Time management techniques for delivery focused contractors

What does it mean to be a successful contractor? Work, work and more work? Or work, but still having enough time to relax, improve personally and professionally, have fun…?

To be successful means to have it all. You can achieve that by becoming more productive and managing your time.

Everything is about time – there is a limited amount of time in each day and week and you will have to manage it in a way to successfully finish your work, rest and relax, learn and spend some time with friends and family.

And there are some time management techniques to help you get there.

1. Eat the biggest frog first

Mark Twain said: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

The philosophy behind this is to do the biggest and most important and difficult task first, than the rest of the day will be easy. You will feel successful, victorious and you’ll finish easier tasks more efficiently. There will be no pressure for the rest of the day.

To identify your top priority tasks, check to-do list and categorize your tasks:

  • “A” for must be done today
  • “B” for should be done today or soon
  • “C” for need to be done at some point

First thing in the morning finish the most challenging tasks and have a stress free rest of the day.

2. Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Technique got its name from its developer Francis Cirillo, based on tomato shaped kitchen timer he used.

Basically, Pomodoro Technique mixes phases of concentrated work with short breaks.

You should set a timer for 25 minutes and spend it focused on work without any distraction. This is perfect amount of time to get some work done and not feel too tired. When time is up, take a short 5-10 minutes break, giving your brain some rest.

Repeat the cycle working on the same task or something else from your to-do list.

Do as many cycles as you can, focusing on the most important tasks first.

You can make one longer break during your working hours.

3. 90-90-1 rule – Focus on one goal at a time

The rule is simple – commit the first 90 minutes of the day, for 90 days at 1 most important task.

This will help you focus your priorities before the day even begins, according to Robin Sharma.

Also, you are not spending the whole day on one single thing.

4. Set Time Limits

When you set a limited time for finishing a task you will force your brain to be more focused and you’ll become more productive and complete it faster.

Even if you don’t have deadline for specific task, reduce the time you normally need to get it done and work hard to finish it.

When you do that, your brain has a sense of urgency and you become more focused and more efficient.

5. Eliminate distractions

It is really easy to get distracted these days. Some studies shows that you’ll need more than 20 minutes to get back on task after being distracted.

When completely focused on task you’ll need less time to finish it.

To manage this, follow few simple rules before starting work:

  • turn off all notifications on your phone, computer, and tablet
  • turn off internet connection when you don’t need it for work
  • shut the office door, even if it is your living room
  • if anything interesting comes to your mind, just leave it for later
  • put your phone away…

…and do everything else you can to prevent being distracted while working.

Use breaks to check phone calls, messages, social media…

6. Make Quick Decisions 

Making decisions is something we face every day. There are hundreds little, medium and big decisions. The most of them are not important, they are small every day decisions without much impact on our life.

The key to success is to identify the big and important decisions and focus on them.

Suzy Welch in her “10–10–10: A Life-Transforming Idea” presents a simple decision-making system.

When you have a decision to make, ask yourself the following three questions:

  • How will I feel about this decision 10 minutes from now?
  • How will I feel about it 10 months from now?
  • How will I feel about it in 10 years from now?

One great time management technique is to make quick decisions on things that don’t matter much. Make small decisions in less than 60 seconds. You’ll train your brain and you won’t waste your time for unimportant decisions anymore.

7. 2-Minute Rule

“2-Minute Rule” comes from David Allen and it’s a great way to help you overcome procrastination and get things done.

You can use it both in your personal and professional life.

There are two parts to the “2-Minute Rule”:

Part 1: If it can be done in two minutes, just do it. Don’t add it to your to-do list, leave it for later, or delegate to someone else. Just do it.

There are many tasks you can do in two minutes or less and if you leave all of them for later you’ll get overloaded with small tasks.

Part 2: If it takes more than two minutes, start it. Decide you’ll work on it for two minutes. It will help you beat the procrastination and you’ll find yourself working on task.

8. Take Advantage of Gap Time

There is a lot of time during the day we lose. While traveling to the work, or wait for something, time between tasks, breaks in the schedule… We have between 1 and 3 hours of gap time every day.

You can use this time for some little tasks and things, such as learning, reading, planning your day or week, making phone calls, take a walk, clear your mind… or just sleep.

This way you can get more things done and save some time for family or fun after work.

9. Track Your Time

To manage your time better you should know exactly how much time you spend on each task. You can try to estimate and guess, but this usually is not correct.

There are different apps to help you track time, or you can just measure it yourself, but do this few weeks. Analyse the results and you’ll start seeing patterns and find out where your time goes.

Use it to plan next week, trying to eliminate leaks and you’ll notice your productivity improves.