Working is not just a nine to five thing. It’s what you accomplish in that time that really counts. How can you organize your time for greater productivity?
Here are some easy ways you can master your workflow:
1. Make a to-do list. People at the top use a to-do list every single day. One of the real secrets of getting more done is to work steadily on the list, keep it visible and use it as a guide as you go through the day.
2. Prioritize your tasks using A’s (high value), B’s (not quite so important) and C’s (low value). Return to the list and select the highest priority A and label it A-1. Go through all the A’s in this way, then do the same with the B’s and C’s. Carry over the unfinished items to the next day …and so on.
3. Find ‘prime times’ during the day when you characteristically do your best work. Plan your time blocks accordingly.
4. Look for opportunities to get started on activities. Take advantage of “open” minutes: commuting time; coffee break, lunch and “waiting” occasions.
5. When planning your daily schedule, it is best to set aside a block of time to work exclusively on “A” activities. Leave some “holes” in the day to allow for unexpected interruptions that pop up.
4. When you need time to work on projects, schedule appointments with yourself and then honor the appointments as you would any meeting. You can also schedule the times you will be available to others.
5. Organize your office. Keep files and papers where you can easily access them. Set up a system. Discard junk regularly and ruthlessly.
6 Set yourself some exciting goals. Worthy goals are motivating. Tell others about your goals and you’ll feel more accountable.
7. Wherever possible set a time limit for each job. In a polite way, make people aware of the deadlines you need to meet.
8. Just start. Starting is often the hardest past. Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm.
9. Eliminate distractions specially when you need to concentrate – this includes phone calls, e-mail notifications and having multiple browsers open on the desktop. However, a bit of music in the background can help you focus.
10. The telephone is a tool; it shouldn’t control your life. Take hold of phone conversations from the start. State directly what you want to say. Develop tact and skill in closing a call – “Thanks for your help; I’ll be in touch …”
11. Take a break. Work in short bursts at your most productive times.
12. Love what you do. Enjoy your work. Don’t be satisfied with anything but the best. Put in the extra effort needed to make your work shine.
13. Always have a notebook and pen at hand. Jot down thoughts, to-dos, ideas, points for reports etc. This saves a lot of think time.
14. Learn – and practice – saying “no” without apology. Say “yes’ only if the obligation helps you accomplish one of your key objectives.
15. Find a mentor. Do what he or she does to master your own workflow.
Remember time is a gift. Effective management of this gift can help you become more productive at work – and lead a fuller life.