If you’re regularly reaching for your second or third cup of coffee each day, or constantly feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated, it’s time to evaluate—and fix—the way you utilize your time and know when to step back before burnout sets in. The following tips can help you plan, prioritize, stay on track, and reduce your stress level.
Become a daily planner. Set aside the last 15 minutes of each business day to plan the next day’s “to do” list. Establish your objectives and list the tasks, breaking down the large projects into manageable chunks and prioritizing them. Plug your meetings, deadlines, and other commitments into a calendar and set reminders.
Leave a little “buffer time” between tasks or meetings. At work, it’s often wise to expect the unexpected. Urgent projects crop up, deadlines get moved earlier, and impromptu meetings happen. It’s good to leave a little time between your tasks to handle these types of things. No surprise meetings or deadlines? Instead, use the time to catch up on emails or phone calls.
Spend your first hour at work on the day’s most important activity. It’s always better to tackle crucial tasks while your energy is at its peak. Another option: Tackle your most dreaded task first. You’ll beat procrastination and feel more productive and energized to move on to the more enjoyable/rewarding tasks.
Focus on just one thing at a time. While multitasking seems like a time-saver, it potentially keeps you distracted and makes you less productive.
Keep a clock nearby. If you’re the type of person who tends to lose track of time when immersed in a project, keep a clock where you can always see it as you’re working. This can help you stay aware of the time, which can help you prevent the day from getting away from you.
Take breaks to decompress. Even a simple stretch at your desk, brisk walk around the building, or eating a healthy snack (like a small handful of almonds or a piece of fresh fruit) can help reduce stress and allow you to return to your work feeling more refreshed.
Beware of time robbers. This includes co-workers who stop by to chit-chat and linger. The remedy: Suggest a time when you’re free to catch up. And only check your news feeds and social messaging during your break.
Keep your workspace orderly. Organization is crucial to your success—an uncluttered desk helps you avoid getting bogged down in the needless details that slow your progress. Straighten up your area in anticipation of the next day. Toss papers you no longer need and file the ones you want to keep. Wipe down your desk. Check to see if your plants need to be watered, or if your tissues or desk-drawer stash of healthy snacks need to be replenished.
Don’t forget to have fun. You need time for recreation – to recreate yourself – so that you can tackle your responsibilities with a renewed vigor. Whether you take regular walks, train for a 5k, volunteer at an animal shelter, putter in your garden or attend community events, remember the credo: if you work hard, then play hard. Striking this balance can help you create a life is that is more fulfilling and less depleting!
If you’re consistently feeling unfocused, frazzled or fatigued, talk to your healthcare practitioner for advice.