With only 24 hours in the day, it’s a constant race to get your ever growing task list completed. If you are anything like me, by the time the end of the day rolls around there seems to never be enough time. Use these tips and tricks to maximize your time and increase your efficiency, and you will be on your way to a more productive day.
Avoid Checking Your Email First
I am constantly guilty of waking up and immediately reaching for my phone. The average employee spends 13 hours per week on emails alone. When it’s the first thing you do every day, it sucks up all your high creativity and decision making time, making you overall less productive throughout the day. It also starts your day off in reactive mode by putting someone else’s goals for the day ahead of yours. You should evaluate what’s the most important and impactful objectives for the day and tackle them first. Try not to focus on the clutter in your inbox.
Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
Your list may be a mile long but focus on addressing one to three essentials tasks per day will help you stay focused on your most important goals for the day. Don’t take on additional tasks until the top priority tasks have been completed. Focus your attention on your most challenging or creative work first thing in the morning when your energy is at its peak. In Seven Habits, Covey wrote, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” By bulleting your top goals, you are more likely to not lose focus on what’s important.
PRO TIP: Your energy level tends to be at a low in the afternoon which is the perfect time to schedule busy work or soft tasks such as attending meetings or returning phone calls. According to research 3 p.m. is the optimal time to schedule a recurring meeting.
An alternative to multi-tasking is a method called batching. Essentially, using your time in shorts burst for one specific task. By dedicating your time to hyper-focus on the task at hand, instead of switching between multiple products, you will increase your productivity. It will also reduce your stress and help you to accomplish more in a shorter span of time. Energy management, as opposed to time management, forces you to think of results as a function of energy, not time invested. Working intensely for a short period of time can accomplish more than working for days, tired and distracted.
Take Time to Recharge
Try the 52/17 rule next time you are feeling sluggish at work. It’s a method used to help you take frequent breaks throughout the day with the goal being to maintain your energy and focus. For every 52 minutes spent working you should take a 17-minute break. Just long enough to give yourself a chance to recharge and refocus before tackling another task.
Recharging is not only important during the work day but also in between work days. Before heading home write down your goals for the next work day. This allows you to get your mind off work and ready to relax. Then try to avoid checking emails or engaging in work activities in the evening in order to give your brain a chance to fully recharge.
Avoid Decision Fatigue
As the day goes on your ability to make smart decisions starts to decrease. If possible, make your most important decisions in the morning. A suggestion from the most productive people is to avoid decision fatigue by automating or streamlining as many non-essential decisions as possible.
Pro Tip: Have a standard lunch to pack each day or lay out your clothes for the week ahead. Reducing your decisions in the morning can reserve your decision making for more important choices.
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