It is not uncommon for workers to feel as if they are “running around like chickens with their heads cut off”. One way to combat the stress and frustration of feeling overwhelmed on tIt is not uncommon for workers to feel as if they are “running around like chickens with their heads cut off”.he job is to set up a system of time management to help yourself organize and prioritize your work. This system can be especially important if you are returning to work following a lengthy absence due to illness or injury. You may find it hard to get back into the swing of things, and you might be even more susceptible to stress in your weakened condition. What better time than now to re-organize your routine and strive to establish a smoother, more effective working mode? Follow our 10 easy tips to keep your productivity levels at peak performance:
1. Recognize the areas where you waste the most time.
Pay attention during your work day and pinpoint the areas where you find yourself getting side-tracked or slowing down. Maybe it’s your co-worker, Mr. Sharma, who always starts a conversation about the latest antics of his pet poodle whenever you deliver something to his desk. Maybe you have a hard time getting back into a focused working rhythm after you’ve returned from lunch. Maybe you pause whatever you are doing to listen whenever the hourly news broadcast airs on your favorite radio station. It’s important to minimize daily distractions, so turn off that radio, keep yourself energized by walking briskly outside while you eat your lunch, and either avoid Mr. Sharma, or visit his desk only when your schedule allows you time to socialize.
2. Plan each day ahead of time by making a list of the things you need to accomplish.
Start each day by setting goals for yourself. Know what you need to accomplish in the hours you’ve been given to work, and set up a system to visualize and organize the important tasks of the day. There are many tools available to help you create lists, from the old-fashioned combo of pen and paper, to day-planners, to advanced computer programs and software. Choose whichever technique works best for you, and get into the routine of planning out your day before the chaos of the job takes control and bogs you down.
3. Prioritize your list of tasks.
Now that you’ve created a list of goals for the day, look over your tasks to determine which are the most important. Do some of the jobs have crucial deadlines with dire consequences if not completed on time? Work on these items first! You may have some tasks that need to be completed before you can move on to the next step in a project – acknowledge this and make these tasks a priority. If something is important, you always want to get it out of the way quickly to avoid the stress and panic of a last-minute emergency.
4. Eliminate non-essential tasks from your list.
Which items on your list really don’t need to be done either today or maybe ever? Is there really any point to you attending that 3pm meeting if you can simply read over the minutes and catch yourself up later? If a job is of low priority, put it off for a day when your workload is light, or consider not doing it at all!
5. Delegate the jobs that can be performed by someone below you.
Are you one of those types with an attitude of, “If I want something done right around here, I’m just going to have to do it myself?” Well, stop! One of the most important tools of time management is learning when to relinquish an unimportant task to someone whose time is less valuable than your own. You can quickly lighten your work day by delegating certain duties to others (and if you are already at the bottom of the heap, with no inferiors to boss around, simply ask your co-workers if they are able to help you), but be cautious about taking on too many tasks that are being delegated in YOUR direction. Learn to say “no” if your supervisors or co-workers expect too much from you.
6. Use time management tools.
There are many tools available to help you stay organized and efficient in all aspects of your job. Use these whenever possible to keep your daily tasks manageable and running smoothly. As technology advances, you’ll have no difficulty finding time-saving programs and applications for your Blackberry, Smart Phone, or other assistive device. Jot down on your task list that you need to set aside time to learn how to utilize these helpful tools to your fullest advantage.
7. Break up big jobs into smaller, less time-consuming sections.
If a job seems just too huge and daunting, realize that it is probably made up of many smaller components that can be broken down and dealt with one-by-one. These individual tasks can possibly be spread out over several days, or maybe even delegated to co-workers. Even if the job is something that must be done all at once, you will derive a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment as you are able to cross little items off your list as you go. For example, don’t write down something as broad as “Plan Mr. Sharma’s retirement party”. Instead, break the larger job down into simple tasks such as “Reserve meeting room”, “order cake”, “go shopping”, “ask Mr. Kapoor to handle the decorations”, “collect money for gift”, etc.
8. Fight procrastination.
If you find yourself dreading or putting off a certain job, rather than force yourself to do it – or, worse, never get it done at all – schedule a few short, 10-minute blocks out of each day to work on the disliked task. Anybody can stand torture for just ten minutes, right? By working on a dreaded job in small, manageable increments, you will eventually get it done. Once you get started, you may even find that the task isn’t so awful after all, and you can plow right through to the end.
9. Multi-task when possible.
Many important jobs will require your full attention, but there will always be times when you can work on more than one task at a time. Like sorting your email inbox while you are listening to the weekly teleconference where Mr. Kapoor likes to ramble on and on about the progress of her team’s current project (good thing he’s retiring, huh?). At the beginning of each day, glance over your task list and determine which items don’t require your full brain power and could be combined with other activities. Maybe there are even things you could take home to work on as you watch TV in the evenings?
10. Reward yourself with deserved breaks.
Don’t work too hard! If you’ve taken our advice from item #1 and eliminated distractions, you may have given up the most pleasurable moments of your work day. Don’t deprive yourself of special treats and essential human interaction. Allow yourself time to relax and to socialize with your fellow workers – just schedule this time in enough moderation to ensure that all your tasks will still be completed as planned. You may find that you enjoy your breaks and “free time” even more once you are confident that these moments of pleasure are not interruptions that will ultimately interfere with your more serious workday!
Implement these quick tips and do share your experiences!!