Maintaining focus and productivity can be a challenge in today's fast paced world when meetings, phone calls and emails dominate much of your working day. To help you improve productivity, I wanted to share my top tips on how to manage your time more effectively at work.
How to organise your day in productive blocks
- Some people are early risers, some are night owls, figure out when during the day you are most productive then establish these blocks of time to get more focused work done.
- Start the day with a project you find challenging; you'll feel virtuous and energised having got a psychological block of work done. Going forward, the day will become enjoyable.
- Your thinking capacity is maximised when you work in 90-minute segments so you may plan your day in 90-minute slots of uninterrupted time and 15 minutes breaks.
How to avoid productivity blocks
- Before opening any email, ensure you have the time to respond; if you decided to respond later, you will have to re-read the email, which is an inefficient use of your time. With your full focus, deal with as many things as possible only once, then it's done. Apply this to email, meetings, and requests for help. I open my emails over lunch and at the end of the day, there are very few things that are urgent.
- The best project is a completed project, speed over perfection wins 95% of the time. Remember that good enough is quite enough so do not get paralysed by perfection. You may not reduce your workload, however, doing one thing at a time will help you do it better and faster.
How to prioritise, systemise and progress effectively
- Productive people reduce their time on the small daily decisions and routine. What can you do to simplify, systemise, automate and delegate regular tasks?
- Prioritise your next day's activities the night before then visualise your success as you sleep.
- List the activities you want to accomplish and check them off as you complete them. Seeing your progress will make you feel more productive.
How to remain focused
- If you're not as disciplined as you would like, get an accountability partner to act as a sounding board or a trusted adviser that has an outsider's perspective. The promises you make to yourself are easy to break but much harder when someone else is making you accountable.
- Spend the majority of your time on things that matter to you or your business. When you are clear on what you want to accomplish and why, the actions that will get you there become much easier to follow. You will be more motivated to work on things that really matter and therefore focused on efficiencies. Knowing your purpose and goal, measuring your ROI and assessing what makes the biggest difference will keep you on track.
What works for one does not necessarily work for another person - find what works for you and what helps you maintain focused. Ensure you have a good work-life balance too as this is your time to refuel your creativity energy. It's important to feel productive as this gives a self-fulfilling sense of purpose and progress. To do this review your progress at the end of each day, look for the positives and the lessons that you can use going forward.
Remember it is marginal continuous improvement not wholesale change where productive gains are made.
Article originally written by Janice B Gordon for Sage Exchange
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