours more focus than on days he didn’t exercise.
Now you don’t have to commit a lot of time to this but I’d suggest around 30-45 minutes. The main goal is to get your heart rate up, work some muscles and enjoy yourself.
Matthew spends his waking moments on the beach with his dog in the morning that provides plenty of exercise along with the perfect environment to wake up in.
#28: Have An Airplane Day
Bryan Guido Hassin is a university professor and start up junkie who has come up with a genius strategy for becoming more productive.
After noticing he got much more work done while he was flying, he decided to add Airplane Days in his week, even if he wasn’t flying.
That means he locked himself at his favourite workplace and:
- Turned off his phone
- Cut off the WiFi
- Being out of the office to any employees or students
So that he was never interrupted or disturbed by things that can wait.
Try it for yourself. Pick a day next week and shut yourself off from the world. Even if only for a morning. And see how much your productivity spikes.
#29: No Meeting Wednesdays
This is a strategy used by Facebook to boost the productivity of its workers and it works a charm. I use it in my own business and it’s made a big difference to me.
Simply choose a day of the week and dedicate that there can be no meetings done. Whether that’s in person, on Skype or over the phone.
You can waste countless hours worrying about, or with idle chit chat, in meetings. And they aren’t always productive in and of themselves. So have a free day where they aren’t part of your strategy.
#30: Tidy Your Desk
No matter which desk you’re at, you should keep it tidy.
While a messy desk can be great for creativity, it’s not great for focus and clarity.
So if you’re looking to get creative, feel free to let your desk clutter and fill with trash. But as soon as it becomes time get the work done you need to tidy up and free distractions.
The Art Of Productive Marketing
There you are. There’s the 30 time management techniques you need to know to get more work done in much less time.
Now you can spend that time doing more of the things you love in life!
Now, I’m interested…
What are your personal productivity strategies?
Are there any that you recommend, or that you’ve tried that have supercharged your results?
Let me know in the comments…