There’s nothing worse than starting a week with the best intentions and reaching Friday with a longer to-do list than you started with.
Check out the below hacks to kick-start your workspace efficiency. Time wasters need not apply.
1. 3 minute rule
If a task appears (whether it’s on your to-do list or in your inbox) and it would take less than three minutes, do it straight away. This easily clears out your to-do list without much thought, meaning you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Plus, any completed task, no matter how puny, will give a burst of accomplishment to give you momentum for the big jobs.
2. The day before the morning after
So much time in the morning is spent remembering which activities you have to do, and their priority for the day. Cut this sleepy thinking time in half by writing your to-do list a day ahead, before you leave the office.
It’s a breeze to jot down what you need to do when you’re already in the mind-set, and means your brain won’t need so much effort to start functioning before you’ve had your morning coffee.
3. Underestimate meetings
Parkinson’s Law dictates that your work will expand to fit the time you have to complete it. Book your one hour meeting into a half hour slot, and you’ll find that it will still be completed to a satisfactory standard. Less waffle, more work.
4. Ultimate online self-control
This is the digital version of having your boss standing behind you while you work – i.e. no more social media updates, news site scrolling or YouTube procrastinating while you sit on a mountain of work.
Install a browser extension – such as the highly acclaimed Google Chrome extension StayFocusd – and you can control ahead of time what you can and cannot do online during work hours.
5. Standing ovation
Speaking of everyday office jobs that take too long, speed up your phone calls by taking them while standing up. The psychological effect of standing compared to sitting means you’ll be less relaxed and leisurely, more ready-for-action. See you later, mind-numbingly long voicemail messages.
6. Just say no
Saying yes = promotes positivity, forces you to try new things, makes you a reliable team member. Saying yes all the time = other people’s work getting prioritised over your own, you become a living carpet that gets walked over all day, every day.
Re-embrace the power of saying no to spontaneous tasks that get in the way of planned work (obviously, if you are also embracing the three minute rule, you’ll have to find a democratic balance.)
7. Fill up your calendar
Most people are good at putting their appointments and meetings into the calendar. But why not apply this ‘set in stone’ approach to the rest of your work?
Allocate hours in the day for the important tasks that must get done, and pencil them into your schedule. Never again will you experience the 4pm panic with a full to-do list.
8. Practice makes perfect
If you want to get better or quicker at something, start making it a part of your daily routine. Forcing yourself to do said activity for at least ten minutes a day means that you’ll be practiced for when you need it, and you get a gold star for achieving your goal.
Time to dance, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
9. Log your time
You’ll never have a true picture of how much time particular activities take if you don’t keep track.
Create a document and log your daily activities, to the nearest half hour. If you see a pattern of time wasted (whether on unimportant work, or fun but equally unimportant websites), eliminate that activity. No more pretending like you only spend a minute or two catching up on social media.
10. It’s not perfect
Don’t stress about doing a job to your highest standards. This will only eat up more time and likely make you put it off for longer.
Allow yourself a dry run or first draft of whatever you need to do. This can be done quickly, and then the hardest part of the job is done (starting). Improving your work is easier than making it perfect on your first attempt.
11. Take a holiday
Well, pretend you’re taking a holiday. When you know it’s your last day in the office before a vacation, you develop a superpower that lets you accurately distinguish between the crucial tasks and the junk.
And if you’re not able to trick yourself, go the full hog and book that time off – after all, a rested brain is a productive brain. We can’t think of a better excuse than that.