Ever had a day in the office where you spent the bulk of your time doing meaningless tasks? You have a moment where you're like, “Ugh, today was a complete waste; I didn't get anything done.” Whether it's checking your email constantly throughout the day, or taking more breaks than you should, some days can be challenging accomplishing projects. If only you can save more time at the office. If you're this type of person, you certainly practice procrastination. Being a procrastinator is not all bad by any means, but if you often procrastinate, it will do you no good in the long run. Ultimately, it will kill the precious time you have at the office.
Situations like the ones mentioned above are not uncommon in the workplace. If there is a project a professional finds challenging (and even stressful), it's easy to dread doing the work. This mood may be because the worker is not excited about the project; or, that person is worried about the final result of the project. For example, writing out an analytical report to present to their boss and coworkers may not be the best report they put together. The worker may fear rejection, and they might be asked to rewrite the story again.
Luckily, it doesn't mean you'll lose your job, or it's the end of the world. From a worker's perspective, you can easily change practicing better habits and have a positive mindset in a matter of time. If you're a procrastinator, it won't be easy at first, but if you can make an effort, then you'll notice some changes in your work routine. In this article, I'll list out best practices to saving time while at the office. These tips include:
1. Prioritizing Your Most Important Tasks
2. Figuring Out Your Peak Time Of the Day
3. Quit Constantly Checking Your Email
4. Working On One Task At A Time (Despite The Convenience Of Multi-Tasking)
5. Clear Out Clutter At Your Workstation: Get Organized And Keep It Simple
Practice # 1 Prioritize Your Important Tasks At The Start Of Each Day
Whenever you start your workday, you want to make sure you determine what tasks need immediate attention. If it's writing a report, prioritize this task at the top of your to-do list. For example, if you have a project that needs to finish up within 48 hours, don't put it off the night before or morning that it's due. Unless you work very well under pressure, waiting until the last minute is an effective strategy.
As far as to-do lists, keep in mind that you want to make a list where you'll take action on completing those tasks. A lot of times, people will write a long “laundry ” list of functions on a given day so they can keep themselves busy. Unfortunately, I found that writing a long list, and I eventually don't get to the majority of the tasks I wrote down earlier. So not only I was unable to cross off every single task on my list, but I wasted time writing out dozens of jobs I probably wouldn't get to that day.
The way I write out my to-do lists are structured and straightforward. I usually separate my tasks into categories that help me figure out which jobs are more critical. For instance, I'll write out my essential functions under the” Priorities,” my maybe tasks under “If Time,” and then just some general reminders as well. These reminders could be shorter tasks, including scheduling appointments, to responding to emails. Here is a screenshot of what my typical worklist is like:
Practice # 2 Quit Constantly Checking Your Email
Do you find yourself checking your email first thing after you walk into the office? An email is an excellent tool for communicating with others. Still, it can be a huge time waster if not used properly. Particularly if you have a busy day when you need to stay focused, checking email as your first task can take up 20-30 minutes of valuable time. My suggestion to professionals is to utilize the last two hours of your day to check email. I say within the last two hours because, by that time, you've already completed the priorities on your to-do list and feel that you accomplished those crucial tasks. When the end of your day arrives, you'll know that you saved time for the little things, such as checking email. Even I've been more cautious about checking my email. I usually spend no more than 30 minutes a day reading and responding to emails. For this reason, I know I have other tasks that require more time and effort to produce the best outcome.
Practice # 3 Avoid Multi-Tasking & Work On One Task At A Time
Today in the modern era, multitasking has been a common practice among working professionals. Multitasking can be convenient and may be a requirement for some jobs. Still, there are disadvantages if you consider yourself a multitasker. We may think it's an effective way to get things done quicker and be more efficient. But even some little tasks combined with a more critical job can make completing a project even much longer to get done. So if you start working on a detailed report (including charts, graphs, and statistics) while keeping an eye on your email every 10 minutes or so, be aware that you're taking away time to focus on writing the report itself.
