How we spend our time determines the quality of our life. Over the course of each workweek, over 80% of us waste 10-15 hours on unnecessary interruptions, procrastination, and clutter. Consider how much more money you could make if you were productive during those 10-15 hours. Or consider how much more fun you could have if you had an extra 10-15 hours off each week. If you are ready to maximize your workweek, start with these simple eight strategies.
1. Consider your lifestyle, preferences, and values then create an effective time management system that suits you.
Find a useful time management system that works for you. We all have different preferences about where, when, and how to complete tasks and activities. It will be much easier to accomplish more in less time when you honor those preferences.
2. Establish visiting hours.
You can reduce unnecessary interruptions while offering people the opportunity to communicate with you in a relaxed setting but establishing and enforcing visiting hours. My recommendation is to keep your office door open during established visiting hours and closed at all other times.
3. Optimize your creativity.
People who are creative need a space and a place to record sudden ideas, inspirations, and thoughts that can be distracting during task mode. Keep a tape recorder, notebook, or file nearby to record both simple and complex ideas. The iPhone and many of the other smart phones offer a voice recorder application that makes it simple to record an idea or thought and then quickly get back to the task at hand.
4. Put a dollar value on your time.
How much time do you spend per day: Locating papers? Looking for misplaced items? Duplicating efforts? Being annoyed because you can’t find things? Dealing with interruptions that are unnecessary? Total this time. Next, determine what your time is worth. If you earn $50,000 per year and work an average of 40 hours per week, your time is worth $24 per hour. If you’re wasting 10 hours every week, that is worth $240 to you. Type up a sign to post above your desk that says: “Is what I am doing right now worth $24?” You could also word it like this: “Would I be willing to pay someone $24 to do what I am doing right now?” Just looking at that sign throughout the day will shift what you spend your time doing. You will automatically start spending your more time on productive revenue generating tasks and less time on minutia.
5.Think “worst in, first out.” Or delegate unfavorable tasks.
One of the biggest enemies of a well-managed day is procrastination. Procrastination often begins because we don’t like the task, do not have the correct equipment, or we don’t have sufficient information to make a decision. The worst problems should be handled first. Once you get them done, you can then move on to the fun stuff. If the procrastination continues, either delegate the task or hire someone to complete the task for you.
6. Organize your work in batches.
Set up specific time slots each day to return voice mails and emails, work on projects, and so on. By simply batching your work, you will get more done in less time. Start by making a list of all of the tasks that need to get done and separate them by daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Schedule them on your calendar in batches. For example, schedule two appointments each day to check and return emails and voice mails. Schedule an appointment each week to send out client invoices, and so on.
7. Limit distractions.
When working on important projects, close the door, turn off the phone, and place a sign on your door that reads: “Man or woman at work. Please return at *insert your visiting hour*.” Use this uninterrupted time to complete important projects. On your calendar, mark out an appointment with yourself every day to work on your important projects. Treat the appointment like it is an important appointment with your doctor. If something gets in the way of your appointment, reschedule the appointment with yourself, just like you would reschedule your doctor’s appointment.
8. Each day, practice saying “NO” at least 10 times.
More often than not, the act of saving time involves saying “no” to other people. If it is hard for you to say “no,” practice a variety of responses ten times a day. Examples of appropriate responses include: “I would love to attend, but unfortunately, I cannot make it,” or “I am flattered that you asked me, and I am unfortunately too busy to do justice to the project at this time,” or “No, thank-you,” or “No.” By saying “no” you are honoring your own life and goals.
Heidi is a professional organizer, creator of The Fast-Filing Method home filing system, & publisher of Life Made Simple e-Magazine. Heidi energizes her readers’ lives by teaching effective organizational systems to help you accomplish more & GAIN peace of mind! Visit ClearSimpleLiving.com to get a complimentary subscription AND a FREE Home Organization Kit.