1. Think time!
Do you think about how long tasks take you? Dealing with emails, spending time on social media? Be conscious about the time you’re taking on things.
It’s always useful as you’re starting a task, asking is this the most effective thing I could be doing right now? Consider even using a timer to make you more aware of the time you’re spending.
Setting yourself deadlines can help you stay focused, including using SMART goals:
- Specific – have a clear but realistic view of what the objective is – don’t aim for perfect from the off
- Measurable – this makes sure what you’re doing is meaningful but also motivates you
- Achievable – think about what is acceptable, perfect doesn’t exist, just get started
- Realistic – if it isn’t, you won’t find it rewarding
- Timely – set a deadline
2. Give yourself a break.
Every minute counts, right? So this one sounds a little counter-productive. Psychology Today talk about some of the benefits of breaks:
- Movement breaks for physical and emotional health
- Avoiding decision fatigue
- Restoring motivation
- Increase productivity and creativity
- Consolidates memories and improves learning
You can read more about the benefits in more detail here.
As well as taking time away from your desk, exercise is said to help stimulate the mind and increase productivity. Whether it’s a walk or a gym session, getting that blood pumping could be just what you need to clear your head refocus.
And of course the most important break is when your eyes are shut. Sleep is important to health and well-being. Mind give some great tips on how important sleep is and how you can make the most of your shut-eye
3. The two minute rule
If you can get it done in under two minutes, get the task done and dusted there and then.
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski explains how it saves you time in the long run as you won’t have to revisit it later and think about it from scratch – remember though, only if it takes less than two minutes.
4. Learn to say no…
If you’re not clear about what you’re going to achieve from something, learn to say no. Meetings take up a lot of time. Some businesses have meetings about meetings. Before you book a meeting, consider whether you can achieve the same through an email, phone call or other means.
And if you think a meeting is best, consider a standing meeting – you’ll find people are much keener to get the meeting finished as well as people being more aware – some evidence also suggests they improve group performance.
5. One step at a time
Multi-tasking is a skill that eludes some of us. We should drop it though, trying to spin too many plates means you lose focus.
Create yourself a list and work through them one at a time. You’ll find rather than making a little progress on many things, you make great progress on many things.
Commit to what you’re doing as well. It can be tempting to try and make things perfect – it doesn’t exist. Get some paint on the canvas and complete the task to the best of your ability. Put the task back on your list and revisit it after a break.
This comes to ideas too. It’s handy to always have a pen and notebook to hand. It means you can jot things down as you think of them and get them out of your head so they aren’t sat there subconsciously niggling away at you.
6. Make the time count
Time is valuable when you’re aiming to be productive. That is why it is useful to make every minute count. Plan your days, including what you can be getting done on your commute.
And if you have the flexibility, plan your commute around times that take less of your time such as avoiding rush hour.
Some opinions suggest that working in 90 minute intervals is also useful as you can complete tasks in short bursts and sets a soft deadline, but also encourages a break to reset and refocus on the next task.
Work out when you’re most productive too – is their a correlation to your energy levels? Think about how you can boost energy but also, what tasks to complete when you have energy and are productive, and what to leave until you have a bit of a lull!
7. Learn to manage those distractions
There are so many to fend off and they also become excuses. Find out what distracts you and get rid of it. Think about turning off notifications on your phone. Close Outlook – you won’t need it if you’ve got a list of things to do, you’ve already planned when you’ll do emails.
When it comes to colleagues, give them your time when it works for you. If you’re in the middle of something, just explain that you’re in the “flow” and whether you can pick things up when you’re done.
Minimising screen time can be hard if you work in a role that involves a PC – but dedicate your time to just that screen – put other screens away. Your phone or tablet can be taken out when you need them.
As for calls, if it isn’t scheduled in, let people know you’ll happily get back to them and set an expectation, then add it to your list so you deliver against your promise.
8. Be happy!
Well-being is important – make your environment happy – a tidy desk helps, as do plants, pictures and candles. Whatever makes you happy – fill your office with some of these things.
It’s important you enjoy what you do. If you don’t talk to your leader and let them know how they can get the best out of you. Explain what you’re best at and the blockers in the way of you doing that.
Motivation is also important – you’ll find keeping a diary of personal development and achievements is a great way to make sure you remain accountable, but a great reminder of the things you have achieved to pick you up.
If you find you don’t have much to write about, you might need to think about how you’re using your time.
9. Equip yourself with the best tools
Make sure you have the tools that help you. Think of things like the speed of your computers. Not only can they affect the speed things get done, but they can also affect morale and cause frustration.
If your IT provider is proactive and productive, they’ll work with you to optimise your systems and also schedule those updates that want to install just when you want to crack on with something.
And when it comes down to it, outsource the bits you aren’t best use of your time. Someone else will be most productive doing those tasks and it will take the burden of that from you. Whether it is delegating to a colleague or outsourcing – make sure you have the support.
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