We all have the same number of minutes in our days, yet some people seem to get far more done than others. How come? Simple. They’ve mastered the basics of time management. And by following in their footsteps, you can do the same.
Here are six time-saving tips to help you take charge of your time and turn yourself from someone who’s always chasing their tail to someone everyone else can count on to get things done.
Get in the habit of making lists – Write down the things you need to do. This will help you clear your mind and give you a series of goals to work toward. For bigger projects, write down a list of all the things you need to gather together or tasks you to complete before you can begin the project.
Clear your desk and your inbox – Get rid of everything around you that has nothing to do with the job in hand. This will make it easier to focus on what you’re working on. Remove all sources of distraction. Deal with any unanswered emails. One of the biggest drags on productivity is allowing your mind to wander. Don’t give it the chance.
Do one job at a time – Don’t dilute your concentration. Stay with the job you’re working on until it’s done. It’s all too easy to think, Oh, I’ll just a take a break from this and bash out that email. Invariably, this is just a diversion that’ll make the original job take longer – or, worse still, get put aside and forgotten.
Plan ahead – Think about what you need to do tomorrow today. This achieves two important goals. First, when tomorrow comes, you know what you’re going to do, so can get cracking right away. Second, by thinking ahead, you alert yourself to any preparations you might need to make before you start. You also benefit at an unconscious level as your mind is already primed and may have even done some of your thinking without your realizing it.
Give yourself deadlines – One of the simplest, yet most powerful, productivity boosters, deadlines work wonders. Try it for yourself. Break your workload down into manageable units and set a deadline for each. Or take a date, say the end of next week, and aim to clear all outstanding projects by that time.
Guard your time – Do everything you can to limit interruptions. Use voicemail. Don’t check your inbox more than twice a day. Don’t go browsing the web at whim. Don’t tell co-workers your door is always open – set specific times when you’re available to take calls, talk through problems and attend meetings.