Organizing Your Life: Time Management (Getting More Done) | Taylor Bruno | Skillshare

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Organizing Your Life: Time Management (Getting More Done)

teacher avatar Taylor Bruno, Organization Aficionado

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Context Switching


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Coordinating with Others


    • 6.

      Breaking the Rules


    • 7.



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About This Class

Time management is at the core of productivity. The one limited resource that everyone has in common is time. Learning to manage your time effectively will help you stay focused, get more done, and lead a more successful life. In this class, I’ll cover common time bandits like email, context switching, and ever-growing to do lists and some ways to address them through behavior changes, calendar tactics, and various tools. This class will be useful for both business and personal time management.

I am a software designer and organization is my life. I use a number of tools and methods to keep track of business projects as well as my personal life. I genuinely think the world would be a better place if everyone had better organization and I’m here to show you how!

Time Management is the key focus of this class, and while it builds on some of my other classes, it is not necessary to watch those first. This course will teach valuable skills to help you more efficiently get things done. If you’re interested in using Asana, a project management tool, to manage your to do lists or learning some shortcuts and other tips to use Google Chrome more efficiently, check out my other classes on Skillshare by clicking on my profile.

To learn more about me, visit:

Meet Your Teacher

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Taylor Bruno

Organization Aficionado


I am a software designer at Netflix and organization is my life. I use the productivity tools to keep track of business projects and my personal life. I genuinely think the world would be a better place if everyone had better organization!

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and using the tools and methods I teach about, we managed our own 4-month home renovation with a team of contractors and we host elaborate dinner parties, themed TV premier parties, and game nights.

I'm always up for an organizational challenge or a good cup of tea, so feel free to reach out with any questions!


