Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Everyone wants to be productive at work but the distractions are endless. E-mails, Internet, phone calls and colleagues continually take us away from the task at hand. We’re like paper clips drawn to an industrial-strength magnet. We always say to ourselves, “This will just take a second, then I’ll get right back to what I was doing”, but before we realise it, one second has morphed into half an hour! If these distractions are not managed, they can sometimes consume even more time than actual working hours. Another big time waster is getting caught up in less important tasks. A lack of prioritisation will cause you to miss deadlines and raise your blood pressure. However, help is at hand. Here are a few time-saving and interruption-eliminating methods that will help you to work smarter, not harder!
1. If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it
According to PickTheBrain.com, you should start by measuring the time that you have available each day against the time you actual do work. You then divide your productive time by the total time. For example, if you start a task at 09:30, and finish at 11:30, this is your total time. But, you need to ‘fess up about whether or not you spent those full two hours working. If you spent an hour of that time checking e-mails, taking a phone call or updating your Facebook status, then that means you were only 50% productive.
2. Do important tasks in the mornings
We’re (usually) well rested when we arrive at work and ready to tackle the day ahead. Mornings are often when we are at our most productive. Msnbc.msn.com suggests that you set aside a morning block of time to complete your most pressing and demanding tasks. Close your office door and put up a Do Not Disturb sign if you need to. According to Msnbc.msn.com, we’ve become an “Instant Response” culture, as we’re expected to reply to e-mails and phone calls on demand – which disrupts our workflow. Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) suggests that you limit email checking to twice a day, at 12:00 and at 4pm. According to him, this is when you’ll have the most responses. He adds that you should put your phone onto voicemail and check that at set times too. He takes it a level further by using an email auto-responder, which notifies his contacts about his email-checking policy.
3. Use shortcuts, have more spare time
It’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in tedious tasks, but there are ways to streamline your work. A simple method is to learn the shortcuts on your keyboard, or to do a speed typing or reading course. There are also a multitude of online applications to help you be more efficient, such as Evernote and Dropbox. Ferriss suggests that you try limiting the time you set for important tasks by setting slightly unreasonable deadlines for yourself. This will cause you to push yourself a little harder and you’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of! According to Msnbc.msn.com, pushing yourself to finish tasks earlier, will allow you to carve out some leisure time because you can leave work earlier.
If you follow these suggestions, you will increase your productivity by decreasing your distractions and your workload. An awareness of what you’re doing wrong and a willingness to re-evaluate your current time management techniques (or lack thereof) will benefit you greatly. Work smarter, not harder. You’ll get more done and, paradoxically, have more free time!
About the Author:
Ang Lloyd writes on behalf of Now Learning, which promotes an assortment of study opportunities Down Under, such as accounting and business courses in Australia.