Too much to do and not enough hours in the day? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Everyone, at some time during their career, feels the overwhelm of a heavy workload. The great news is that through implementing these four key strategies, you will be not only more productive and better at managing your time at work, but you’re also likely to experience less stress and greater control in the process.
1. Long term planning
Having a long term plan and being well prepared at work is a necessary strategy to keep you focused and productive. Technology has made this even easier and, using tools such as Microsoft Outlook that can synchronise to your smart phone, can help you to manage your forward calendar efficiently and effectively. Set your goals for the year and then break them down into achievable actions that can get you where you want to be. Remember, once you’ve created your long term plan, be sure not to just click, save and never view it again – planning only works as well as you want it to!
2. Setting weekly priorities & daily tasks
Allocating at least an hour a week for setting your priorities and tasks can help you to keep on track. Experiment and work out what works for you, but if you work Monday – Friday, using part of your Friday afternoons is an ideal time to reflect on the week and to set priorities for the week to follow. It’s also valuable to spend the first 5-10 minutes of each work day revisiting your priorities and writing a simple list of things to do. You can even set time limits for each task if you want to keep super focused throughout the day.
In following your plans and lists, try to avoid the distractions that often interrupt our work. Of course, if the phone rings, you probably have to answer it, but if an email is delivered to your inbox must you really read it and respond immediately? Consider what works best for your workplace and adopt practices that keep distractions to a minimum if you can.
3. Create systems
Look at your work and identify areas where you can create systems that will save you time and increase efficiency. If you need to constantly gather information from clients, create some forms and checklists to ensure you obtain everything you need in half the time. Similarly, automating your emails is also a great time saver for routine enquiries. Systems make repetitive and routine tasks more efficient and you can then use the time you’ve saved on other important projects.
4. Limit meetings
Sometimes in the workplace, we HAVE to attend meetings, but if you’re in a position where you’re setting meetings, think first before sending out that calendar request. Carefully consider if a meeting, email or phone call is the best option to suit your situation. If a meeting is necessary, make sure it’s a productive one. Set your goals for the meeting and think about what it is that you need to achieve. Invite only those people that need to attend, enable adequate preparation time for participants, set an agenda and chair the meeting properly to keep it on track.
This article was written by Ellenor Day-Lutz on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.