Have you ever come into work on a Monday morning with a long to-do list, or switched your laptop on to tonnes of emails? Ever had that feeling that you don’t have enough hours in the day or feel overwhelmed by your workload?
If the answer is yes, you’re not alone!
Here are a few ways to help you get the most out of your time whilst at work.
Too often when we have a long to-do list we like to tick off the easier tasks first to whittle down the length of the list. This can often make us feel good because we have completed something! However, this means the larger or more difficult tasks may be left until last.
One way to have a smarter to-do-list is to rank your tasks and split them into categories based on how important and how urgent each task is. Tasks which are both urgent and important should be dealt with first, and those not urgent and not important handled last, with anything else in between.
We talk about the 4D model in our ‘How to Remove Barriers’ blog. This is also called a time management matrix and it can be used to decide when actions need to be done and who by. We also discuss the pareto rule.
Use your Calendar
One thing that many people forget to do is to allocate time to their tasks, as not everything on a to-do-list will take the same amount of time.
One way to do this is by using your desktop calendar. Estimate how long each task should take and then block them in your calendar as ‘fixed time slots’. These slots are dedicated times for you to perform set tasks without distractions such as other demands or emails.
Every day include a buffer period as your ‘flexible time slot’. This is your contingency time, let’s say 1-hour at the end of the day. If you underestimated the duration of a task and need time to finish it off or received an unexpected email that needs adding to your to-do-list, this is the time to do such tasks. Reducing your distractions and not jumping from task to task so frequently should improve efficiency and help you better control your to-do-list.
Time of day
Take notice of how your productivity levels fluctuate throughout the day. If you are super productive after a morning coffee but tend to flag after lunch, then make sure you do the more complex tasks first thing.
Same with days of the week, if you find you are fatigued by the time you get to a Friday then don’t leave the challenging work until then, look to deal with them earlier in the week and structure your work plan so you have less strenuous tasks for the Friday.
Ask for help
There’s no I in Team – use your teammates! Read the room – if someone looks quiet then ask them for help, or if its hard to tell try simply asking the room if anyone has any spare capacity that week, chances are someone will.
This works both ways though so if you see someone else looking stressed then offer to give them a hand. The more you do this for other people (without putting too much pressure on your own workload), the more others are likely to help you.
If you’re in a management role, try delegating some work but ensure you factor in time at the beginning to give instructions and time to review what they have done at the end.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more time
If you have tried all the above strategies and your workload is still too demanding, then it’s probably time to flag this to your manager. They might be unaware of how much work you have on or think that you can manage so being honest may mean that you are given an extension or even additional support such as support staff.
Being able to demonstrate the actions you have taken to manage your workload above will be good evidence for this type of conversation.
Here at Robson Laidler our Accelerator team work with businesses large and small on time management techniques. We also have lots of software options to help take pressure off in terms of running your business. Take a look at our Time Saving blog.
For more support on time management techniques contact our accelerator team here