Failing to manage your time hijacks headspace and is a shortcut to work-related stress. Kiss goodbye to wasted hours and half-done ‘to do’ lists with these tried and tested tips…
Establish a routine
From grabbing your morning coffee to telephoning clients, try to schedule them in at the same time every day. Routine leaves little room for distraction and helps make every minute matter.
Tear up your supersize to-do list
Avoid creating a single to-do list. The list (and your face) will end up as long as an orangutan’s arm. Instead, create several according to priority i.e. today/end of week/end of month.
Create some mail order
Set aside a specific time to deal with must-respond messages, stick to it and switch off mobile and web notifications. Realise the coveted ‘inbox zero’ by; creating folders and filing religiously, archiving emails that don’t require a response, ruthlessly unsubscribing to newsletters you never read.
Set aside daily GSD time
That’s ‘get sh*t done’ time to you and I; a period in which to concentrate and achieve. Beware! This is the time most easily squandered and the reason you’re working late again. Diarise it and get your head down! If you’re immune to the lure of daytime TV, consider doing this work from home.
Make meetings matter
Stop arranging or agreeing to meetings that are agenda-less or lack clear end goals. Quit travelling miles to nod and smile when a conference call version of you will do!
If posting to social media is part of your job, schedule updates in advance with a programme such as Hootsuite. It’s too easy to get lost several times a day inside the twilight zone otherwise known as Facebook…
Expect the unexpected
Set aside 30 minutes per day to make room for impromptu interruptions. This way, should you get waylaid by a chatty manager or held to ransom by a temperamental photocopier, you and your watertight timetable won’t fall to pieces.
Break it up
Going for the work burn on one day = a big dip in productivity the next. Consider tackling your tasks in manageable, even enjoyable, chunks. Try out the Pomodoro technique; using the timer on your mobile to work at 25 min intervals, separating each with a short break.
Schedule in self-care
Whilst you’re busy creating the leaner, meaner productive you, don’t forget to pencil in a healthy lunch break and a spot of exercise (even if it’s just a brisk walk in the local park). Adhering to both will boost energy levels and mental clarity.
There are lots of organisational tools out there to help make post-its, spreadsheets and blind panic a thing of the past. There’s Trello (ideal for seeing solo tasks through stress free) and Asana (perfect for project management and free for teams up to 15).
For creating simple to-do lists, think Google Tasks. For managing personal tasks, opt for Outlook task manager.