As life gets faster and faster, workloads get bigger and longer. Many professionals – whether they work for an employer or for themselves – are finding that there are too many projects to do and not enough time to complete it all. Feeling the time crunch and not accomplishing everything that you want to leads to working longer hours, working weekends, and skipping lunch breaks.This in turn leads to stress, anxiety, fatigue, and decreased productivity at the office.
There are, however, things you can do to take control of your time and your schedule, and create more productive and efficient workdays.
1. Create a To-Do List that Works for You:
Many people use to-do lists to keep track of all your tasks. You can add a few easy elements to your list in order to increase productivity and be clearer on what you can accomplish on a given day.
- Update Your To-Do List Daily:Take just 5-10 minutes each day to track the status of your projects as well as provide clarity on what needs to get done.
- Break down each project into sub-actions:When you break down projects into smaller tasks, they become more manageable, and you can allot a realistic time frame for getting the project completed. For example, if you need to send out a marketing email, break that up into: a) Write email draft, b) edit email text, c) layout email, and d) send.
- Cross completed tasks off your list: There are few things more satisfying than crossing a completed task off your list. This will help you stay organized as well as give you an opportunity to acknowledge yourself for the hard work you’ve done (acknowledging yourself is another great tool to stay time-efficient and motivated!).
2. Know Your Priorities:
When you are unclear on your day’s priorities, critical tasks often get left for later and easier tasks are done first. Number your To-Do list in order of importance and execute each task based on your list.
3. Estimate How Much Time You Need:
If you don’t know how much time a particular project or task will take you, then it becomes difficult to know how much you can really accomplish in a day. Once you break your projects down into sub-actions (see above), you can better estimate how much time each sub-action or task will take.
It’s also wise to add about 20% contingency onto any time estimate.For example, if you think that writing a brief presentation will take about 1 hour, allot yourself 1 hour and 10 minutes.
4. Manage Your Email Usage
Email is a fantastic tool that at its best helps us communicate quickly and efficiently. However, often we get stuck in a habit of incessantly checking our emails or using email for personal instead of professional use at the office. This can add minutes, if not hours, onto your workdays.
- Eliminate Personal Emails from Your Work Day:Send all personal emails to a separate personal email account that you check either outside of work hours or once during the day.
- Limit Your Professional Email Usage: Instead of checking your email each time a new message appears in your inbox, set aside certain times during the day that you read and respond to emails. You’ll be surprised at how much time you gain!
5. Take a Lunch Break
When we have a lot to do, it sometimes seems we should just skip lunch and keep on working. In actuality, this strategy works against us. When you take adequate breaks, you have a chance to re-charge and then return to your projects with more energy and enthusiasm. To recharge efficiently, eat lunch away from your desk and take a few minutes during your break to stretch your legs or even better – take a walk outside.
These are starter tips to help save you time and energy – enjoy!