There will never be enough time in a day to do everything you want to do. The key is working out what’s important and getting it done first.
It’s not always easy but learning to manage your time efficiently is something that helps at work and out of it. These are the 10 things I do to get the most out of my time.
Beware to do lists
Tempting as it is to create a massive to do list of tasks there’s no point setting yourself up to fail. It’s better to pick 3-5 tasks and focus on completing them. It’s inevitable you’ll need to add extra tasks in so this will give you some wiggle room.
Focus on priorities
Spend 15 minutes first thing working out your priorities. Figure out the urgency and importance of each task, I use Eisenhower’s Principle to do this. Tackle the most urgent and most important task first.
Do one thing at a time
It’s tempting to try and do a million things at once, but focusing on one thing at a time is a lot more efficient. Decide on a task and don’t do anything else until you’ve finished it.
Get rid of distractions
There’s nothing more distracting than an email popping up in the corner of your screen or someone texting you. Turn your phone on silent and put it somewhere that you can’t see it and turn notifications off on your laptop. If you can’t see it, you’re a lot less likely to be tempted to check it.
Learn to say no
Your time is valuable and you need to treat it that way. So when someone asks you to “just take a look at this” think ‘is it urgent and important’? If so then take a look. If not, ask them to email you or arrange a meeting to discuss it.
Every meeting you attend should have a specific aim and an agenda you stick to like glue – it should be the organiser’s job to sort this. Appoint someone to take notes and send around a list of tasks and key points immediately afterwards.
If it gets to the middle of the meeting and there’s no point in you being there, politely excuse yourself. There is no point in wasting time.
Use a tool to keep track of time
If you find it hard to keep track of how long you spend on tasks, use a tool like todoist or Toggle to work out where your time is going. It’s a really useful way to start working out if you’re wasting time on something that isn’t important or to flag the need to find a process you can adopt to make a task easier.
Take a break
You should never be too busy to take a break if you plan well. Make the effort to eat lunch away from your desk and let yourself take a trip to the coffee machine. Getting out of your seat and having a change of scenery can help to clear your mind and give you fresh ideas.
If you’re stuck on a task, it’s easy to sit and stew for half an hour. Either ask for help, or move on to something else and come back to it later once you’ve had chance to think. The least efficient thing is struggling and scrolling.
Turn off when you go home
Don’t let work rule your life. Your aim should be to go home at the end of the day stress free. If that’s not happening, you need to work out why and change something.