Frustrated by feeling distracted at work? Losing your focus, or constantly finding yourself stressed out by deadlines and projects? Read on for ten great tips that can help you improve your time management skills and improve your productivity in the office!
Before your workday
At the workplace, good time management begins the night before your workday. Believe it or not, there are quite a few things you can do before you even leave the office to improve the next day’s productivity. Try these tips:
Make a to-do list. Being prepared works wonders for good time management. Before you leave work for the day, make a to-do list for the next work day. In addition to simply listing the tasks, you may also want to consider listing them in order of priority.
Keep your workspace orderly. 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.
Get a good night’s sleep. Experts recommend that adults get between 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Solid sleep can help you stay focused, keep a positive attitude, and be productive the next day.
During your workday
Now that you’re well-rested and know exactly what you need to accomplish, sit down at your well-organized desk and get ready to face the workday. The following tips can help you plan, prioritize, stay on track, and reduce your stress level:
Complete your hardest or least favorite task first. Dreading a certain task can lead to procrastination. Instead, tackle that task first—not only will it get the task out of the way early, but it can help you feel productive and ready to move on to tasks you enjoy more.
Watch the clock. 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. Even better, set deadlines for tasks to be done, and then follow through on completing them by those times.
Use a calendar to stay organized. Nothing thwarts your productivity like having to dash off to a meeting you forgot you needed to attend. Plugging your meetings, deadlines, and other commitments into a calendar is a great way to help you stay organized. Be sure to set reminders leading up to these events, too.
Break large projects into chunks. Projects often have many moving parts. Trying to get the entire thing done at once can feel overwhelming. Break the project down into smaller tasks. You’ll likely feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing each task, which can help you stay motivated.
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.
Focus on just one thing at a time. While multitasking sounds like it could save you time, it also has the potential to keep you distracted. If you give each task the time and energy it deserves, before you know it you’ll be able to cross it off and move on to the next one!
Take breaks to decompress. Taking brief breaks can help you regain your focus so that you remain productive. Even something as simple as stretching at your desk can be a healthy way to ease tension. When possible, take a 5-minute brisk walk, chat with a coworker, or eat a healthy snack (a small handful of almonds or a piece of fresh fruit)—all of these can help you reduce stress and allow you to return to your desk feeling a little more refreshed.
For Health Advocate members
If you are a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life program, call us for help with time management, improving productivity, reducing stress, and more. Our Work+Life Specialists can help you with a wide range of issues at work and at home. To get started, just call us or log in to your member website at HealthAdvocate.com/members.