No matter how hard you work, some days your ‘to-do pile’ never seems to get any smaller. But there is light at the end of the task tunnel. By implementing these simple strategies, you can focus on streamlining the way you operate and produce great work without having to work into the early hours.
1. Plan strategically
Write a new to-do list every day and keep it with you throughout the day so you can update it, checking tasks off as you complete them. Always keep a pen and some paper on hand, including next to your bed, in case you remember something during the night or come up with a good idea.
2. Start early
Begin your working day early. You will be able to start your day in relative peace, and seeing tasks being crossed off your to-do list before your colleagues have even entered the building should keep you motivated throughout the day.
Always keep a pen and some paper on hand, including next to your bed, in case you remember something during the night or come up with a good idea.
3. Get your priorities right
Get your most important work done first – work that is relevant to your goals, strategic objectives and key performance indicators. Learn to say no to non¬essential demands and don’t waste time perfecting internal memos or emails when your time could be spent more profitably elsewhere.
4. The art of delegation
Some people find delegating tasks simple, while others find it challenging to let go and trust others with the work. However, learning to pass on projects to subordinates is essential not only for your own development, but also for your teams. By delegating work you can streamline your daily tasks and focus on the most important projects while utilising the skills of others. It also allows you to promote a sense of community with your fellow employees.
5. Set yourself deadlines
Deadlines are vital for helping you focus and keeping you in control. Divide large projects into more manageable chunks and set yourself a time limit for each of these tasks. The practice of setting deadlines and meeting them will also ensure you develop a key skill that is important for professional career success.
6. Concentration time
Schedule a time every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes, where you can’t be disturbed – unless it’s an emergency. Use that time to focus, apply yourself and complete important tasks quickly.
7. Happiness is organisation
Don’t ignore emails and post; doing so will only add to your workload. With emails, get into the habit of glancing over each one and either moving it into a pending file to action or delete it. If you receive large amounts of post, do the same. This simple but effective organisational tactic will help you keep all incoming messages under control.
An efficient filing system is an effective working practice and part of good organisational skills. If you save work in centralised folders for team members to access, file work as you go to ensure folders are kept up-to-date and to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by a cluttered desktop.
8. Phone call o’clock
Decide on a set time when you will make or return phone calls and schedule this into your calendar. Also, by letting your contacts know that this is the best time of the day to reach you, you can hopefully reduce interruptions and won’t be bombarded with calls that may distract you throughout the day.
9. Organised, but flexible
No matter how carefully you plan, you will sometimes have to veer off course by projects that require urgent attention. When your schedule doesn’t go exactly to plan, be flexible and willing to reassess your tasks for the day.
10. Prepare, then relax
Before you leave your workplace for the day, try to spend some time preparing for the next day. This way you can enjoy a happy, relaxing evening knowing your morning won’t be chaotic or rushed, and you have an indication of what the day ahead holds.
So before you work another 14-hour day or become stressed due to an out of control inbox or cluttered desktop, try implementing some of these tips. And as an added bonus, you will likely find they have a positive effect on your personal life as well as your work life.
If you find yourself staying at the office long after your colleagues have gone home, you may be working hard, but not intelligently. With some simple attitude and strategy changes, you can work smarter:
- Learn how to delegate projects to others on your team
- Schedule time in your day to make phone calls to avoid interruptions
- Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them
- Prepare for the coming day before you leave the office
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