Three Time Management Habits to Boost Productivity

Do It Now

By: Jamie Davis, CVPM & VGP Practice Coach

As we chase the carrot of productivity into a new year, it is time to review what you’ve been doing and what new habits to build. After all, if you continue to do things the way you always have, you are assured to get the same results. If frustration is building over your day flying past you and, despite being busy you didn’t get much accomplished, then consider these three time management habits to help boost your productivity.

Get information out of your head

Whether you choose to write things down by hand or type them out, getting information from thoughts to a formed written idea improves productivity. Why? Well for one, it frees up space in your brain to allow for higher-level thinking. Your brain no longer has to hold on to the information for fear of forgetting it. How many of you have forgotten to pick up milk at the store on your way home because you had so many things on your mind? Free up that space!

Writing down thoughts, tasks and ideas also allow new perspectives as well as the ability to organize and batch certain tasks. Imagine your ideas on sticky notes (which is a time management technique called Kanban Boards) where you can easily group things that go together and even eliminate things that are redundant or no longer needed.

Finally, this will allow you to ‘rehydrate’ ideas later. Maybe you had a really great idea for a new marketing campaign for a seasonal need like heartworm prevention or skin allergies, but you were in the wrong season when you had the idea. Instead of filing it away in your brain, you can put that idea down in writing and put it in a ‘parking lot’. You not only free up your mind for other processes but you won’t forgot that amazing idea you had. Then when the time comes you can ‘rehydrate’ it and bring it to the list of current project development.

Stop multitasking

If I had a nickel for every time I saw ‘ability to multitask on a job description or advertisement. We need to stop glorifying this ability. By listing this as a desired trait or setting this up as an expectation, we are setting ourselves up for the opposite of what we are trying to achieve and damaging our future selves.

The true meaning of the word ‘multitask’ is that you are performing more than one task at the same time. However, humans are designed to be monotaskers, meaning we can only focus on one task at a time. A study found that just 2.5% of people can multi-task effectively, which means the rest of us that think we are multi-tasking are instead doing individual actions in rapid succession, called task-switching (The Science Is Clear: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work, 2017). This practice doesn’t allow the brain to dedicate the same focus to the task, leading to errors or inability to complete it. We also can’t complete as many tasks because task-switching slows down our efficiency.

The most damaging of multi-tasking is on media. As we bounce around from one digital source to another, as is the frequent case with social media, we could be doing damage. Studies have found that multitasking on media can reduce the brain’s grey matter in areas related to cognitive control and regulation of motivation and emotion. Other studies have also found increases in stress, depression, and social anxiety as well as decreases in working memory and long-term memory (10 Real Risks of Multitasking, to Mind and Body, 2016).

Rule your technology, don’t let it rule you

This last tip comes from Franklin Covey’s “The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity”. We live in an age where not only do we desire everything at our fingertips but demand it! These resources have many benefits but come with their own share of drawbacks. In order to get the most out of technology, we have to remember that WE are the gatekeepers and need to see to it that our use of technology is intentional and well-managed.

Start by creating a list of all your technology tools. This exercise takes us back to the benefit of writing things down to organize and batch. Your list will include all the tools you currently use. This list can include PMS, social media, online organizational systems, and more. Once you have your list, you can evaluate it for redundancies and need. If the technology aids in the completion of your goals, keep it. If not, eliminate it. If you have tools that do the same things (redundant) you can combine or eliminate one or more of the tools.

Next, you will evaluate these for disruptions and time-wasting. This is most common with online technology resources like social media but can also happen with email programs and chat centers. The reason for this disruption is that they have notification systems and other methods to draw you into the technology. Thus, making it harder to ignore and plan your attentive time working with the tool. Review each program and its functions that allow you to utilize the features most effectively. Complete this step by adjusting notification settings to OFF or setting them to ON during your select times of day that you will be addressing those tasks.

As with any new habits, you’ll need to practice to make progress. I recommend taking each of these practices and dedicating a full month to their integration into your current routine. Implement a new strategy each month to improve your overall time management for a more productive 2023!

About the author

Jamie has worked in the veterinary industry since high school and enjoyed over two decades of practice management before joining the VGP team as a practice coach. A self-proclaimed life-long learner, she is always looking to expand her knowledge and bring value to our members.

10 Real Risks of Multitasking, to Mind and Body. (2016). Psychology Today.
The Science is Clear: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work. (2017, June). Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic; Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic.’t-work/‌