Do you ever look at that friend of yours who has accomplished more before noon than you got done all week, and after loathing them, wonder how they do it? We’re all given the same amount of hours in a day and we all need to sleep, so what makes some of us super heroes, while the rest of us are wondering where the day went? As their capes wisp past your desk, watch and learn. They’re probably doing a lot of these things.
Create Prioritized Lists
All right, so this is pretty common sense, but often forgotten. How many times a day do you think, “I have to remember to do ____” or “I’ll definitely return that email later”, and it never gets done. Write it down in order of importance, even the small things. It is often the small things that fall through the cracks and create bottlenecks of work. I prefer to use “Notes” on my iPhone, which sync to my iPad and MacBook. No matter where I am or what device I have, my to-do list is a touch away. Each check is a small victory leading to a stress-free 5:00.
Get Your Time-Wasters In Check
First off, write them down. Write down all the things that you let distract you when you’re supposed be getting work done. Consider how much time you waste on them. Then consider how often you complain about not having enough time. Log out of social networks or sites that lead to wandering off task. It is a much different action, typing in a user name and password than simply clicking on a tab. The red dot is less alluring when it’s not there.
Get Checking, In Check
It has been proven that email is actually a huge time waster at work. The average employee checks their email an astonishing 36 times/hour. That is just ridiculous. Yes, email is an important communication tool, but it doesn’t need to be scanned every two minutes (No offense, but you’re probably not that important, no one is!). Checking your email less frequently keeps your mind on the task at hand. When you don’t have to refocus every couple of minutes, more work gets done faster.
Take Care of Yourself
Have you ever noticed that “sluggish” is often a term that translates both to aesthetics as well as attitude? The more energy you have, the more work you can accomplish. I can’t even write, “Get 8 hours of sleep every night” with a straight face. For most of us, additional sleep isn’t an option, but more water, better eating choices and more activity are. Ever wonder why the P90X expert/triathalon pro of the office is always the overachiever? It's annoying, but it's true.
Just do it already! At the end of the day, this is your time that you’re wasting. If the task doesn’t get done at work, you’re most likely going to take it home. As you stare down the computer and contemplate another trip to the water cooler, just start. Much like the gym or cleaning, getting started is the hardest part. A very helpful trick I learned is to make a deal with yourself about the start of a project. Tell yourself that if you just get it started, whether that means an outline, a first paragraph or even a half hour of work, you get a break. Quite often I’ll skip the break and just keep going. Sometimes I take the break, but getting going again is much easier now that I have an intro into the project or task.
It was very surprising to me to learn that less than 60% of the average employee’s work time is actually spent productively. If you do the math for a 40-hour work week, that equates to about 24 hours/week wasted. That’s your life! That’s your work! Get better at doing it.