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You’re busy all day, every day. But why does it feel like you’re going nowhere, fast? Keep these tips in mind before you get sucked into another whirlwind of tasks. Which do you think will work for you?
by Marella Castro, 20 June 2017
Looking busy may be part of office culture, but you don’t have to be buried up to your neck in work to prove that you’re getting work done. Just get your work done and on time. No one is handing out awards for Best in Swamped, you know.
Know your habits, and then change them. Make a time log of your daily activities as you go. Analyze where you devote your time and how you accomplish tasks. Recognize your own time wasters. For activities which take you longer than necessary, come up with ways to do them better and faster. Let this be your new mantra: Minimum effort, maximum efficiency.
Exercise quick decision-making to reduce document overload: action it, file it, or delete it. Clearing your desk will also clear your mind. But do remember to keep track of where everything is. You’ll be fighting a losing battle if you (again) must take out all the papers and knickknacks you put away, just to find an important document.
To-Do Lists are great but don't let them get out of control. Remember, not all tasks are created equal. The crucial ones, those that contribute to your bottom line, usually aren't the most urgent. You can answer every call, email, and memo on your desk and still accomplish next to nothing. Don't let urgent tasks dominate your life. Focus on what’s important. Prioritize.
When an assignment is daunting and expectations are running high, what do you see yourself doing? Right, you overthink. If you catch yourself in the act, find ways to simply get the ball rolling. Is it taking more than 15 minutes to start? Change activity or change your approach. Worry about quality later. The right decision will come to you when you’re warmed up like a well-oiled machine.
Don’t just fill up your organizer with mundane chores. Be strategic and know your priorities. Do your most important work when your focus levels are high, then schedule the rest of your activities for another time. Keep important tasks from becoming urgent and you'll be sailing stress-free.
Are you being effective in your endeavors or is it all just a waste of time? Having regular project updates will let you know if what you’re doing is a step in the right direction. Better find out sooner than later if you’ve been barking up the wrong tree, and change tactic before it’s too late. Use project management tools to keep in sync.
Why not make a game out of crunch time to make it fun? Use a stopwatch to time your efficiency and work to beat your own record! This will give you practice in finishing a job in one sitting. It also solves the problem of continuously trying to build up momentum whenever you stop to shuffle between tasks.
Hey, let’s face it. You have to maintain rapport with your boss, clients, and workmates—all of whom compete for your time—or you might not have a desk to get back to in the morning. You don't have to hide in the broom closet to get things done. When the task requires collaboration, you actually need your team to survive. Make sure they understand how you manage your time, so they can work better with you. They may even be inspired to do the same! More wins for the team!
You may want to be a little Zen for this one. Procrastination is a cruel mistress. You may think you need a crisis to be laser-focused and hyper productive, but that's really just you making up an excuse. Get real about the reasons for your lack of motivation. Is it fear of failure, burnout, perfectionism, unclear plans for execution, or do you just need to be reminded on the benefits of achieving your goal? When you understand why you keep putting things off, you'll have a better chance of overcoming it.
Now, all that’s left for you to do is start.