We all have the same number of hours in a given week. Why is it that some people make the most of those hours while others struggle to get focused? Increasing your productivity at work isn’t rocket science; it just requires being more intentional about how you manage your time.

Being in control of your time directly correlates to being in control of your goals. And the more focus you can put on the right tasks, the more impact you will see in your business. There are many tips and tricks you can implement right now to manage your time better. Take the first step in maximizing your time and improving your productivity by adopting these habits:

1 ) Plan Time to Plan

Entrepreneur observing time on clock
Entrepreneur observing time on clock

First and foremost, the key to success is giving yourself time to plan. Planning helps you generate a progressive mindset. It provides direction and guidance to help you avoid wasting time on the wrong tasks.

Start by planning out each week in advance. At the end of each week, sit down with a list of objectives you need to accomplish for the year. For this, you should be pulling from your long-term vision. Identify the big rock items you must achieve by the end of this quarter or of this month to hit your year-end goals. Those goals will act as guidelines to keep you on track week by week. Then, write down an agenda for what needs to get done this week.

By creating a plan, you enter your week with direction and purpose, keeping your long term goals top of mind.

2) Prioritize Your Tasks

Entrepreneur checking email on phone while holding coffee cup
Entrepreneur checking email on phone while holding coffee cup

When talking about time management, you must also talk about priority management. In many respects, priority management trumps time management because regardless of how disciplined and productive you are, if you don’t focus on the right priorities, you won’t be successful. To be successful, it’s not just about getting more done in less time. You want to get the right things done in less time. A good rule of thumb is to do this alongside your weekly goal planning.

Once a week, do a brain dump. Write down everything you need to accomplish this week. Then, take a look at your tasks through the lens of achieving your goals, and start ranking those tasks by priority.

Assign a letter to everything on your list:

  1. Urgent & Important (do first)
  2. Not Urgent but Important (do later)
  3. Urgent but Not Important (delegate)
  4. Not Urgent & Not Important (eliminate)

Once you evaluate your tasks, you’ll have a crystal clear idea of what will help you accomplish your goals and where you should focus your energy.

3) Block Out Time for Similar Tasks

Entrepreneur planning daily schedule on computer
Entrepreneur planning daily schedule on computer

Without a structure for your schedule, even your highest priority projects don’t have consistent room for execution. It’s a slippery slope to falling behind and missing your goals. A simple trick is to use block scheduling to group similar tasks into one single batch throughout the week. For example, instead of emailing prospects randomly throughout the week, schedule a 2-hour block twice a week to focus on business development.

By planning your week ahead of time, you can identify common tasks, estimate how much time those will take and plug those into your calendar, just like you would a meeting or event.

The tricky part is finding a groove that works for you. Understand how you work so you can schedule tasks based on when you will be most productive. You will also need to be mindful of deadlines. Keep your priority list in mind when carving out your blocks, and try to schedule time-sensitive items early on in the week.

4) Give Yourself Space for Interruptions

Entrepreneur conducting business call in office
Entrepreneur conducting business call in office

Regardless of how meticulous you plan, life will find a way to throw a wrench into your plans. A good rule of thumb is to plan time in your calendar for things to go awry. At Cultivate, we call it slush time. Slush time is time you block off in your schedule for all of life’s little hiccups. Consider starting with an hour of slush time every day. Then, when something comes up, for example, someone comes to you with a problem, you have some wiggle room in your calendar.

5) Close Your Email!

Entrepreneur closing laptop in home office
Entrepreneur closing laptop in home office

Once you have your plan, try to start your day by looking at your calendar first, before diving into emails. The easiest way to waste a day is to spend all day on email. Circling back to your block schedule, schedule a block of time to focus on emails. This allows you to manage your emails versus your emails managing you.

Utilize the 2 minutes rule. As you check your emails during your email block, first look at the emails oldest to newest. If you can respond or take action in under 2 minutes, do the email immediately. If it needs more time, schedule time in your calendar to handle it. (This is an excellent use of slush time).

Note: Need to know how much time to schedule using the 2-minute method? Let’s assume 50% of your emails can be done in 2 minutes or less and  50% need to be scheduled. That averages to 90 seconds per email. Multiply the number of emails you get per day by 90 and voila, you have your number for how many minutes per day to spend on email.

Maximize your workday by incorporating these techniques and developing these habits over time. Remember, persistence is key. By continuing to organize, plan, and prepare, you will begin to see the difference.

Have anymore tips on how to maximize your productivity? Leave us a comment down below.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.