Tips management tips #2
Creating efficient habits in the workplace is one of the best ways to improve your time management. But it can be hard to shake off the old, unproductive ones.
Here are a few tips to help you create effective habits in the workplace.
1. Turn key tasks into routines
My to-do list is a daily task for me. I update it every single morning, first thing over coffee. I have tried a variety of apps and use a combination of ClickUp (for larger projects), Microsoft To-Do (for little daily lists) and Google Keep (for personal thoughts, notes, links, pictures etc). I do love the concept of paper lists and journaling, but I’m trying to minimise my footprint on this earth.
It may seem like a massive undertaking for some people, but it’s very manageable for me now because it is habitual. I rarely break this routine. Because of this, my mind is in the habit of doing this task. It has become quite natural and enjoyable. After a short while – you may find it becomes enjoyable for you, too.
2. Get smarter about screen time
Time spent browsing social media, gaming or watching TV can be one of the biggest drainers or productivity.
Of course, we are not robots and need downtime – and the above are great for that. But being more aware of how much time you spend on these activities will help you create productive workplace habits.
Let’s say you’ve recorded the time and on average you spend 4 hours a day watching TV, online shopping and on Facebook. That’s your downtime. This is completely okay if you are happy with this amount of time each day spent as downtime.
It shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure. Don’t feel bad about trading some of your valuable time to recharge, particularly when you have been productive for the rest of the day. On the flipside, don’t complain about being super busy, not getting anything done or having ‘no time to exercise’ either.
What you do with your downtime is voluntary, and you have chosen to use it up on these activities.
3. Set yourself a time limit
Instead of just sitting down to work on a project and thinking ‘I’m going to be here until this is done,’ try thinking ‘I’m going to work on this for three hours’.
This time constraint will push you to focus and be more efficient, even if you end up having to go back and add a bit more later.
Putting a time limit on tasks can also prevent simply going brain dead and sitting there achieving nothing. There are many studies on how much time you should focus is one session and they are varied. What I learnt from these studies is that every individual is different. If you know you have a short focus span, then space your work out in 40 minute chunks. You will work more efficiently and get more done in the long run.
“Putting a time limit on tasks can also prevent simply going brain dead and sitting there achieving nothing.”
4. Leave a buffer-time between tasks
When we rush from task to task, it’s difficult to appreciate what we’re doing and stay focused and motivated.
Allowing ourselves down-time between tasks can be a breath of fresh air for our brains. While taking a break, go for a short walk, meditate, or do something you really enjoy – like a bit of that online shopping!
5. Don’t think of the totality of your to-do list
One of the fastest ways to overwhelm yourself is to think about your massive to-do list. The easiest way to avoid this one is not to have one that is massive in the first place. Make sure your tasks are in smaller manageable chunks so you can actually achieve something.
At each point in time, all you can do is focus on the one task before you.
6. Exercise and eat healthy
Numerous studies have linked a healthy lifestyle with work and productivity. Like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthily will boost energy levels, clear your mind and allow you to focus more easily.
Personally, I find this one challenging (though I do try!). If I am stuck in a rut and not being very productive, I do 20 minutes of something that moves my body either outdoors or even grocery shopping. I understand how hard it can be to get up and get going, but you always feel better afterwards.
Or sometimes, I get loads of tasks done and dusted with the company of a kit-kat and a coffee – whatever works! Moderation is key, right?
“One of the fastest ways to overwhelm yourself is to think about your massive to-do list.”
Be gentle with yourself when you’re implementing these – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were long-lasting habits. Commit to trying some (or all, if you’re feeling ambitious!) of these for 3-4 weeks. Then, reassess to see if any habits need to be tweaked or aren’t working, and what has become second nature to you.
I’m sure you’ll find they add a lot of value (and time!) to your day.
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