Time-management tips for working smarter, not harder

As a hard-working professional, you’re so busy you probably don’t even have time to read this post. But here’s why you should:

With some tweaks to your time-management tactics, you can stop feeling overworked and overwhelmed and start gaining some much-needed control in the office.

Let’s take a few minutes (just a few!) to explore some valuable tips and tricks:

Did you know … 43% of Americans consider themselves disorganized, and 21% have missed vital work deadlines? Nearly half say disorganization forces them to work late at least two times a week.

What you can do:

  • Write everything down. Don’t keep your to-do list bottled up inside. Write everything down and post your list in a highly visible place on your desk.

  • Prioritize your tasks. Put your to-do list in order, with the most important tasks at the top of the list. Knowing your priorities will help you focus more on what matters and less on what could wait until later.

  • Group like tasks together. It’s easier and faster to do similar jobs while you’re in that particular mental mode. Read and answer email in batches; make several phone calls at one sitting; allocate part of the day for writing and editing reports.

  • Just do it. If something on your to-do list can be completed within two minutes, do it right then and there. Completing the easiest tasks first will quickly eliminate tasks from your list and make you feel like there’s less on your plate.

  • Find your best time to work. Everyone has a part of the day where they get the most done in the least amount of time. Work on the most important tasks during the time of the day when you are most productive. You’ll produce better work, faster.

  • Take a break. Give yourself a break from time to time. When you start feeling stressed or tired, get up and take a walk. Whether it’s to the break room or around the building, a quick walk will help clear your mind and improve your personal productivity back at your desk. 

Did you know … On a typical day, office workers are interrupted about seven times an hour (or 56 interruptions day), 80% of which are considered trivial?

What you can do:

  • Guard yourself. Avoid distractions at all cost. Shut the door to your office, schedule a meeting with yourself or put on headphones to block out any unnecessary distractions. 

  • Build in some “buffer time.” Inserting a few minutes of buffer time between scheduled meetings and tasks helps you deal with emergencies and interruptions without falling too far behind.

  • Anticipate and avoid time-wasting encounters. This means, for example, holding stand-up meetings that discourage people from hanging out afterward; meeting with colleagues in their work area, which makes it easier to depart; setting up a prearranged signal to have an assistant interrupt a long-winded visitor or telephone caller; and using a vacant office or other space to do important work without being interrupted.

  • Manage the email onslaught. Consider turning off the email notification feature, check email only when you’re ready (and at set times of the day) and manage client and coworker expectations regarding your response (a 24-hour turnaround time is acceptable in most cases.) In more demanding situations, simply let the emailer know you got the message and are working on an answer/response.

  • Be aware. Do your best to focus on one task at a time and to fully engage in the activity. The more “centered” and less distracted you are, the more you will be able to accomplish.


1 comment:

Rick said...

One other point to consider is to let the people you work with (Boss, co-workers, team members, support staff, etc.)know you are working on managing your time better. This will help you and them understand if your response time and methods are changing and ultimately improving your effectiveness. They may also offer some helpful suggestions from a different perspective.


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