As 2015 unfolds, learning how to be more efficient with your time at work can allow you to get more done and help create more quality of life once you leave the office. Here are some tips to get you started.
Get organized first
When we walk into the office, it’s natural to get distracted with email, a casual conversation or checking voicemail. When we do these things first, it often can send us down a different path for much of the morning. However, if we can take the first five to 10 minutes creating the list of priorities for the day, we can get focused much sooner.
Create a deadline
Do you have those projects on your plate that just seem to slide? Give yourself a deadline for when you want to get it done and keep it. Typically, the most productive time for us is right before we go on vacation or on a Friday afternoon as we are trying to wrap up those final items from the week. Create a sense of urgency by giving important projects a realistic but firm deadline.
When we are on a team, we may overlook everyone’s individual strengths. One person may enjoy organizing files while another may be a great writer. We may enjoy planning and project management. However, everyone’s job may have a mix of these activities when dividing tasks to match individual strengths and preferences will help streamline the collective work load and make everyone more efficient. If we enjoy doing a specific task, we usually will be more effective and efficient doing it.
Set the timer
Take one of your tasks and compress the time you need to complete it. Even starting a timer on your phone to add a little pressure will help ensure you are working more quickly. If you don’t finish the task within your set timeframe, set the timer again for the next round. Not only can this be a fun, competitive way to complete a task in a compressed amount of time, you will surprise yourself how much more quickly you can get things done when you force a deadline like this.
With our email, text messages and social interactions, it can become a distracting work environment when we are trying to complete critical tasks. Take a minute to “get in the zone” and focus on a specific task. You may need to work out a signal to coworkers that you a “in the zone” with a fun, creative visual to help them respect the space you need to focus. One agency had a graphic designer that would put out a traffic pylon when she needed to focus. Or you even could get some caution tape to put over your door or raise a flag in your cube when you need some undisturbed time. Put on some headphones, and put your cell phone in a drawer while you give 100 percent of your attention to a specific task.
This week, try each of these tips and see how much more you are able to get accomplished. You might just surprise yourself at your newfound level of productivity.