How to work efficiently when you have a full plate of tasks and only so many hours hours in a day to do them? If your like me, I am sure you have wanted more than 24 hours in a given day. The obvious solution to this is planning. Planning days down to the last detail. But what is the best way to work efficiently and do as much as possible in a single day?
Many people fool themselves into thinking they are good at multitasking. But actually very few can solidly focus on more than 1 or two tasks, particularly if they require focus and depth. They fool themselves into believing they are getting more done when in reality they are accomplishing less and the quality of the work is poor. Really efficient people know that concentrated effort with few distractions leads to better work product in faster times. Otherwise the work may not be up to par, which means wasting even more time and energy going back to fix the mistakes.
Prepare Your Workload the Day Before
Instead of sitting down at your desk without any sort of clue about which project to tackle, you should make a game plan. Go through your to-dos and prioritize them based on urgency. Make a list of the things that need to be done and assign each one a deadline. That way, you’ll keep yourself on task—and on time—during your workday without feeling stressed.
- Put documents you will need to work at home on an USB stick (portable drive) if your office does not allow access to shared drive from home.
- Take all your colleagues phone numbers with you.
- Email yourself or save reminder in your calendar.
- Put in your calendar that you will be at home and cannot be available for meetings, so all your colleagues know about it
You can’t be creative with clutter surrounding you. So take the time—either at the end of your day or before starting work—to clear your space of any extra items. Decide which office items you really need to have on your desk and what can be stored in desk drawers or filed away. And most importantly, determine what can be thrown away.
The Touch-It-Once Rule
The Touch-It Once rule goes like this: If you have opened an email that requires you to answer it, then answer it right away. Do not procrastinate answering and avoid thinking about this email you have to answer, just answer it right away and be done with it. There are several effects of this; the most obvious one is that important emails that need to be answered are not just lying around in your inbox. Also, your inbox is more tidy, and when opening your inbox you only look at unanswered emails received since yesterday afternoon and not since the start of time.
So much productivity is lost when people take on more than they can accomplish. Don’t be inspired by CEOs and leaders who overload their schedules and burn the midnight oil. Really efficient people are extremely good at delegating tasks to others who will perform them better. When you know how to break down a task and empower others to contribute effort, you can choose the tasks most suited for you and crank through them in record time without distraction.
Give Everything a Proper Place
A lot of time is wasted chasing down lost items. Keys, pens and clothing hunts can cause distraction and frustration, especially when you have something important to do or somewhere important to be. People get really efficient from being organized. Establish a home for all the items you have. Factories that practice LEAN create common homes for necessary tools of the trade. You can do the same. Organize clothes, papers and electronics in a way that you can easily find what you are looking for. It may take you a few extra minutes to put things away but you’ll save a ton of time and irritation from having to search for what’s important.