Time Management: How to Get the Most Out of Your Day
We live in an era where it’s fashionable to overwork: employees are praised for staying late at the office, and not getting enough ‘downtime’ in aid of trawling through an ever-growing workload is met with high-fives and rewards.
But, there’s no need to scurry from task to task or stretch yourself beyond a healthy routine. There are enough hours in the day to achieve everything you want to achieve – after all, “…you have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein”, as H Jackson Brown Junior says!
Little by little, the idea of working smarter, not harder, is beginning to creep into our consciousness. Here’s how you can manage your time to get the most out of your day…
First, list your tasks and complete the most important ones first
You won’t achieve anything unless you know exactly what’s on the agenda, so at the start of every day, take stock of what you want to accomplish. Each task should take no longer than an hour or so.
Then, pick the three that are most crucial to complete (you can get software plugins like Upraise if you need help objective-setting like this). Do these tasks first and know that your day has been a success if you’ve been able to meet the ‘essentials’!
Then, pick a handful of the rest to complete with the remaining time you have as an added bonus.
Next, use equipment that makes you more efficient
If your processes are slowing you down, you’re wasting time. So, make sure you’re using the right technology. Is your computer running quickly enough? Is your internet connection reliable? Is your software up to handling the tasks you need to perform? Upgrade whatever is letting you down so that you’re making the most of every minute of your day.
Yes, really! Busy people will tell you that you can get more done by cutting back on sleep – working later, or rising earlier to cram things in before the kids are up or the working day officially begins. But, the fact is, not getting enough sleep is bad for you.
Sleep deprivation, even by just a few hours over a period of days, is going to make it harder to concentrate, your responses are going to be slower and you’ll probably take longer to perform even simple tasks. So, invest the hours overnight: your work will be of much higher quantity and quality the next day.
This is a very obvious tip, but you’ll get the most out of your day by setting aside time for play and time for leisure. While you’re working, remove every possibility of distraction: close those extra internet tabs, put your phone out of sight and immerse yourself in the task in front of you. Reward yourself with 15-minute breaks between tasks – it will help you to feel like you’re still getting some ‘me’ time without it ruining your productivity.
In fact, regular breaks are a good idea full stop: you’ll refresh yourself between periods of high-intensity work so that you’re ready to tackle the next thing on your do list with maximum energy.
Set yourself a time limit
Finally, give yourself a time frame to complete a piece of work in. Rather than insisting that you keep persevering until something is complete, afford yourself a time window so that you’re forced to focus and be more efficient with your time. You can come back to it the next day if you don’t manage to complete it within your allocated window.