How to get nine hours of work into an eight-hour day

David Erickson

Does it seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done? Here are some simple tips to help you better manage your time and increase productivity.

* Log how you spend your time–The first step is determining how you spend your time. By writing down everything you’ve done during a day, you can identify how your time was spent and any “time wasters.”

* Separate the responsibilities of job and family–Don’t update your grocery list at work or bring your briefcase home.

* Set specific, realistic objectives and write down goals–Determine your priorities and objectives and write them down in order of importance. Tasks of high priority get attention first, medium priority should be accomplished next–or delegate them–and the rest get ignored until later.

* Reserve blocks of time–Make time for jobs that require intense concentration and avoid interruptions. Finish routine tasks when the office is noisy or distracting.

* Unclutter your desk of everything but work in progress-Move photos, plants and personal items to a shelf where they are not a distraction and make an extra effort to keep your desk from becoming buried in paperwork. At the end of each day, make sure your desk is cleaned off and organized before going home.

* Be flexible–Try to keep up to 50% of the day free for the unexpected. Make the list of objectives, but be flexible on how you accomplish the tasks.

* Follow your energy cycle-Do difficult, important tasks during the time of day you feel the most alert and energetic. Identify the time of day you work most effectively.

* Keep fewer files with broader categories–Save only those things you’re sure you’ll need for future reference. If after six months, you don’t touch it, throw it away.

* Never handle paperwork more than twice–Read it once and take action.

* Minimize interruptions–You should expect interruptions. Try to channel them (or people who tend to drop in) into a schedule as you would regular meetings. These “meetings” will not eliminate interruptions, but will help reduce them.

* Use a daily planning calendar to plan your day–Record all appointments, tasks and activities. When you write that job on your calendar, there is a better chance that you will accomplish it.

* Schedule any meetings close to lunch or quitting time–This helps discourage participants from pursuing irrelevant discussions which may stretch a meeting’s length.

* Hire the best people you can and delegate–Their competence will make your job easier. You’ll be able to delegate tasks in confidence.

* Avoid business lunches–They have a tendency to lengthen what would normally be a short meeting.

* Take a break and make time for yourself–Take a walk, clear your head or do something diverting. You’ll be gaining, not losing time by reviving your energy.

* Learn to say “no”–Why don’t we? Because we want people to like us.

* Have fun–Fun improves productivity by making employees feel comfortable with one another, diffusing tension and improving creativity.

* Stay the course–Make time management and organization a priority continuously.

* Reconsider staying at the office after hours–In some companies, working late actually has negative connotations, implying that the person is unable to do the job in the allotted time.

COPYRIGHT 1996 National Recreation and Park Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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