We often complain about pressing deadlines and how we can’t manage to finish our work assignments on time. We wish for just an additional hour or two to our workday to cope with growing piles of work. We do things last-minute and wonder how others pull it off? But instead of wishing for more than 24 hours in a day, let’s learn how to use those hours more efficiently.
These 12 time-saving tips will help you work smarter, be more productive and avoid the stress of not meeting your deadlines. They will help you manage your time more efficiently, get things done and still find a couple of hours to relax.
Let’s find out how to make the best of your day.
Prepare for the next workday on time
A clear picture of what your next workday will look like spares you time and mental energy. It boosts your focus and productivity because you no longer need to think and make decisions on what will be your next task in the day.
You can prepare your to-do list, laptop, documents needed for tasks you are working on, work outfit, and even lunch. Over time, the habit of preparing everything for the next day at work will create a routine. Routine is particularly important in stressful times at work because it gives you a sense of certainty in unpredictable circumstances.
Keep track of your time
“Easier said than done” is probably your first thought after reading this tip. What makes a piece of thoughtful advice in theory might not easily be put into practice. We do our best to manage time properly, but how often do you find yourself scrolling on social media? Do you frequently get interrupted by chatty co-workers or lead never-ending communication with clients?
These time wasters are the biggest foes of productivity. To overcome this issue, all you need is a time tracking app. It will give you a precise track of how much time you have spent on different tasks, projects, or clients. Your data will be organized in a way that allows you to analyze your work trends and make better time management decisions.
Digitalize work for maximum productivity
The advances in digital technology help us accomplish assigned tasks more efficiently, allowing us to work smarter, not harder.
With the assistance of digital technology, you can save time and be more productive by:
- Working from home – technology supports remote work, which helps you spare time commuting
- Automating tasks – such as email replies, social media content, creating presentations, and making payments
- Managing projects, workflows, or tasks by using software such as Trello
- Speeding up team conversation by avoiding emails and using messaging up for business such as Slack
- Leveraging time and productivity tracking apps to learn more about your working style and productivity highs and lows
Learn how to prioritize work
Much time is wasted when we are trying to multitask. This can blur our vision on the most urgent or critical work. Learning to prioritize based on the importance or the delivery date will help you dedicate time to one task at a time.
First, make a list of your daily priorities. Dedicate an hour or two to finishing one task by setting a timer. It will give you satisfaction and relief for the work done and create more space for other assignments.
Batch your tasks
Working on multiple tasks simultaneously decreases our productivity due to constant shifting from one assignment to another. We all know that old habits die hard, so you might find it challenging to start doing one thing at a time immediately.
If you still catch yourself working on several tasks simultaneously, try avoiding wasting time by organizing your workday into categories. Group similar tasks using the same tools or skills to complete and then block off time to finish. This strategy reduces the transition time as well as time-consuming mistakes.
Start using this strategy with some simpler tasks such as catching up with all the emails or batch your activities on updating social media and websites. Be wise when choosing time devoted to these tasks. Save your best focus to more critical or complex assignments.
Reduce unnecessary meetings
How often do you attend meetings which could have been an email while an endless list of tasks waits to be handled? If you are an employee, you probably have little choice but to attend it. But, you can still manage to save time by politely declining the meeting invitation. For example, you can inform your team leader that other pending tasks should be given priority to the meeting due to their delivery date. This way, when you eliminate unnecessary meetings, you can focus more on meaningful work during your billable hours.
If you are a team leader, it’s critical to learn to run a meeting efficiently. First, try to optimize the frequency and duration of meetings. Before the meeting, clarify the aim, gather only team members relevant to the topic, and assign roles. All the necessary documents should be prepared and a clear agenda should be set. Pencil in 5 to 10 minutes to discuss each meeting activity and stick to this time frame.
Limit your number of daily decisions
It is estimated that an adult makes more than 35,000 decisions per day. If you are a manager, add up some more critical decisions on the company’s future to this number. Empowering your employees to make smaller decisions on their own, based on your guidelines and preferences, can take some burden off your shoulders.
Provide your employees with all the information, tools, and resources needed to make the best decision for the company without consulting you. This will save your time and energy for other major decisions. Use the 80/20 principle to reduce the number of trivial decisions that shouldn’t take up your energy and focus on what really deserves your attention.
Learn when to say no
We all want to be team players and help colleagues when a stack of work overwhelms them. But, it would be best if you kept in mind that you will probably burn out by doing yours and the work of the entire office. As hard as it is to say no to colleagues, you need to appreciate your time and personal boundaries and politely decline the work of others.
The same goes for saying no to new projects or tasks assigned to you by team leaders or bosses. You can respectfully decline to take on a new project by expressing appreciation for the opportunity and stating that other work commitments don’t allow you to take on additional assignments.
Don’t leave work unfinished
If you are close to wrapping up your assignment, even if it means spending some extra time at work, do not hesitate to finish it. Leaving it for tomorrow will cost you more time and mental energy to continue where you left off. The longer break you take, the more time and effort is needed to get back on task.
This tip can also be helpful when handling small tasks at work. If you procrastinate answering emails or making phone calls, these small tasks can pile up rather quickly, eventually taking much more time to finish. Finishing many small tasks adds up to big productivity, so don’t hesitate to complete them one by one straight away.
Minimize workplace distractions
Did you know that it takes 23 minutes to recover your focus after a distraction at work? In today’s busy world, probably even more.
Whether it is a chatty co-worker, cluttered workspace, mobile phone and email notifications or frequent snack breaks, you need to create a distraction free environment.
You probably wonder how is creating a distraction-free zone possible when you work in a large team where everybody cuts into your work time? You need to follow these steps to make it happen:
- Find a quiet place at work, at home, or in a coworking space if you work remotely
- Close the door of your office or use headphones
- Limit email consumption and production and unsubscribe from newsletters
- Turn off notifications on all digital devices
- Tell your family and friends not to contact you during working hours
One thing is for sure, workplace distractions will never vanish. Anyway, we can develop strategies to minimize them and not make them dictate our time at work.
Hire someone to help you or delegate
We often hesitate to ask for help as we think no one could do our job better than us. If you are a manager or a team leader, you might consider yourself as a jack-of-all-trades. These things make it difficult for you to hire someone reliable and diligent. Moreover, the worry about the additional costs of hiring someone new is always present.
In this case, you can delegate some assignments to other team members. You can hire a freelancer or virtual assistant to take care of your emails, manage social media, schedule meetings, and organize documentation. This way, you can cut expenses that hiring a full-time employee carries and still get valuable help.
Take breaks during the workday
When making plans for your workday and creating to-do lists, make sure to plan breaks too. Taking a break can help you think clearer, relieve stress, and increase your focus and productivity once you get back to your tasks.
Try employing the 50/10 rule, which implies that for every 50 minutes of work, you should assign yourself a 10-minute break. During that 10 minutes, you can get some fresh air on a quick walk, stretch, have a refreshing snack, or phone someone.
Use your time wisely with Time Analytics
We hope this article was both interesting and helpful in understanding the principles of successful time management.
In today’s digital work, it’s crucial to build an effective set of tools that will help your team perform at their best, while leveraging their time in the most successful way possible. Time Analytics provides simple timesheets to help you track your employees’ working hours, improve your projects’ profitability, and track time utilization to ensure maximum efficiency.
Find out how a simple tool can boost your team’s work in no time. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today.
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