Invest your time wisely so as to the get the most out of your day.
Learn to value your time and maximise the time you do have to get your life and career in order. Rushed deadlines, last-minute reports, a skewed work-life balance, anxiety and stress are all the result of bad time management. Eliminate these daily habits and you’re one step closer to an organised, productive day.
1. Turning on alerts and notifications
Our phones can be an enormous distraction, and all the more so if you’ve enabled these productivity killers. An alert can interrupt your train of thought, disrupt your momentum and snap you out of the web of concentration you’d built to get work done. Chances are you’re likely to give into the temptation of opening the email or message to see what it’s about. So you end up wasting a few minutes reading and responding. If it’s a social media alert, you’re like to waste even more time as you do down that rabbit hole! Once you’re done it will take you even longer to get your mind back into the work at hand. We recommend turning off your alerts, and checking text messages and emails maybe every hour (longer if you can manage it). Keep social media access to a minimum, maybe twice or thrice a day (morning, afternoon, and evening). If you’re planning to dive into something really intensive, consider enabling your phone’s do not disturb feature.
2. Not eating a frog in the morning
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In the business work this translates to doing the tasks you dread first. Once they’re done you’ll feel a sense of achievement and that will push your productivity for the rest of the day. It’s easier to finish smaller tasks when the big troublesome ones are out of the way. Procrastinating hasn’t ever worked out for anyone.
3. Calling for/accepting unproductive meetings
We’ve all spent countless minutes/hours in meetings wishing we’d never accepted. That’s because those who schedule meetings think it makes them feel more productive, but in reality it doesn’t. A lot of meetings can be reduced to a quick email exchange or conference call. When calling for a meeting ensure you’re only inviting those who actually have something to contribute or are directly connected to the project being discussed. When accepting a meeting, find out the exact agenda so that you can decide whether it is likely to be something useful or a waste of time.
4. Overambitious to-do lists
To-do lists are great because they give you a sense of accomplishment when you strike something off. But chances are you’re adding on too much to your daily list because you’re unable to accurately estimate how long it will take you to do a task. So you add on more and then feel dejected at the end of the day when you aren’t even half way through the list. You also feel stressed and overwhelmed, wondering how things spiralled out of hand. So start right, but making a realistic, effective to-do list. List out the tasks in terms of priority, starting with the highest. Then write down honestly how long it will take you to complete each task. Set realistic deadlines for each to be more effective and get the most out of your day.
5. Saying ‘yes’ to everything
It’s not possible to accommodate all the requests that come your way. Taking on more work that you have time for will make your day unmanageable and tasks unwieldy. Before saying ‘yes’ find out what the task involves. Is it a priority? Is it something only you can do? Remember your time is valuable, so learn to treat it as such. Consider what boundaries you want to set for the tasks you will accept. It might feel uncomfortable saying ‘no’ the first few times, but don’t be confrontational about it. People will respect you for it.
Photograph: Onlyyouqj – Freepik.com