Life is busy. Tomorrow always brings more to do. When I ask people how things are going, the answer I generally get is that they are busy. This is really no surprise as everyone has to be doing something every minute of every day but what are we doing with our time? Are you merely being busy or are you actively making the kind of difference you want to make? Here are a few tips to think about how to work efficiently and feel you are in control of your time:
- Define what is urgent. Who or what needs your attention today?
- Focus on one big task at a time.
- Break big projects into small chunks to help manage expectations and motivation.
- Set deadlines for every task
- Block in times during the week for regular tasks that need to get done such as organising tax receipts.
- Find a time keeping tool that works for you so you can be conscious of time spent of tasks.
- Race the clock. Give yourself a set amount of time to get something done.
- Keep all dates, deadlines and appointments in one place so you can see what you have planned for the day, week and month.
- Don’t book up all your time. Allow down-time between tasks as well as time for the unexpected.
- A to-do-list helps you clarify and remember everything that needs to get done
- Don’t expect a miracle. Be realistic about what you can and should achieve in a day.
- Set strict time limits on meeting and go with a clear agenda.
- Before beginning a phone call, have a clearly-formed agenda of what you expect to cover to help you steer the conversation and end it sooner.
- Know what the first task is that you will do the next day.
- Leave your work space tidy at the end of the day.
- Have systems in place to streamline processes.
- Look up. Look around. Look out a window.
- Leave the music off, don’t text, or make calls or check social media while waiting at the bus stop, driving in the car or queuing at the supermarket. Allow yourself some time for thinking or unwinding.
- Make sure you have something to look forward everyday. Your perspective on the current situation affects your ability to get work done.
- Avoid time wasting complaining. Put your energy into improving the situation.
- Email, social media, phone calls, browsing the internet and texts can consume chunks of work time. Set times and limits.
- Get up and move around at least once in an hour for a few minutes.
- Don’t forget about time for yourself. Don’t see this as time wasted. It is important to switch off and recharge your batteries.
- Drink more water. When you’re dehydrated, you’ll have far less energy and get less done.
- Good food fuels your brain.
- Sleep allows your brain to rest and recover as well as sort and process information.
- Have an accountability partner if you are having trouble with procrastination.
- Think of procrastination as a thief who stealing your time.
- If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t focus on the negative part of the task. It might be boring, frustrating or difficult. Flip this attitude and choose to focus on a positive element and what you can do now to get it done.
- Just get started. Even scribbling down ideas can help get going on a task.
So if you feel you have no time to lose, pay attention to how you are spending it. Being productive isn’t always easy, but the rewards are more than worth it.
What else do you do to stay productive? Share any suggestions you have in the comments below.