How To Maximize your productivity using a FREE time management tool
Reasons I started using a time management tool
I believe time management is crucial for working from home. I’ve been using a free time management tool called Kanban Flow for two years now, and it’s helping me tremendously.
As a university student, I had tons of assignments and exams constantly. Also, I started studying programming to be a software engineer when I was in third-year at university. So, things were chaotic, and I had to manage my time very well.
I got to know about Kanban Flow from a book called “SOFT SKILLS – The software developer’s life manual.” This tool is based on a method called the Kanban method, which Toyota developed. Toyota created the kanban method to visualize the manufacturing work-in-process and maximize productivity at Toyota’s car factories.
The author of SOFT SKILLS says he tried many kinds of management tools, and he liked Kanban Flow the best, so I decided to give it a try.
Benefits of managing time for working from home
According to Seattle University, you can benefit from 5 things from time management, and I want to introduce 3 benefits.
1. Overcome indecisiveness
We have too many tasks to get done with limited personnel and time nowadays, which makes us overwhelmed in deciding which tasks to start.
By managing time, we can set our own deadlines and achieve smaller accomplishments towards finishing off a big project. As a result, it will help us save time from not overthinking small issues.
Recently, I felt so overwhelmed from managing Pinterest for my blog, and I decided to focus on what I can do this week, next week, and this month. If you focus on final achievement and compare where you are now, it gets extremely overwhelming. That’s where time management can help us 🙂
2. Improve Your Work, Improve Your Confidence
When we think about time management, we often think “getting more things done.” Seattle University suggests we should care more about quality over quantity.
If we focus more on quality, we will be able to showcase our best work. As a result, we will receive more positive attention from our coworkers and boss.
3. Care for your mind and body
If we try to get everything done, we will be physically and mentally drained, so we need to prioritize some time for our overall health. Time management isn’t just for work tasks. We need to block time for personal care breaks, which will lead to better productivity in the end.
I was in charge of a new project three years ago at a fitness magazine company, and I was working 24/7. My body was constantly in pain, and I had to go to physiotherapy twice a week. Still, my body was constantly hurting, and there were even some days I couldn’t get up because of back pain
Pain Management and Injury Relief explains how pain effects productivity
When our work is putting strain on the body, our productivity declines, when we are committed to doing a good job, we push through the pain and start to feel even worse because we can?t complete our tasks to the best of our potential.
It’s easier to recover if you pause your work here and there to stretch rather than trying to complete your work until your pain is unbearable. You may finish your work, but it will affect your overall productivity the next day or the entire week.
By using a time management tool like Kanban Flow, you will be forced to take a break to do some easy stretches or meditation. Read my blog post if you are interested in building some healthy habits for working from home 🙂
What is Kanban Flow?
It’s a FREE time management tool and it uses “the Pomodoro technique” developed by Francisco Cirillo and Kanban method developed by Toyota.
I studied business at university, and I analyzed a lot about Toyota, especially Toyota’s Kanban method. Toyota created the kanban method to visualize the manufacturing work-in-process and maximize productivity at their car factories. In this way, Toyota can deliver cars to their customers as quickly and cheaply as possible.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s when he was a university student. He often felt overwhelmed and struggled to focus on his university studies. So he challenged himself to commit 10 minutes for his study. It perfectly worked for him, so he decided to name this technique “Pomodoro Technique,” inspired by a tomato-shaped kitchen timer he had nearby (Pomodoro is tomato in Italian).
How can we benefit from the Kanban method?
1. Prevent procrastination
According to Psychology today, we tend to procrastinate
- When we have a lack of structure
- When we have to face unpleasant tasks
- When we feel anxious about a big/long-term task
Using the Kanban method, we can make a structure, and we can focus on a task for the next 25 minutes. By finishing off one Pomodoro(25 minutes), we get one step closer to our bigger goal, and we can celebrate a small achievement.
