It’s Monday morning, already your inbox is bulging, and you think you might just as well go home again. You just don’t know where to start. Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone.
An unmanageable workload is one of the biggest causes of workplace stress, and can feel like pouring water into a leaky bucket. So read on to find out how to manage your workload and get more done with these ten time-saving ideas for work.
Analyze your Time
If you seem to working hard all day with not much to show for it, then try taking a time audit. Note down everything you do daily over the course of a week, to see how exactly you spend your time. The smallest things can be the biggest time wasters.
So monitor your time in the office to find out where the time is going and exercise more control of your day accordingly. Crucially, if you find you spend a lot of time doing things other people should be doing, then make sure you hand over the reins.
It’s all too easy to put off unpleasant or difficult jobs in favour of easy more enjoyable work. And so prioritising will help you manage your workload more effectively. At the beginning of the day or week, write out a schedule of work and mark each job P or NP. (Priority or Non-Priority).
Work through all the priority tasks first, before tackling the others. To pre-empt any concerns about you not having delivered any NP tasks, show your manager your schedule (maybe create it online) and explain your reasoning behind it. This will also help you clarify the importance of each task.
Communication is essential but can also be one of the biggest eaters of time. To cut the amount of time spent on communicating, tackle each in chunks of time rather than throughout the day. If your office has business phone systems, screen calls to avoid non urgent conversations, and call everyone back during a specified hour using the call log.
Similarly, don’t reply to non-urgent emails as they come in – set aside an ‘email hour’ to reply. Remember too that while chatting with colleagues can be tempting, it can also waste a great deal of time. Try and set a ‘chat reward’ couple of minutes between jobs to control the temptation to chew the cud.
Be Organized and Prepared
No one wants to stay longer in the office than necessary, but tidying your desk and preparing for meetings will save time. Always make sure you have a clear idea of what it is you need to say or ask at meetings, and gather together all the relevant information the day before.
Take Time Out
Although this can sound counter-productive, taking time out from work helps you refresh and recharge ready for the next onslaught of work. How quickly and efficiently we work depends on how energised and focused we are. So making sure you take time off dedicated to things you enjoy, will actually help you get more done.
Rob Rudd has been working in a busy office environment for the last 20 years. During that time he has seen the rise of email and Internet distractions and how they affect productivity. He has created these guidelines from his own experiences.