How many times have you wished you could turn back the clock to add 7 or 8 hours to your day? Whether you’re overscheduled, haven’t mastered the more intricate components of effective time management or simply fall prey to distractions from the time you get up to the time you go to bed, if you’re constantly ending your day with a to-do list that’s longer than the one you started with it’s time to step back, re-evaluate, and put these simple principles into play to help you crank your productivity into overdrive.
1) Prioritize your day. Sure, you’ve got 100 things on your desk, half of which should have been done yesterday, but what’s really important? What projects are going to cause huge amounts of stress if you allow them to be pushed to the back burner? These are the projects you want to concentrate on first.
2) Make a schedule and stick to it. What time are you going to be in the office? What hours are you available for meetings? When will you be working on specific products, and what times of the day are reserved for routine tasks? If you commit to a schedule you’ll not only get more done, you’ll also feel better when the you get to leave work at work at the end of the day.
3) Kick procrastination to the curb. We all have jobs we don’t want to do every now and then, but putting them off
only makes the misery last even longer. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can just as easily get done today.
4) Delegate. There’s a reason businesses have “teams” and not soloists. You can’t do it all. No one expects you to do it all. And the sooner you stop trying to do it all and start handing some of the responsibility over to the people who work with you, the sooner the end of that to-do list is going to come into sight!
5) Schedule your distractions. Everything takes twice as long when you have to stop every five minutes to answer the phone…or check your email…or talk to a colleague. Schedule your distractions and ignore them for the rest of the day. The more peace and quiet you get, the more you’re going to get done and the more productive you’ll be.
6) Take a break. Seriously. You actually get more done when you stop and take small, regular breaks throughout the day than when you push yourself to the point of boredom. Why? Because when you’re rested and enthusiastic you’ll bring some energy to the project, and energy always increases productivity.
7) Shake it up. Don’t work on the same project from the time you punch in until the time you punch out if you can help it. Spend an hour working on one project, then an hour working on another. By not working on the same thing day in and day out you’re not burning yourself out.
8) Carry a notebook. Remember when we talked about managing distractions? Well, not all distractions are outside our head. Some are still up in there, lying in wait for the minute we turn our backs. Ideas, thoughts, to-do lists, phone numbers…all of these take up residence in our subconscious and irritate us to no end when we’re trying to finish our work. By writing them down when they pop into your mind you can keep your head clear and your day moving forward instead of stalling out halfway through.
9) Keep your office clean and organized. Thomas J. Peters said, “If a company has a clean desk policy they’re nuts, and you’re nuts to stay there.” I know I personally prefer controlled chaos to sterility in my working environment, but let’s face it. There’s no way you’re going to get from one to done on your to-do list if you have to spend the entire day looking for the resources you need.
10) Don’t forget to sleep! When you’re rushing from the time you get up until the time you go to bed, it’s easy to let little things like sleep fall to the wayside. Unfortunately, that also means that you’re running at something slightly less than your best the next day. Take the time to get a good 8 straight and watch your productivity go through the roof!