Check out my website to learn more about me and to subscribe to my mailing list to be notified when I publish new classes and share other organization ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: everyone. Welcome to organizing your life with time management. Time management is at the core productivity, and the one limited resource that everyone has in common is time learning to manage your time effectively will help me stay focused, get more done and lead to a more successful life. In this class, I'll cover common time bandits like email, contact, switching and ever growing to do lists, as well as some ways to address them through behavioral changes, calendar tactics and various other tools. Someone once said, until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else. Someone else said. Being busy isn't the same as being effective, and these are ultimately true. For all of time management, time management can truly affect all aspects of your life and is important for anyone to understand. This class is particularly useful for busy employees, freelancers, juggling projects and clients, employees juggling families and five projects as well as anyone at home simply looking for tips on how they can better manage their own time. I'm a software designer, and organization is my life. I use a number of tools and methods to keep track of business projects and my own personal life, and I genuinely think the world would be a better place if everyone has better organization . This class is part of my Siri's called Organizing Your Life, where I cover various topics from tools you can use to manage your to do lists toe how to more efficiently used tools that we all use everyday, Like Google Chrome. You can check out my other crosses in my profile. Time management is the key focus of this class, and while a build on some of my other classes, it's not necessary to watch them first. This class will teach valuable skills to help you more visually get things done if you're interested in using asana, which is a project management tool to manage your to do lists or learning some shortcuts and other tips to use Google Chrome more efficiently, check out my other classes on skill shared by clicking on my profile. Now if you're ready, let's begin 2. Email: Let's face it, we're all guilty of being ruled by our email inboxes. Most of us could spend their entire day seeing a new email, come in, taken action on it and return to the inbox only to find new emails in the queue. On top of that, we're constantly interrupted throughout the day by colleagues, meetings, friends and family via text or otherwise on more, which leads us to switch context. Frequently been spent a lot of mental effort trying to refocus after each interruption. How are we expected to get anything done when we always feel underwater? Let's tackle is from the beginning email. The first up to managing our email is to manage check in frequency. Now, as I mentioned, we could probably all sit in her inbox is every day with new emails constantly flowing in. But in reality it doesn't take that much time to answer email. So what we're gonna dio first is try to set a check in frequency. You don't need to check your email constantly. If you're really, really bombarded by email, maybe even try checking your email once an hour or every two hours or four hours. Work your way up and find out what frequency works best for you. If you don't trust yourself to be able to not look at your email, you can use a tool called Boomerang Pause. Clicking the pause button. Once installing the application essentially pauses e mails from entering your inbox. They'll still be there, and you can un posit any time. But this simply prevents them from showing up in your inbox so that you won't be tempted by checking your email. Now people might have heard of inboxes. Euro. This should always be the goal. Using your inbox like your to do Q is very useful. But many of us have thousands of unready males. You should always be working towards having an inbox with zero on read emails. Try to make an effort to read all of your emails so that managing your emails in the future becomes much less of a burden. You might need to dedicate a few hours to going through emails the first time around, but after that it will be much easier to manage email. This brings me to my next point, which is using an unsubscribe mentality when always tracking your email. You should always be thinking. Can I unsubscribe from this email? Is this adding anything to my life? Do I really need this? We all have subscriptions to things, and some things may not even know where subscribed to. This can include anything from shopping websites to news articles, two newsletters and other mailers. But having all of these subscriptions in your life isn't necessarily adding anything to it and is definitely taking your time and mental energy to check those emails. Gmail makes this very easy to unsubscribe from Once you open one of those emails that's a subscription. Near the header, you'll see the word unsubscribe. This prevents you from having to dig through the email to find the microscopic text at the bottom of the email that says, unsubscribe me and does the work for you by putting it at the top of the email. Using these key tactics when checking your email will significantly cut down on waste of time. I encourage everyone to especially used the unsubscribe mentality and always trying to get to inbox zero. But as we know, email is not the only problem stealing our time. Let's talk next about context, switching 3. Context Switching: contact. Switching is the act of being interrupted, whether it's by yourself or some external party understanding. What context switching is and the true costs of it well, help us understand how we can prevent context switching from happening as much as possible . Let's talk first of the cost of context. Switching. According to Fast company, 82% of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. However, it takes 23 minutes to get back to each of those tasks that has been interrupted. Think about how many times you've been interrupted throughout the day and add up how much time has been wasted on trying to refocus your mental energy and get back into the task at hand. That's a lot of wasted time that can be spent more effectively now. The first argument to this might be, well, multitasking is effective. I can get more done this way. Studies have shown that multitasking isn't actually effective by spending our time on multiple things simultaneously. We're not fully engaging with the material at hand, So if you find yourself multi tasking, ask yourself why for me, I know sometimes it's because my computer doesn't work as fast as my brain, I open a new browser window or a new application, and I see the loading symbol Well, if it takes more than a few seconds, I'm going to switch to another tab and continue reading an article or doing something else that I was doing before. And this is bad if you can at all prevent this from happening by getting a faster computer , clearing up some space on your computer. In my case, this will help minimize those distractions and hopefully reduce the frequency of your multitasking. Another cause of multitasking could simply be boredom. I'm lucky enough to really enjoy what I do at work. So this is usually not the case of why I'm multitasking, but it can be a real problem. If you find that you're bored doing something, Ask yourself why you're doing it. Is this really necessary? Is it for your job? Is it something you need to do? Is there any way you can make what you need to do more interesting or break it down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish very quickly? Almost in game like fashion, boredom at work is a whole other subject in the whole another class that could be covered in another time. But for now, let's move on another way. We can help prevent multitasking and contact. Switching is by learning when you're most focused throughout the day. Plan your day around that, for example, are you most energized and focused in the mornings after you've had your coffee? Or do evenings after the kids go to bed? Make more sense for you? Try to understand when you're feeling most focused and try to plan your largest tasks around that time. This brings us to the next topic, which is organizing your to do lists by either effort, size, priority or category. So we just mentions that you should plan your largest or most complicated tasks around the time of day that you are most focused. This means we need to have an organized to do list. There are many ways you can organize it to do list, and you can experiment with which one of thes makes the most sense for you. For example, you could organize it to do list by effort, size something like taking the trash out is low effort and 10 takes very little time, something like writing a block post for planning a trip is a much larger task that would need much greater mental effort dedicated to it. You can organize your to do list by effort, size, and as you see the time you can pull in, task accordingly. We'll get more into this, and we talk about calendars. Another way you can organize your to do list is by priority. Sometimes something like taking the trash. Oh is high priority, even though it will take a short amount of time. You can also organize your to do list by category. For example, all of your online tasks can be grouped together well of your offline work or errands can be grouped in another category. That way you can know which of your tasks can happen at what time during the day. It's important to note that as you organize your to do list, you understand the difference between urgent and important Understanding. This difference, and experimenting with different ways of organizing your to do list will help you be on your way to having better time management. Next, let's talk about how to actually know when you are context. Switching on the screen. I'm showing an example of what a Tuesday might look like. That includes everything from waking up, going to the gym, showering, commuting and so on so forth. Try to keep a log for at least one day to understand where you're spending your time. Include everything like side conversations with neighbours on your way out the door or checking the mail on your way back home. You can break the log down into 15 or 30 minute increments, or you can simply keep track of every task. Now, even this sample log is probably pretty light. There are a lot more things that have happened during this day that could be added to this . So understand what the right level of granularity is for you. Seeing all of the activity you take in a given day will really help you understand where your context switching and how many times during the day you're being interrupted. Lastly, keep it clean work space. Even having a simple need like finding a post it note pad or a pen can be context switching . If you need to drop what you're doing to go, walk around the office or your room to find something that's not currently on your desk that could bring on potentially time consuming context. Switching to keep a clean work space, Understand what your needs are that you might have during the day and try to keep everything you need on your desk so that you won't have to be interrupted to find something later. 4. Calendaring: next, let's talk about blocked time and calendar ring. Try to avoid interruptions in your day by blocking time on your calendar. Things like office hours and weekly catch up times can be very helpful for this. Let's take a look at the sample work week. I focus best in the morning after I've had my breakfast and my cup of tea so you can see that I've blocked off an hour and 1/2 almost every morning from 9 a.m. To 10 30 for focused work. I try to block this on my calendar so that people know that I'm generally heads down and not to interrupt if they can avoid it. I have found that I enjoyed taking meetings later in the afternoon after having lunch, for example. It's a bit harder for me to focus, so being in a meeting with other people can generally keep my attention more than me trying to focus myself. You'll also notice on Wednesday from 9 to 11 I haven't office hours meeting. You need to communicate this out to your coworkers that, if at all possible, using this block of time for questions and things that come up would be most useful to you . This doesn't mean that you have to sit around on your desk and wait for people to come to you, but that you won't be heads down and work an uninterruptible. You'll also notice from 1 to 4 p.m. On Thursday. I have a large block for weekly catch up. I use this time and blocked my calendar for anything that I had wanted to do during the week that I haven't gotten to yet. There is usually always something that needs to be done during the week, but I can use this time for having this block on your calendar. Every week, we'll help you dedicate a little bit more time to yourself and not get sucked into meetings . As un intuitive as it sounds, it's also important to take scheduled breaks. There's a lot of research around this, but generally speaking, taking a break every 90 minutes helps keep our brains extra fresh. In the previous example, I showed a sample week. The red blocks here indicate where you could take a break, and these definitely do not need to be scheduled. But this is a great way to show just how Maney breaks you might look to take in the day. Now these brakes don't have to be unproductive. During these breaks, you can do things like check your email, check your messaging platform like slack. Grab water, stand up, stretch a bit, get a snack. All of these things will help keep your mind focused and recharged for your next block of work. Google Calendar has a cool setting called speeding meetings. It's a configuration you confined in the settings menu when you clicked the gear icon. If you scroll down to where it says default event duration, you'll see that you can set your duration of meetings. I have minds up to 30 minutes, and right underneath that you'll see a check box that says speedy meetings. This encourages meeting efficiency and basically schedules the meeting to end a few minutes early so that you have time to get between meetings Now, as I had touched on before, it's important to try to do the most demanding and important tasks first during your focus time, whether that time is in the mornings, evenings or some other time in between. Just make sure that you start with the most important and large effort tasks first, Sometimes people refer to the rock and sand glass analogy. This picture you'll see the jar on the left has all the sand and at first and all of the rocks piled in afterwards. The sand represents the small tasks that are easy to dio and check off your list while the rocks represent the larger, harder to do tests. If you try to fit all of the materials into the glass by putting the sand first, they won't fit, however, in the glass on the right, you'll notice the rocks have gone in first and the sand easily filters in around it, enabling all of the materials to fit into the glass. If we go back to that calendar that I showed earlier, you'll notice there are a couple of unfortunate 30 minute breaks between meetings. These can be good and bad. I try to book all of my meetings as close together as possible so that there is minimal wasted time between meetings. But it's inevitable that there will be 30 minutes or even 15 minute blocks between things that you'll need to find something else to do. You can use thes short time blocks as a great way to check off the smaller, lower effort tasks on your to do list in 15 minutes, for example, you could get three things done on your to do list becomes shorter, but don't lose sight of trying to do the most important large effort tasks first. 5. Coordinating with Others: most of us working in an office environment are working with others were not working in a vacuum. And so all the things that we've mentioned before, like blocking off time on your calendar, being mindful of contact, switching uneven email are impossible to manage without communication with others. So the first thing I'm gonna point out is that you need to communicate your goals to your coworkers, communicating about office hours blocked time on your calendar and more will enable others to understand what types of goals you're trying to meet and how they can help you meet those goals. A simple conversation with your direct reports or people who may come up and talk to you, often explaining that you'd like to block off some of your time to dedicate to focus work would help you manage your time better. Next, you can try to encourage change in your organisation. Now this is obviously much harder than it sounds. But take Facebook, for example. At their headquarters. They have something called No meeting Wednesdays, where Wednesday is completely blocked off for focused work. This is a time where many people choose to work from home when they're not in meetings and need to be interacting with other people. It's a great way to ensure that employees have time to focus on dedicated solo work. Next, it's important to set and communicate meeting agendas and goals in any company. Meetings happen all the time, and I'm sure we've all been a part of poorly planned meetings that are a waste of time. You can add up the actual cost of an unorganized meeting by simply summing the hourly wages for everyone in the room. Now imagine you have a few people in the room and their hourly wage broken down is a scene on this slide. The actual cost of that meeting. If unproductive and wasteful, it's $610 plus any value that could have been created by these people Had they not been wasting their time in this meeting, it's important to set and communicate thes agendas and goals for any meeting to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly and that it is effective invaluable for everyone in the room. Whenever you get a meeting invite, ask yourself if it really is valuable for you to be in this meeting. If you can anticipate sitting in the corner, multi tasking and doing extra work on your computer during the meeting. Just don't go to the meeting. It's not helpful for you or the meeting organizer. This brings me to another point on meetings, which I'm sure I'll get to in another class at some point. But being focused on the meeting is extremely important. Not only is it disrespectful to the meeting host to be multi tasking on other things on your phone or your computer, but it's also disrespectful to yourself. If you truly finds that you I need to be somewhere else or doing other things, just simply leave the meeting. If you're going to participate actively in the meeting, close your computer, turn your phone over and focus solely on the conversation at hand and be an active participant. Lastly, help communicate these goals to others. You can use signals visual signals to notify others of your work status. Things like lights putting on big headphones for using paper signs on your desk and help alert others to when you can be interrupted. And when you're focusing on your work, many companies now sell little lights that can be attached to your computer or workspace that show green, blue or red green means come on over. I'm not working on anything that I need to be solely dedicated on essentially the equivalent of an office hour. Bread means I'm either on a phone call or in busy doing focused work, and I don't want to be interrupted. Blue can be whatever you want to set it to just ensure that the rest of your coworkers know what all of these different colors mean. Another way to visualize to others that you're busy is by using over the ear headphones. This visual signal that you are involved in your work will make any co worker who's attempting to reach you take a second toe. Ask themselves if they really need to interrupt you. So now we've covered a number of topics to help you manage your time better and be more efficient. But let's face it, we can't always follow the rules. We'll talk about that next 6. Breaking the Rules: Now we've covered a lot of important topics, and all of these things, I hope will help you be able to manage your time more efficiently on get more done throughout the day. But it's important to remember that it's okay to break the rules. All we can do is try to optimize the time when you're feeling most productive. When you're not feeling productive, just relax, go for a walk, play a game and take a break. When you're feeling tired, no, come back feeling more rejuvenated and will be able to be more productive. This can even go so far as leaving work early to taken up or relax at home so that the following day you can come back recharged and ready to go. Living a healthy lifestyle is obviously a bulky topic that has been covered extensively elsewhere. But there are a few things that will cover here that will help you on your way to living a healthy lifestyle and help you feel more mentally energized every day. Getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, exercising or doing some physical activity and relaxing mentally everyday are all a super important. The last one is a bit of a life hack Healthy Inning is a component found in green tea that helps extend the release of the caffeine, providing a study mental energy throughout the day and Zen like relaxation. They now sell Elle Fanning in capsule form and my husband's wears by it. He simply takes an elevating supplement about five or 10 minutes before drinking his cup of coffee, and he has extended his energy throughout the day. You can work consistently from about eight or 9 a.m. until nine or 10 p.m. At night, and it's been truly life changing for him. I myself drink green tea every day, so I get this selfie any naturally. But it's worth a try, and all of these things can help you to live a healthier lifestyle, enabling you to focus more and have better time management. 7. Summary: so that about wraps it up. We've covered minimizing email distractions in context, switching using your calendar effectively by blocking time on it, coordinating and communicating with others and breaking those rules. Because we all know we can't be productive all day, every day, forever and ever. I hope you found this course helpful and that there are things you could take away from the course to start using in your life. Today, productivity and time management are things that we can constantly be improving. So keep out and always drive to be more efficient. Finally, we'd love to hear from you. If you have any questions about particular issues you're seeing managing your own time that weren't covered in this class, let us know there may be others in the class who are experiencing similar things, and we can all benefit from sharing those with each other. I'm also happy to answer any questions and would love to hear any feedback you have, as I am always trying to improve myself. Thanks for spending your time with me and hope to see you again in the future.