A question that is asked over and over again, is how people can better manage their time for maximum productivity. The truth of the matter is, it isn’t time you need to manage– time happens with or without productivity– what you need to manage is your energy and your focus. Energy and focus are the two elements within your control, and the key to maximum productivity is to discover the cycle and times of when you can most utilize these skills. You should view your energy and focus as finite concepts, and take the time to think about the things that are most important, and which deserve your time and energy.

Once you determine these things, schedule and structure your time. Place the important but not urgent things into your calendar; by keeping things important, they will be complete before they can get to the stressful level that “urgent” implies. So what to do with the other tasks that need doing, but aren’t quite of the same importance level and tend to be time suckers? Things like checking your email can eat up valuable time, and often times we get caught up giving tasks like this more time than is actually needed. Try checking your email only at the top of every hour, and stick to that. Let employees and clients know when you are available to be reached, and stick to those portions of time. It can take getting used structuring your time in such a strict way, but the structure will help prevent you from getting distracted and tangenting onto something unimportant or irrelevant to your agenda. If an interruption happens that cannot be sidelined, give that task or person a specific amount of allotted time, and then resume your schedule as normal.

If you struggle or have an off day, be easy on yourself; remember that you are human, and that life happens. Allow time to relax and be frustrated, you are not a machine after all. What matters is that you are making a conscious effort to be more productive. Finding a balance with work and play is just as important as keeping your work hours productive.