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Chris LoCurto

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March 29, 2012

4 Great Time Management Tips

March 29, 2012 | By | 43 Comments">43 Comments

If you’re anything like me, time management can be an issue. When you leave work, your brain doesn’t stop focusing on that day’s tasks. Throughout your evening, little things pop up in your brain saying, Hey … don’t forget you have to work on me tomorrow. I’m not going away, so there’s no point in acting like I don’t exist.

Inevitably, I send myself email reminders of the things I need to do the next day throughout the night. C’mon, don’t act like you don’t do the same thing. I know that when your spouse gets up and goes into the other room, you quickly pull out your phone and email yourself. You’re hoping they don’t come back in and say, “Are you with me or your work?!”

So how do you avoid such time management silliness? Here are five simple things you can do to free up your mind when you leave work:

  • Block it off – Set aside at least the last 15 minutes of your workday, so that you can focus on “wrapping up” your day. This can be very difficult for some people because there is still time left to do other things. However, if you use this time wisely, you will discover that it will create at least an hour of more productivity the next workday.
  • Send it out – Go through your emails and answer anything that hasn’t been answered yet. You saw them come in, so you know what needs to be done with them. Answer them quickly, so you’ve done your part to get those topics moving.
  • Write it down – The to-do list is one of the best time management tools there is. Studies show it can actually create up to two hours of productivity in your day. Why? Because without it, you are bouncing from task to task as you remember them. While the day is still fresh on your mind, do a quick brain dump of all the things you need to do tomorrow and then prioritize them. When you hit the door, start with the top of the list.
  • Clean it up – In How To Declutter Your Mind, I discuss how your mind is organized the same way your desk is. Yep, I just heard the audible OHHH from a lot of you. If your desk is a mess, even if you know where everything is, your subconscious keeps telling you that you have to do something with all of that stuff. Take a couple of minutes each day to clean it up! Read the post, trust me.

A little time management will change your day. If you will spend at least 15 minutes doing each of these, not only will your next workday be considerably more productive, but your night will be, too. Your silly subconscious won’t be talking to you all evening about work, so you can focus on what matters most…like your family.

Question: How does your day usually close out? 

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  • http://www.uattend.com/ TimeClocks

    Your managements are reliable and useful for me, because I use to waste time to manage my employees. Thank you for such interesting post. http://www.uattend.com

  • http://www.uattend.com/ TimeClocks

    Your managements are reliable and useful for me, because I use to waste time to manage my employees. Thank you for such interesting post. <a href=”http://www.uattend.com/”>Time clock</a>

  • http://www.epreferreds.com/ preferred stocks

    my best suggestions are to stop studying for a day or two. take a break! go see a movie, go out with friends go shopping, do soemthing to take your mind off the SAT!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Chris! Thanks for the tips. I have experienced the idea of “writing it down” work wonders for me. That has improved my productivity and efficiency in the long run.

  • http://www.easyfx.com/ money conversion

    It is good that you care about making the house look nice…most 14 year olds don’t feel much ownership for the house and therefore don’t care.

  • http://www.easyfx.com/ money conversion

    Pliz i need help in this….can you give me some great and easy to remember time management tips that i can carry out everyday !!!

  • http://www.easyfx.com/ money conversion

    my best suggestions are to stop studying for a day or two. take a break! go see a movie, go out with friends go shopping, do soemthing to take your mind off the SAT! it is not the only thing that determines if you get into a university

  • http://www.easyfx.com/ money conversion

    I am a busy person and I was wondering if there are any work-ready tips that could help me get ready for work in at least 15 minutes. If someone could tell me the best clothes that don’t have to be ironed that would be great.

