Returning to work after a long holiday is never easy. On top of rediscovering day-to-day motivation in the wake of a relaxing weekend filled with Thanksgiving leftovers, chances are you had a few hundred (or thousand) emails clogging up your inbox on Monday morning.
So what can you do to properly manage your time and increase productivity now that it’s December? Browsing post-Cyber Monday deals and distracting yourself with listicles, viral videos, social media, and online games is not the answer. As one Founding Father and early American Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again.”
Below are 10 strategies—five old-fashioned tips and five newfangled apps*—that we’ve found work great for employees and bosses, individuals and businesses:
1) Prioritize what’s urgent and what’s important. As American hero and former president Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Most things which are urgent are not important, and most things which are important are not urgent.” Evaluating tasks with the urgent/not urgent and important/not important criteria can help you slice and dice your to-do list into manageable chunks.
2) Procure a second monitor. Research on the productivity boost provided by multiple monitors proves what anecdotal evidence swears by: expanding your view means getting the job done faster. According to the University of Utah, a second monitor can save employees 2.5 hours per workday—that’s 10 hours per week, 40 hours per month, and 480 hours per year, per employee. If you pay your employees $10 an hour, we’re talking about nearly $5,000 in savings each year.
3) Share your documents on the cloud. The cloud isn’t just for storing data—it also makes the sharing of documents between different devices seamless, which can save you the labor-intensive time of transferring files to jump drives or syncing between devices.
4) Manage every minute while still maintaining a balance. Sounds impossible, right? Well, nearly all high-powered entrepreneurs and businesspeople follow this precept. Last year, Virgin Group founder and legendary businessman Richard Branson told Fast Company that he manages every minute of his day, right down to his exercise. Branson delegates regular duties so he can concentrate on big ventures, jots down everything on pen and paper, and aims to strike a balance in everything he does. “Manage the BlackBerry, don’t let it manage you,” he said. “I try to answer as many as I can, but I also believe that you need to speak to people. It can save you and them a lot of time.”
5) Don’t waste time trying to remember passwords. If you’re smart, you’ve got different passwords for different accounts, which minimizes the risk of intrusion or compromise. But once you’ve got all those new passwords, actually keeping track of them can seem impossible, which is where a strong password management system comes in handy. Stop wasting time resetting passwords (and losing track of them) now and you’ll immediately start saving time.
And now for the five apps, services, and software packages that can jumpstart your time management and productivity:
(*Disclaimer: The third-party apps and services listed above and below are only included in this QuickTip for reference. Contact CMIT Solutions so we can find the professional products, services, and software that are right for your needs.)
1) Rescue Time. This app monitors your Internet browser use to see what kinds of web pages are stealing your time. It’s perfect to keep yourself on track—and to motivate your employees to monitor their own time management.
2) The Journal function in Microsoft Outlook. Believe it or not, the most widely used PC email program comes built-in with a great time management function. Use Journal to automatically record any interaction you want to remember—even those not located on your computer—and organize them into a Timeline view.
3) Remember the Milk. This all-purpose (and free!) tool works across all devices, Internet browsers, and email/calendar platforms to manage your tasks easily while delivering friendly reminders of when they require action.
4) Evernote. This free productivity tool captures everything: words, thoughts, images, audio recordings, lists. Like most apps, it’s available across all platforms, allows file attachments and sharing, and even syncs with Remember the Milk.
5) Focus Booster. This paid app ($2.99/month) follows the Pomodoro principle, which relies on bursts of focus boosted by the removal of distractions to complete work in timed sessions followed by regular breaks to keep your mind fresh. The app’s timer follows a color technique that provides great visual cues to keep track of time.
At CMIT Solutions, we worry about IT so you don’t have to. That means you can concentrate on doing your job and effectively manage your time while we take care of tech issues. If you’re looking for more ways to increase your productivity and efficiency, especially in the wake of a long holiday weekend, contact us today.