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Make the most of your time

Do you find yourself leaving office without having completed any major tasks you had set for yourself? Here are a few simple ways to ensure you manage your time optimally.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2009 20:04 IST
Body & Soul

Do you find yourself leaving office without having completed any major tasks you had set for yourself? Or rushing through a project at the last minute because you didn’t have time? If your ‘to-do’ list constantly outnumbers your ‘completed’ list and you always feel like time is against you, perhaps the answer to the problem lies in lack of effective management of your resources, and most importantly, your time. Not only does inefficient working undermine your and ultimately your company’s output, it also slowly builds up your stress levels. Here are some tips on how you can become more efficient at work.

1. Learn to prioritise — Setting and organising your priorities makes working a whole lot easier. Make a list of priority tasks you need to get done for the day early in the morning, or better yet, the night before. And make sure you begin as soon as you get to work.

2. Set a time limit for tasks — Having a time structure in place is the key to a workable schedule. Set a specific deadline when you want to have each task completed. The time you assign to each task must be proportional to the importance of that task.

3. Tackle more difficult or bigger tasks first — That way, you will be able to relax, knowing that you no longer have the big tasks hanging over your head. This will help give you a lasting feeling of accomplishment and relief for the rest of the day. Make sure your mind is on the alert while doing such tasks. Save the easy things for slump time.

4. Organise your work space — Almost everyone wastes a lot of time rummaging through old papers and
unused notepads or trying to locate something on their desk. You can save yourself hours of grief by organising your desk/office so your space works with you and not against you. Knowing where everything is can make a big difference to your day.

5. Reduce socialising — Socialising usually eats up lot of time that could be used for getting things done. Leave conversations to your lunchtime. If you’re the one who tends to want to talk more than others, make it a point to hide yourself away until you get a good share of work done. If others are always wanting to talk to you, invest in a ‘do not disturb’ sign or simply explain to them that you have a ton of work to do with the promise to chat with them later.

6. Leave non-work related emails for later — Reading joke mails and others mails of the sort can take up a lot of your time, without you realising it. If it’s manageable, turn off your email completely and designate times to go through your inbox. You can also try creating a separate folder for all non-work related correspondence. Go through those in your breaks.

7. Stop multi-tasking — Shifting your attention between different things means your mind has to switch gears repeatedly. In fact, a constant multi-tasker may find that they are more exhausted at the end of the day than
someone who focuses on one thing at a time. Keep your
attention on one project. This way, the job will seem less overwhelming, and you’ll find that it takes you less time to get your work done, freeing some time for life outside the office.

8. Delegate work — You only have 24 hours and sometimes it’s hard to get everything done in that time frame. Don’t do everything yourself and done be afraid to delegate tasks because you think people can’t do the job as good as you. If you can delegate and train your people, you will get more accomplished at the end of the day. Ask a reliable colleague to handle one of your responsibilities (if possible) and then return the favour the next time he or she is swamped. This exercise is also good for effective team-building .

9. Learn to say ‘No’ — Many people are afraid to say no because they worry that they may appear unfriendly and arrogant. But if you want to be more efficient, you must focus on your priorities. In such a scenario, any request that doesn’t fit or distract your focus should be rejected. And always remember, you don’t need to justify or
provide a long explanation about why you are saying ‘no’.

10. Make a to-do list at the end of each day — In the last little bit of your work day, make a to-do list of things to get done the next day.

Remember to put the tough stuff first on the list and the smaller things for later in the day when your brain is starting to wear down. Be as detailed as you want, just don’t overwhelm yourself. When you start the next workday, you’ll feel more organised, more alert, and being able to cross each task off your list is going to give you a sense of accomplishment.