Time management is one of the biggest challenges modern workers face. New technologies have given us more freedom to have flexible schedules and many more opportunities to slack off. Here are a few tips you can use to get yourself on track to be more productive.
Write a to-do list and keep it in a prominent place. It is also a good idea to prioritize your list and do it in (or close to) that order so you know the most important things are getting done. Or, if you know when you’re most productive during the day, do the #1 item during that time.
Once you’re done making your list and putting it in order, cross off everything below #5. If something is #8 on your list, it’s probably not going to get done that day. And if it’s not important enough to be high on the list, you probably don’t need to do it that day. It will probably just sit there, looming on your to do list, making you feel unaccomplished. Besides, if you get everything done on your list, you can always make a new one later in the day.
Take care of your most difficult task first. Often we spend a lot of our day coming up with ways to avoid tasks we don’t want to do. We may do this by getting other tasks done, or we may just play solitaire on the computer instead. If you get your worst task done first, you’ll not only get to your other tasks rather than avoiding them, but you’ll also have a sense of accomplishment to help motivate you through the rest of your day.
It’s always been accepted that you should keep your mind on your work and not let other things distract you or you won’t get any work done. However, recent research has shown that this isn’t true. In fact, it’s the opposite of the truth.
Taking short breaks by doing something you really like doing actually increases your productivity when you get back to work. The problem with this is that many people have problems getting back to work at the end of their break. If you do take short breaks, you should set a specific time limit and stick to it. You should also pick your activities carefully and stay away from those you know you won’t be able to stop doing once break time is done.
While it’s good to take breaks, you need to work to make working time only working time. This means clearing your desk (and computer desktop) of distracting things. If multitasking helps you get stuff done, then go ahead and work on several projects at a time, but don’t multitask between a project and an internet conversation or reading a funny website. Keep your fun time away from your work time. Otherwise, you’ll find you have very little actual work time.
If you are multitasking different projects, watch what things you do together. While working on a supply list and a budget at the same time might be useful, constantly interrupting your work to answer the phone or respond to emails is only going to slow you down. Save things like phone calls, emails, and checking on projects with co-workers for a few times a day. This way you can get your work don’t without interrupting your flow.
By just making a few small adjustments, you can drastically increase your productivity.