Getting the most out of your day can seem like another job to put on the to do list, something to get around to when the most important tasks are finished.
But there are easy changes you can make to help you focus better, waste less time and feel more positive, which will in turn make you more productive.
Try these time management tips:
At the core of being wholly in control of the hours in your day is recognising that optimising your time is not the same thing as getting as much done as possible. You could be more successful by doing less, as long as you know which duties to side-line.
Starting in the right frame of mind is crucial. This 23 minute routine to start your day right has a carefully plotted mini-schedule of short tasks that will boost your mind, motivation and physical wellbeing. Two minutes of writing here, a burst of exercise there, a calming meditation and a thoughtful email all slotted in around breakfast will have you beaming your way to work.
And when you get there, eat the big frog first. If you have a selection of unappetising tasks to do, getting the worst done first will make you feel great once you have cleared it out of your way. It is self-fulfilling motivation.
Research has shown that in companies offering flexitime, those who got in early were perceived as more productive than those who stayed late. Add this to the numerous studies showing overtime increases the risk of stroke and heart disease, or binge drinking, then you are more than justified in leaving on time.
Pay attention to your office environment and how it relates to your productivity. Open plan offices can help you share ideas and spark off your colleagues but they can also be a distraction. If this affects you and isn’t something you have a say in, try and get away to a quiet place for your most mentally challenging projects.
Emails, messages and phone calls can be hard to ignore even when you know your task is more important than anything that could be interrupting you. Checking your inbox and answering calls, however briefly, can make a job take longer than necessary, without you having given it your full attention and it can make you more stressed. You don’t have to switch off completely but create a different habit.
A study has found that checking your emails three times daily, and not when messages pop up on your screen or when you switch topics, reduces stress.
And even having your phone visible, whether it is switched on or not, can prevent you from concentrating fully.
But knowing all this is one thing, putting it in to action is more difficult because it is hard to shift perspective when we are used a certain routine, a pattern of getting things done, that gets us by.
Our Goal Getter workshop challenges participants to question how they view the concepts of time and work, and how to take steps to prioritise the most valuable, high-impact tasks most relevant to their goals and objectives.