  • cabinart

    Since beginning work on a book with 230 drawings, I’ve learned to leave a drawing just ALMOST finished at the end of the day. That way I know immediately where to begin the next day instead of getting seized up by indecision. When I need to take a break from drawing, I can work on the stacks of stuff – putting things away and doing whatever the next step is on each thing.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    One thing that helps me is to end my day with some reading. I will read materials related to my field and maybe some other materials as well. That helps me start to decompress my mind from the workday because I find it to be an enjoyable activity.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Interesting. Never thought of that.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    I have serious issues with time management. I’ve always struggled with PxP (Procrastination by Perfectionism) Syndrome. This means until all stars are lined up and I can do things PERFECT, they will get put off. Fortunately I have developed a sort of dual personality and I can handle work very well and stay on top of deadlines like a champ! If I could only carry that to home… What helps me at work is to schedule my daily tasks on Outlook early in the morning and check them off as I go. It’s nice to see those little check marks and to know exactly when they were completed. At home… not so much. I think having a list that reads: cook dinner, wash dishes, do laundry, put kids to bed, repeat… is not too exciting. I think I can remember those four things. And most of the time they don’t get done in that order, or they don’t get done at all. I’ve been trying to NOT do anything on my commute to work (I’ve been trying to use every second of my time, I’ve read about 8 books, crocheted a blanket, three scarfs and two hats on the train and written several blog posts on my iPad… all on the commuter train) and have those “pockets of quietude” to settle down my mind and my heart and ask God instead, ‘How can I serve YOU best today’?

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      At least you don’t have anything going on in your life. :-)

  • margibson

    Blocking off time at the end of the day to prepare for the next has been so difficult for me for me to make a priority, esp. when I’m in uber task mode. I even have a calendar reminder + just deleted it yesterday b/c I got tired of ignoring it so much. I think this was the kick I needed to start it up again + combine my to-do lists into one so I can start the following day off more productively!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA…deleted it yesterday huh? Now you can put it back. :-)

  • Nicgraf

    Chris,
    My day never closes out. We own our own business and it seems like it never ends. How do I put an end to a day when it feels all consuming? It really is so hard to turn my brain off or to focus on any thing else. The separation is almost impossible. Any suggestions on this?
    Nicole

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You MUST be intentional. It’s ok when the “ox is in the ditch”, but it’s a terrible long term plan. At some point you have to say “no work during this time” and keep it that way. Trust me when I say, it will still be there tomorrow. :-)

  • http://lifestoked.com Deacon Bradley

    I love the idea of neatly wrapping up your work day at the end and getting it ready for the next day. I do the same thing in other areas of my life (dishes, putting laundry away, etc.) so it makes perfect sense.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Great point! Funny how we leave work a mess to straighten up at home.
      Deacon Bradley…that’s a cool name.

  • Bryan Sullo

    I have a half-hour schedueld, toward the end of each day, to plan the next four days: I pick four things to do each day and put them on a list, categorized by day

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I like it Bryan!!

  • http://www.fieldofdebt.com/ Jen McDonough

    Chris,
    GREAT POST! Love that you have a “routine” at night to wrap up your day. When I was training for Ironman Triathlon with three little kids and working full time with a one hour commute each way, I would put all my stuff out each evening along with my training schedule. On days I thought I didn’t need to do this, I found I WASTED 25-30 minutes on looking for things, getting distracted with just doing a little housework here or there, etc. It really helped to look at the week as 168 hours increments -be intentional made me successful on putting my family first, completing Ironman and staying injury free, and doing a great job at work.
    Same time management skills are being applied to my new business – SO EASY to get distracted by the little things if we let them. LOVE the idea of blocking out 15 minutes each night to close things out.
    Live Beyond Awesome!
    Jen

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Jen, I love the comment about how being intentional kept you injury free. It’s crazy how much that applies to stuff that’s not physical.

  • chris_rainey

    No, seriously honey I’m not in here commenting on another LoCurto blog…

    A few years ago I had read a blog from Michael Hyatt about Getting Things Done which was based on a book of the same title. Since then I’ve been pretty successful at keeping my inboxes to zero. As with most things in life it comes down to discipline and the things we focus on are the things that get done.

    I’ve also concentrated on my desk and filing system. It either gets filed or tossed in the trash.

    As with some others who have commented her I’ve also created meetings with myself – times blocked out to focus on the small things that if left undone become the raging fire that ends up consuming an entire afternoon.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      BAH!!!! “No, seriously honey I’m not in here commenting on another LoCurto blog…” Surely she’s ok with that, right? :-D

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      So you’re part of the “I’m not on the blog” club?! Awesome!

