Ok, be honest. How many of you have slapped “excellent time management skills” on to your resume? Here’s the real question. How many of you truly elicit these skills? I’ve always thought of myself as one of those efficient, well-organized, productive types. But it occurred to me the other day — as I was researching this blog while skyping my co-worker and talking to a client on the phone and skimming an email that just popped into my inbox — that perhaps I am not actually utilizing my time to the best of my abilities.
Here are 5 quick tips that might help you—and me—win the Most Productive Person in the Office award this year.
1. Make a list.
A great strategy is to prioritize your list of things to do per day, putting tasks with the highest priority at the top. A good rule of thumb is to do the things that will enable others first (allowing them to ultimately be more productive). Planning ahead is important. The time you spend thinking ahead and planning your activities is trivial compared with the time you'll lose jumping from one thing to the next (and rarely completing anything).
2. Manage time in increments.
Plan on doing one task for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. Then switch!
3. Take a break!
Your brain needs a little refresh time. Stand up, do a quick walk around the office and interact with some human beings. Make a cup of tea, or drink a glass of water. Studies show that drinking water will help boost energy, elevate your mood and prevent headaches. Don’t drink toooo much though, otherwise you’ll waste precious time with extra bathroom breaks .
4. Just say no.
You’re the boss. If you have to decline a request in order to attend to what’s truly important and urgent, do not hesitate to do so.
5. Limit your distractions.
Close down the 4 (or 14) other browser windows you have open, put your phone on mute, and avoid answering emails unless they are critical. This will help alleviate the middle-of-your-task texts and “quick” Facebook scans. Save those for your break! (See number 3) Then put music on that helps you focus, and that you won’t have to switch often.
And that’s it! I guess I’ll be seeing you at the annual awards banquet. I’ll be the one making a list of what to choose from the buffet table first.