2. Avoid distraction
University of California, Irvine study shows half of the distractions in one day is caused by ourselves including emails and social network. This means not only we are losing time, but also we are using extra energy when getting back to work from whenever we are distracted by.
3. We can know how much time we spend on a specific task
By using Kanban Flow, you will be able to estimate how much time you need to complete tasks. In this way, it will get easier for you to schedule your day. It’s ok not knowing how much time you may need for some tasks when you just started using Kanban Flow 🙂
How I use Kanban Flow
I created a video to help you set up your Kanban Flow.
You can create your account from here ? https://kanbanflow.com
1. Plan the tasks you want to complete on the following week at the end of the week and write them down on paper
2. Schedule tasks a day before on Kanban Flow
3. Focus on one task during the 25 minute period. Then take a 5 minute break.
4. To reach maximum productivity, you should get rid of as many destractions as you can (ask your partner not to talk to you, don’t look at your phone, focus on the current task)
How to choose tasks for the day
We tend to say “I’m busy”, “I don’t have time for this..”, but I think it happens because we are not prioritizing the right task. In this section, I want to show you how I pick important tasks and schedule them on Kanban Flow every day.
1. Know your goal and make it your priority
It’s important to know your goal to prioritize tasks for today, this week, and this month.
Take a moment and write down 3 goals in your life. It can be anything! (Relationships, health, fitness, work, friendship, study). Try to be specific, like what I wrote below (I want to …… to/for something).
2. Pick urgent tasks to work on today and this week
We have so many things to do, and each task has a different priority. So, let’s pick what you want to work on this week and write it down on paper. Once you know what you want to work on this week, you can divide it into daily tasks and schedule the Kanban Flow.
3. Add your miscellaneous tasks to Kanban Flow to reach your personal goal
Now let’s add tasks you want to work on today based on the goals you chose on Kanban flow into daily tasks. Once you add your work tasks, you should add miscellaneous tasks on Kanban Flow.
This is my usual schedule. You can see I have “go to a supermarket”, “upper body stretch”, “10 minutes butt exercise”, and ” cook for tomorrow”. It’s important to have those tasks on your Kanban Flow to reach your goals. My goals are to stay healthy, stay active, and stay calm, so I schedule tasks based on my goals!
4. Be flexible
Maybe this is the most important tip for choosing tasks. Please don’t feel bad about yourself when you can’t finish all the tasks. When you can’t finish all the tasks you scheduled, you can always try to find time on the following day or the next week.
I realized it’s important not to put the maximum amount of tasks on the Kanban Flow. I also found it helpful to schedule 70-80% of the tasks I think I can finish for the day.
I’m still experimenting with this tool, and it may also be a good idea to block 30 minutes a day for the tasks that may come up unexpectedly. In this way, you won’t be frustrated and feel upset with not fitting everything into your schedule.
Tips to not feel too overwhelmed from work
Even if we schedule our day nicely, we still get overwhelmed from work, and I want to give you some tips you can try!
When I get overwhelmed, my mind gets super busy, and it’s hard to keep working on tasks or organize my thoughts. When it happens, I open my meditation app and meditate for 4-5 minutes.
2. Write down on a notepad what you are feeling anxious/overwhelmed about
After I meditate, I write down what I’m feeling overwhelmed about. When I write down a list of what I’m feeling overwhelmed about, I can usually organize my thoughts and come back to work. Harvard Business Review backs up my theory that how “writing down our thoughts” is helpful when we feel overwhelmed from tasks.
3. Write down your weekly schedule and pin it on your desk
On top of Kanban Flow, I write down my weekly schedule and pin it in front of my laptop. I usually write down my work tasks, and it makes me feel good when I look at the schedule because I can see I’m on the right path and working towards my goal.
I showed how you could use Kanban Flow effectively to maximize your productivity, but you don’t need to follow everything I mentioned. You can always experiment yourself and see what works for you! 🙂