You may do some the reports say for 15 minutes, then check email for five minutes. Then, continue the description for another 10 minutes, and then recheck your email, only to find out you spend the next 25 minutes getting digested to reading your inbox.
Do you see what I'm getting at? All that time, checking your email could have gone towards getting a good portion of your report finished. If you figured out this pattern, you'd be amazed to see how time you could have saved by doing one task alone.
So my suggestion is to reduce multitasking and, whenever possible, spend time working on completing one task. Of course, multitasking shouldn't be avoided altogether in some job functions. There are times when multitasking will come in handy when people are short on time. But when it comes to completing tasks that require more time and effort to produce the best result, multitasking is not useful. I make it the best practice to complete one task at a time, so that way, I can create high-quality work and save even more time from combining both small and large jobs at hand.
Practice # 4 Use Your Peak Time Of The Day To Do Challenging Tasks
There are certain times of the day when we feel sluggish, while there is a time frame where we perform our best, and creativity is rolling through our minds. This term is what I commonly refer to peak time when someone can produce and get more done than at any other time of the day. I won't get into the science and data of the term, but I think it's quite fascinating. If you're a morning person and work a traditional 9-5 job, you're likely to get more things done during the morning hours. You're starting your day, you have your coffee, and you're ready to dive into work. But once the afternoon kicks in, you feel a slump and don't have much energy as you did in the morning. Many people experience this pattern on a typical day at the office. It's good to know that if you're this type of person, prioritize your challenging, more difficult tasks in the morning rather than at the end of the day.
Of course, not everybody operates on this schedule. For others, their bodies may perform the complete opposite of standard peak times. If you find that you're more alert in the afternoon, then utilize that time frame for more challenging work you need to get done. Some workers do better if they find the last couple of hours to be considered the final stretch. What I mean by this is if you have a few hours to go, some people will push themselves under pressure to get several tasks done before they head out of the office for the day. This strategy may not be suitable for those who wait for the last-minute meeting deadlines, but if they work well under pressure, this can work out from time to time.
Peak times can differ based on each individual's body. Personally, my peak time is usually around the late morning-mid afternoon hours (roughly between 10 am-3 pm). Then later in the day, I'll have another peak time in the evening hours (between 5 pm-8 pm). Any other time outside those peak hours, I'm usually not at my best, and I'll take breaks and stick to doing simple, mundane tasks instead. Whatever your peak time is, use that time frame to be productive and knock out more of the time-consuming tasks.
Practice # 5 Clean Out Clutter At Your Workstation-Get Organized & Stay Simple
If you struggle with getting things done while having a messy office desk, this is a “must” for you to be successful. There's nothing worse than having a dozen of crap lying around, and you have no idea where to start. Items such as empty bottles, old food, papers you no longer need, all of those things gotta go. If you have clutter sitting around, clear it up, and make room for only the things you need during the work hours. Also, it's excellent for you to stay on top of things and remain organized.
I consider myself very organized and somewhat of a clean freak. My workspace is never cluttered, but even if there are a few things on my desk that I don't need, I move it. It may look nice to have something on your desk, but if you're not using it, move it. Keep it simple.
To show you some illustrations of before and after, here are some images of my desk to get an idea of what your office should look like:
MESSY OR CLEAN
Hopefully, these were handy tips that can help you save more time at the office. Through reading articles, talking to others, and my personal experiences, there are so many bad habits that we get into while on the job. It's incredible how much I've learned over the years that these bad habits resulted in wasted time at work. Now that I know better now (and I continue to learn new practices as I grow up), I feel much more productive and make the most of my valuable time. Applying these practices to your daily work routine can make a significant difference for the better; and of course, avoid procrastinating if you're one of those people.
If you like to share some useful tips or want to leave a comment below, please do so. Also, please share this article with others.
Peak Time Performance: