In our last article, we examined how being disorganized can negatively impact your level of productivity. This article will focus on the role that time management plays in your ability to perform at your highest level.
Working longer hours does not always equate to being more productive. Often, the opposite is true. People tend to put off projects when they feel there is plenty of time to get them completed and will spend their time doing less urgent tasks. When there are fewer hours in the work day, there tends to be more of a sense of urgency to get things done. Time is no longer wasted on menial tasks in an effort to get important work completed. This extremely focused mindset allows for optimal productivity and achievement of goals.
While cutting hours out of your work day is not always possible, training your mind to focus on specific tasks for an extended period of time will aide in completing work more effectively. There are several strategies to try when you are unable to manage your time in a way that will be most efficient.
Set aside time during your day for returning phone calls, emails and meeting with colleagues. Once you set a block of time for completing routine smaller tasks, you can dedicate the larger part of your day to more important projects. Work that takes more energy should be tackled earlier in the morning when you are at your most aware. Save the mundane tasks for later in the afternoon, when energy levels start to decrease. This assures that you are giving your “best self” to the work that requires the most attention to detail.
Once you have set aside a time to address routine tasks, keep them out of mind until that time. Turn your email notifications off, switch your phone to voicemail, and only keep the window that you are working on open. This will allow you to dedicate time to your current project. If you continually find that coworkers are stopping in your office for one thing or another, put a do not disturb sign on your door. Consider setting a timer for between 60 and 90 minutes, giving yourself a short break during that period. Taking short breaks will allow you to recharge and remain focused for longer.
A great way to hit the ground running every day is to make a to-do list prior to leaving the office each night. This eliminates the need to take the time each morning deciding on how to prioritize and organize your day. With a list waiting for you when you arrive, there is no reason to procrastinate getting started with your day. It is surprising how much time is wasted deciding how best to get started. It is also likely that you will eliminate the early morning “chat session” with co-workers if you get started on a project right away.
While we can’t add more hours to our day, we can learn how to manage those hours for optimal productivity and success. Time is a resource that can’t be bought. Therefore, it must be spent wisely.