Do you feel like you just can’t get it all done during the work week? If so, you’re not alone! Many professionals, including those on our team, feel this way. While there may be times when our workload increases and it’s normal to have a short period of time feeling behind. Or a time when we struggle to get back to the routine after a vacation… If you always feel that your tasks are controlling you instead of the other way around, you may need some help with your productivity. Consider the following three strategies to take control!
Track your time. To gauge where you spend the majority of your time at work, track your time and activity for two weeks. Use an app or a notebook to write down (be honest with yourself!) how much time you spend on your work tasks, your lunch breaks, chatting with coworkers, in meetings, emails, etc. Anything and everything should go on your log. At the end of each week, add up how much time went into each activity. You may be surprised to find too much time going into less important emails or conversations with teammates. Once you’ve written your log, analyze it and decide how you can channel that time into more important tasks so that you feel you can get everything done in the day.
Prioritize your tasks. Organizing and prioritizing your task load each day and each week is the best way to stay in control of your schedule. Start weekly: Take 15-20 minutes every Monday to look through your pending tasks and new or old projects needing work or completion for the week and prioritize them. Then set deadlines for each task. Finally, determine how much time you will need to accomplish each task and map that out on an Excel sheet. Block out those times in your work calendar to work exclusively on those projects.
You also should take a few minutes at the beginning of each day to prioritize your daily tasks. Write down what you need to accomplish; and the top 3 tasks you must accomplish that day. This will help you avoid getting sidetracked on less important tasks. Turn off your email and cell phone while you are working exclusively on a prioritized item.
Create a routine for repetitive tasks. Having a set schedule for daily tasks in the office can be helpful for your brain. When you group together smaller types of tasks such as emails and complete those all at once, you will be able to fly through them more efficiently because it’s the same type of task and requires the same type of thinking. Of course, not everyone can control their schedule this much but, try to create as much structure within the parameters of your job as possible. When determining a routine, think about the following:
- Decide which small tasks you could group together every day and decide when you will do them.
- Consider when you are most productive (morning or afternoon) for tougher tasks.
- Think about your typical workflow and deadlines.
- Create an ideal schedule for yourself using certain days of the week for specific tasks, as well as times of the day and use it as a reference for your routine.