For decades, we spend more of our time working than we do nearly anything else. And yet, have you ever had a day where you felt like you didn’t do enough?
Eight hours a day, five days a week, can seem like an eternity on paper, but we all have times when we get distracted or feel less productive than we could be.
Here are some tips and tricks to try to maximize your time every day:
1. Start your morning by prioritizing
Write a list of your three most important tasks. Put the list in a prominent place on your desk where it’s clearly in sight at all times. Write a clear description of each task, as specific as possible while also being concise. This will help you stay focused on those items, and the description will serve as a reminder of what needs to be done and why.
2. Set an email alarm
It’s so easy to get distracted by email, checking it every few minutes to make sure nothing is missed. But that also makes email a huge time thief. Instead, set alarms to check email once every so often — maybe once an hour? — to ensure you’re staying on top of your inbox but not letting it get in the way of your other work.
3. Organize, organize, organize
How does your desk look? Are there papers everywhere, or is it neat and clean? Eliminate superfluous paper, knick-knacks, and other items that lead to clutter and streamline your workflow in the process. You’ll also feel less stressed if you can see all that’s sitting in front of you, instead of wondering where that report went.
4. Schedule fewer meetings, but make them more impactful
This could sound revolutionary, but meetings don’t often produce immediate results. They demand time away from working on the project at hand. Many meetings could be condensed into an email or two, saving everyone time. Instead, only schedule meetings when something is of the most urgent topic, and even then, keep it short and keep it focused.
5. Become comfortable saying ‘No.’
This is another revolutionary strike, but one worth taking. There comes a time when you’ll have to say no to helping someone out to get your priorities done. It’s ok. Be polite but firm but not apologetic. The more work you take on from other people, the less time you have for your priorities. If the request comes from your direct manager or supervisor, listen to the request, then ask politely, which item off your list should be deprioritized to accommodate the request.
6. Find your groove
Unless you have to have complete silence to concentrate, a little background music can help you focus on tasks at hand. There are websites and playlists explicitly designed to help convey a sense of calm and improve foster concentration, but if there’s a band or genre that you love to listen to at home because it enables you to unwind, see if that same band helps you at work.
7. Set limits for routine tasks and make them simpler
We lose so much time completing mundane tasks that there must be a more natural way to get them done. Can you set up an email template, or a prototype checklist, for messages or tasks you have to write out daily? Taking a few minutes now to set it up will save you minutes every week, and hours every year.
8. Use a password manager
The next time you have to change a password, let your browser establish a complex random code, then save it. You won’t have to remember it ever again. Then go online and find a password manager that will automatically store and retain your passwords on all your devices. It’s a “set it and forget it” tool that will help you from trying to remember the code for every website you use.
All of these little tips can add up to big-time savings over the long run. All of that time is a gift you’ve given yourself, in addition to reducing stress and helping to maintain those important priorities.
Connect with LeadingEdge Personnel
Want more advice like this? Contact LeadingEdge today! We’re eager to help you make the most of your career while helping to keep your eyes on the daily work prize.