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    How timely your post is! I am finalizing this HUGE project – working on about 20 things at once – and they are all on my desk! Ok – as soon as I catch up on reading and commenting on your posts – my next action is to CLEAN OFF MY DESK and pull out ONE thing at a time to review and finish. Great stuff – appreciate you!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      See, good prioritization! My blog THEN cleaning.

  • http://todddietrich.com/ Todd Dietrich

    This is a great post. Now I need to find a way to determine when something should just fall off my to-do list. I have things that keep getting pushed off day after day. They still need to get done, but other more important and more urgent things keep bumping them down the priority list.

  • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

    A while back, as an experiment, i blocked my calendar for an hour at the end of the day. What a difference this made. I would use this time to do all the things Chirs has mentioned above, as well as plan out for the next day, update my todo lists, check off things not done etc, etc. I have now made this permanent, and i refuse to change it. Before i got a lot, “we are trying to set up a meeting with so and so, and this is the only time we have with everybody except you, any chance you could move your meeting?” But everytime i did, i would end up having to tack in another hour to the end of the day, which off course would spill out into the following day…and on and on.
    Now i’ll only give up the time if it’s really, really critical. I still think it’s one the best strategies, i have found in my life to manage my time.

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      Great idea to time block the END of the day – I just may give this a try – my days seem to be “endless”!

      • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

        Louise, just do it, and give a month, your life will never be the same again!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s awesome!! It really makes a world of difference. Now you can end the day somewhat peacefully instead of like a run on sentence. :-)

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Your post today couldn’t have come at a better time. Actually, it would have been better YESTERDAY!

    As I type this (quietly in the next room as my wife yells to me “You’re not on the computer right now, right?”), we are scrambling to finish up packing for our trip to Nashville.

    Why are we scrambling? Because we failed to manage out time correctly. Time management is crucial in all aspects of life, not just work. The cluttered desk is not just theory…it’s a reality. It’s impossible to think clearly when your work area is a mess around you.

    I wish the Scott from today could go back in time and punch the Scott from yesterday in the throat when he said, “We’re on vacation. Let’s not stress about it. We’ll finish packing in the morning.”

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      I have to say – I LOVE it when I read someone who does the same things I do ….sorry – I should wish better for you – but hey – it’s good to know I’m not alone in the world!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      BAH!!!! That’s hilarious! And hey, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I’m so excited that you guys are going to be doing your debt free scream!!!

  • Marianna

    The first point is the one I struggle with. I’ve even had a daily reminder on my calendar for at least a year – and it drives me nuts. I think this is the reminder that I need to try it again and actually DO it!

  • http://twitter.com/robertremodels Robert Warren

    That is such a great topic Chris! I ask God each day to show me how to use my time wisely. It seems like my day as far as business is concerned starts when I open my eyes and ends when I close them. I like what Zig Ziglar says “Wherever you are be there”, that’s easier said than done of course. I enjoy ending my day reading and this helps bring an end to it. I will work on using your 4 steps to help my time management as well, they are great ideas. It’s like everything else, we just have to make a quality decision to get better at it before we are going to change!

    Thanks for helping us get better!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I was at the Olympic Training Center in CO last year and they have a sign above the gym doors just like that. Hmmmm…might make a great post.

  • TroyD

    Thanks Chris, now I have to add clean my desk to my To Do list! No seriously I have, or should I say my kids have needed this post for a long time. I like all the bullet points, each one, on its own, would help me. To take the “Write it down” a little further, I once read that you should build your To Do list according to the different levels of productivity you have during the day to maximize you efforts. It seems to have helped me, I schedule the things that require the most focus for first thing in the morning because I get to the office before anyone else. I just might spend the entire day clearing my head, and call it a weekend!
    Thanks again for a great post. You are the Egg McMuffin of leadership!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHAHA!!! I’m flattered…I think. :-) And I like the part about how to schedule it. Never thought of it that way.