With our obligations constantly piling up, the line between our working hours and private lives is getting blurrier. We don’t spend enough time with our friends and families and yet, our workplace productivity is not always satisfactory.
But, if you look around you, you will see a bunch of people who make time for basically any activity that comes to their mind. And, they always seem so happy.
So, what’s their secret? Are they somehow superior to us? The answer is no. They simply know how to manage their tasks effectively.
With this in mind, here are a few awesome tips that will help you make the most of your 24 hours.
1. Know your Major Time Wasters
Keep track of your daily activities to understand how much time you spend on each of them. There are numerous time management tools that will help you do so. This practice gives you the opportunity to finally realize the difference between your subjective time and reality and know what your biggest time wasters are. By identifying the tasks that take longer than you expected, you can set strict time constraints and find a way to complete these tasks more effectively. Most importantly, you will manage to detect the major distractions in your working environment and remove them.
2. Set Clear Goals
To save your time and complete your tasks effectively, you need to set clear objectives. Use the SMART goal setting technique, meaning that your goals should always be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. So, instead of wasting your precious time on overly ambitious goals you cannot achieve right now, focus on smaller, short-term projects you can complete on time. It doesn’t matter if it’s scheduling a meeting, handling finances, or creating client reports, knowing what results you want to achieve will keep you on track and help you focus on only those activities that make sense at a given moment.
3. Eliminate Distractions and Automate your Tasks
Our jobs contain a bunch of tedious, repetitive tasks that require a lot of manual work and eat up our time. Let’s take emails as an example. Studies show that, every day, employees spend around 4 hours checking their work email. That’s over 20 hours every week or 1000 hours every year. Worse yet, everyone, your boss, coworkers, clients, expects you to get back to them as soon as possible.
Obviously, this is a huge distraction and it needs to be handled somehow. For instance, instead of reading your emails the moment they pour in, you should make a schedule and check them a few times a day. You could also ask your coworkers to use some faster and less formal means of messaging, such as Skype or Slack.
The same goes for creating client reports. Marketers claim that it takes about 5 hours per client to create a quality monthly report. Instead of monitoring, collecting, and analyzing all your data manually, you could let a tool to do that instead of you. Irrespective of your niche, there are numerous reporting tools that will allow you to track your performance, create customized reports fast and even help improve the relationship with your clients.
4. Create a To-Do List
Creating a weekly to-do list helps you be more proactive. To make your goals more achievable, you can even break all your activities down into smaller, daily tasks. Keep in mind that your energy levels vary throughout the week. For example, many people find it difficult to switch to the “working mode” on Mondays. If you’re one of them, you should consider scheduling some minor, less important tasks for the beginning of the week. On the other hand, your productivity is at its peak on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So, this is when you could complete your most demanding and creative tasks. Schedule your meetings on Thursdays, when your energy starts to plummet, while Fridays are perfect for some further planning.
5. Don’t Chase Perfection
If you’re one of those people sitting around and waiting until your inspiration strikes, you need to rethink your approach. Even if you’re not inspired to complete a certain task or you find it too difficult, you need to convince yourself that you can do it and get started. Also, don’t chase perfection. Instead of sweating the small stuff, focus on the big picture. Learn how to prioritize your obligations to improve your productivity. Spending hours on something that can be done in a few minutes will not only make you waste your time, but also prevent you from focusing on some other, more important aspects of your job.
6. Back to You
Always remember that you’re the one controlling your tasks and not the other way around. Set clear goals and build a weekly schedule that will help you stay focused on the right activities and find the balance between them. And, don’t worry. Managing your time effectively may seem too complicated right now, but once you get used to it, it will become a part of your daily routine.