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Time management 101: Boost your productivity

In a fast-paced and evolving industry like technology, it’s easy to get left behind. Managing your time effectively can be a daily struggle, with productivity being the first casualty of procrastination.

Sometimes you can work around deadlines. But most of the time, bad time keeping can see daily tasks being pushed further into the week, throwing even the most organized of calendars out of sync.

As a technologist you may have both the technical skills and experience to attract potential employers, but without the necessary time management skills, you could miss vital career opportunities. 

But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are some essential tips to help you improve your time management and productivity:

Don’t say ‘there isn’t enough time’

It is quality, not quantity of the time you spend on work, meetings or research. You can always make time for the projects that are essential to your career growth. “Quit saying you don’t have time” thought leader Bryant McGill once wrote “You have time for what you make time for in life.” You need to get comfortable with allocating time for the things that can help develop your knowledge and skills.

Prioritize!

With an array of new apps and technologies frequently hitting the market, it’s easy to get distracted from your daily goals. Technologists can often put all of their assigned tasks into a metaphorical bucket and work on them on a first-come, first-serve basis. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of working on assignments that interest you the most, and neglecting ones which have a strict deadline, or that aren’t as exciting.

What’s the most urgent task you must complete today? Is it the project you’re dreading or something you need to send to a colleague? Make sure it goes straight to the top of your to do list. The morning is when you have the most energy and focus to complete tasks. Also, if you finish an essential piece of work first, it helps to build momentum, so you can focus on things that interest. A gentle morning ritual can also help kickstart your day. Do 30 minutes of exercise to get your circulation flowing, and eat a healthy breakfast to ensure you have the energy for the tasks ahead.

Learn when to switch off

It’s tempting to stop whatever you’re doing to reply to some WhatsApp messages. Sometimes you need to focus without a flood of notifications pinging through your devices. If you’re in the middle of a project and don’t want to be disturbed, update your away status on any communication platforms – IM, email, Slack etc. so colleagues can see you’re busy. Switch off sounds and updates until your essential work is complete, and log out of any social media accounts. Once you’re free of any pressing tasks, you can enjoy – and appreciate – catching up with friends and colleagues.

Organize your habitat

Gretchen Rubin said ‘Outer order contributes to inner calm.’ The more streamlined your desk is, the more relaxed you are. And to paraphrase Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t spark joy, remove it from your working area. A sense of calmness and organization in your workspace can help boost your productivity.

Avoid multi-tasking

If you spread yourself too thin, the quality of your work deteriorates. Focus on one task at a time, giving it all your attention and energy.

Schedule breaks

Don’t burnout! You need time to recharge your batteries. Schedule breaks: Eat a healthy lunch, go for a walk, and ensure you rest your eyes from the glare of computer screens. Impose time limits on yourself so that your 5 minute coffee break doesn’t turn into 2 hours, or that you aren’t stuck at your desk for 8 hours straight. Regular short breaks enhance your focus, which contributes to your productivity.

Learn to say no…

Create boundaries and focus on the work you can achieve in a day, making sure to politely decline or postpone work that you can’t manage. If you say yes to every request, you’ll soon be overwhelmed with tasks that aren’t on your priority list. It is your responsibility to prioritize your own work first. But during quiet times, please do offer your help and expertise whenever feasible.

…but also remember to ask for help

Sometimes you might be that person in need of a colleague’s help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers for guidance, and be mindful of their own time. Asking for help and reciprocating improves your bond with your team and overall productivity.

Effective time management is an essential tool for any technologist. By making necessary improvements to your organization, you can help enhance your productivity – and jumpstart your career.

If you found this blog useful, check out our other blog posts for more essential insights!

Are you a developer interested in growing your software engineering career? Apply to join the Andela Talent Network today.

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