Do you often feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with your work? And forget about having time to enjoy yourself, your family and friends.
You’re not alone. Your workload may actually have increased, as most companies these days are trying to maximize productivity in order to stay ahead (or even just stay in business). Or you may be taking on more challenges in order to grow your career (or your bank balance).
Whatever the reason, it’s definitely time to work smarter, not harder. Here are some great tips from our time management experts.
When planning your work for the day or week, don’t confuse “must” get done with “want” to get done. You may “want” to do more research for that report, but it “must” be handed in Friday. Allocate time to take care of the necessary jobs, then see what time you have left for the extras.
Write it down.
For most people, making a mental to-do list is not enough. It’s just too easy to ignore or keep putting off until later. Get a calendar and fill it in with “appointments” of the things you need to do. This creates a sense of commitment not to break the appointment — as if you were blowing off someone you had a date with.
Trim the fat.
When you’re filling out your calendar, do you automatically assume it will take an hour to complete task XYZ? Maybe you could get it reasonably well done in 50 minutes. How about 40 minutes? Re-analyze everything, especially routine tasks you don’t even think about anymore.
The biggest time-waster is interruptions: being constantly pulled away from a project by people, phone calls, emails, etc. Then when you go back to it, it takes a few minutes to re-focus and remember where you were. So you are basically doing the same work over and over. Shut out anything not essential to the project until it’s finished.
Save time by consolidating activities that require you to be in the same place or use the same tools. For example, instead of answering emails as they come in, designate a couple of sessions per day for going through them. Batching also works for reading/thinking, computer work, homework, shopping/errands, house cleaning/repairs, cooking, and more.
Instead of wishing you could add more hours to the day, use the ones you have more efficiently. You’ll find that you can have the balanced life you want!