Careers & Education

Use your work day hours efficiently

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Work day hours are valuable - make the most of them.

For many, the frustration of hitting the end of the day without checking a single item off of your to-do list is far too familiar. You want to make better use of your work day hours, but there never seems to be time to step back and figure out where the time goes. There’s work to be done and it seems like the more you want to accomplish, the less time you have to complete the most basic tasks.

There are a number of ways to work more efficiently, but first it helps to take a breath and reconnect with why you enjoy your work. What are your professional goals? Where would you like to be 1, 3, 5 and 10 years from now? The steps you take to improve you productivity and time management skills will help you get to where you want to go.


Tips for getting more out of your work day hours


Teaching yourself to work more efficiently will be a work-in-progress; a process that involves eliminating non-essential tasks, compartmentalizing actions, and simplifying your work day. Doing so will help you optimize your focus and creative energy for the most important projects and relationships.

Take Control of Your Time

Imagine your work day hours are a suitcase. If you’re like many people, the larger your suitcase, the more stuff you pack. When you limit yourself to a small suitcase, you manage to pack only the essentials. As a result, your load is a lot lighter and it turns out that you didn’t need those extra slacks anyway.

If you find yourself cutting into your lunch hours and staying later, stop. Chances are, you’re filling your work day with non-essential stuff or making tasks more complicated than they need to be. Limit the number of hours you work and do not cut into your lunch time (you need the break). Having a set amount of time gives you a more acute focus on priorities and a sense of urgency that will prevent procrastination.







Set Boundaries

While you have the chopping block out, limit your work distractions. Email, phone calls, chatty co-workers and endless meetings will drain you of valuable time. Schedule 15-20 minute blocks of time for important tasks and discipline yourself to stick to the schedule as much as possible. This entails letting calls go to voice mail and turning off the ringer, closing your email, and setting a beginning and hard-out time for meetings and limit the number of meetings you take per week.

Do Not Disturb


Schedule blocks of time for creative tasks and let colleagues know when you will be interrupt-able. Magic happens when you’re able to finish your train of thought, you’ll see. Address your work environment and consult with a manager if needed on limiting chaos in the work environment. You may not be the only person with trouble focusing.

The Early Bird-

Start your day early when phones are quiet and co-workers are still sitting in traffic. Your day will end earlier and you’ll have time for a bike ride before dinner.

Exercise

Exercising in your free time will make your more productive during work day hours. Studies show that exercise boosts energy, cognitive function and creative problem solving.

Makeover Your To-Do List

Keep that long running to-do list of tasks and projects, but make a separate action to-do list for each day. Prioritize your daily list with three things that you want to accomplish in the day and guard your attention and energy until these things are complete.


Quick Tips to Boost Efficiency throughout the Day

* Write shorter emails. Associates will appreciate your directness and respond with short emails so you’ll spend less time reading email as well as writing it. Limit yourself to four sentences or less.

* File all administrative paperwork in your inbox, and address it at the end of the day.

* When you run work errands, use your wait time to respond to email.

* Knock out a handful of 2-minute tasks at the end of the day. This will keep the ‘back burner’ from becoming a source of stress.

* If you’re a numbers person, set realistic, measurable goals for yourself for each week and month.

* Clear your desk at the end of the day for a fresh start in the morning. Give every supply a permanent home.

* Make your 3-item to-do list for the next day before you go home.

* If you’re stuck on a task or problem, switch gears for 20 minutes.

Everybody works differently. Take the tips that resonate most and apply them ruthlessly. Taking control of your work day hours will enable you to work in a more meaningful way and contribute more thought and energy to the projects that count.

References:
Work Happy Now
Time Management Guide

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