We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” If you’re bogged down to the point where you don’t think there are enough hours in the day, it might be time to rethink how you’re prioritizing your workflow. Whether you’re an upstart who just landed your first gig or a seasoned veteran looking to streamline your processes, here are 10 tips to make every hour count.
1. Visualize Your Ideal Workday
Before you begin any tasks, sit back, close your eyes and imagine what needs to happen to make today the perfect work day. What tasks do you need to complete? What do you want to accomplish? Thinking about how you can do your work better puts you in a positive frame of mind and helps you distinguish what work you absolutely need to get done.
2. Minimize Your Distractions
Sure, you might want to take a quick break to update your fantasy hockey pool, but small distractions like Facebook, Twitter and texts can quickly eat into your working day. Set aside a few minutes at specific times of the day to check your email, phone calls, texts, memos and (assuming you have a tolerant boss) social media so that you aren’t constantly pulled away from your work.
3. Kill the Clutter
While some pundits claim that a messy desk is the sign of an overly creative mind, such optics also signal a lack of organization. Chances are, you’ll spend almost as much time shuffling through that pile of paper to find the necessary documents as you would completing the task at-hand. Dedicate five minutes near the end of the day to filing those papers or organizing important documents on your computer. As for extra sheets and files, recycle anything you no longer need and try to make a habit out of organizing things as they come in.
4. Establish Deadlines
Many professionals live and die by the deadline, and while your tasks might not have specific end dates, it’s still a handy rule to establish deadlines. If you don’t set these looming dates, you might be incentivized to let a job sit to the point where it’s never addressed. Just because a task lacks urgency doesn’t diminish its importance; make deadlines so that projects don’t pile up, as this can be problematic when other projects are coming down the road.
5. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
Successful people in business believe that nobody ever plans to fail—they just fail to plan. With that in mind, part of that planning process should involve prioritizing how you should deal with issues and opportunities. Weigh the importance of each task and consider what needs to be accomplished first. Prioritizing at the end of the day is a great way to clear your head, so you’re fresh to take those assignments on the next morning. At the end of the week and month, plan accordingly to ensure you know how to address long-term projects.
6. Sweat the Small Stuff First
Marathon runners don’t take off in a sprint immediately after they lace up their sneakers. Instead, they spend the start of their session stretching, limbering up and getting their heads into the game. The same should be true of your workday. Get small items out of the way to motivate yourself with easy wins. Return those messages, answer those emails and respond to memos. Build off of this momentum to tackle the tougher projects without having to sweat the small stuff.
7. Think and Do… in that Order
Most workers are more on-the-ball mentally in the morning than the afternoons. If your energy seems to follow that daily pattern, organize your workday to match how your mind and body work. Dedicate tasks that require more problem-solving and analytical thought, like budget reporting, in the morning (after your quick wins!) and spend the afternoons in meetings and strategy sessions.
8. Upgrade Your Technology
A Commodore 64 hooked up to a dot-matrix printer isn’t going to cut it in the fast-paced world we work in. These days, software designed for efficiency plays a larger role in an organization’s workflow than ever before. By automating administrative tasks, software can shave minutes off the time it takes to complete a project, opening doors for employees to take on new tasks. Make sure that you choose the right hardware and software that suits the needs of your company before investing in those assets. If you’re looking to automate your purchasing workflow, take advantage of the time-saving features offered by Procurify.
9. Upgrade Yourself
Companies who have the welfare of their employees in mind believe in investing in their education. Whether that means learning how to operate new software or taking a course on different programming languages, look for opportunities to improve your skills. Time spent learning outside the office will be more than made up for when you can put those skills to use in your daily workflow.
10. Get Some Help
If you’re spending more time than you’d like on a particular project, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from someone whose skill set is stronger in that particular area. If possible, get your boss to distribute assignments to personnel who’ve demonstrated their strength in similar tasks. If you’re a boss or manager, delegate jobs that might be too much for you to handle to those in your force who can easily take them on. The result? You’ll spend less time on tasks and be able to take on new opportunities. This also cuts down on workplace stress by pairing workers with suited assignments.
Many of these ideas require a change of attitude and the adaptation of new habits, but you’ll quickly notice their effects on your everyday efficiency.
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