When you think about improving your productivity, do you think you’ll need to learn a complicated time management system or that it will require expensive new technology or software? Good news: you can improve your productivity by simply addressing common time-wasters.
After working with hundreds of clients one-on-one, I’ve found that there are common ways that most people waste time. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to get more done in less time. As an added bonus, you’ll probably find you have more energy, feel more focused, and have a greater sense of satisfaction!
Interruptions – it takes much more time than you think to get back on track.
- Schedule blocks of time where you can work without interruptions
- Ignore phone calls and e-mail when you need to get something done
- Note where you left off if you do get interrupted to make it easier to resume your work
Searching for information and items that you use all the time – how much time do you spend looking for your keys or for key information?
- Create dedicated “homes” for common items – and return things to their homes after you use them
- Label containers, drawers, file folders, the edges of shelves, cabinet doors, etc. so it’s easy to remember what’s stored where
- Clear clutter from your desk and work surfaces so things don’t get buried
- Set up a filing system that works for you so you can easily retrieve the information you need. For more tips on filing papers, watch my video:
Not taking time to plan – the old saying has it right: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Determine your goals and objectives before starting a project
- Schedule planning time – at the beginning or end of each day; before starting projects
- Determine the appropriate order in which things should be done
- Develop realistic estimates of how long things will take
E-mail and the internet – you can get trapped in it like quicksand.
- Don’t attend to e-mail continuously throughout the day. Work in dedicated “sessions” – try for 3-5 times per day. If this seems impossible, create some e-mail-free blocks of time every day
- Delete messages without reading them based on subject line and sender
- Keep track of time spent while you’re online. Set a timer to ring every 15 or 20 minutes so you are aware of time passing
Ignoring your energy levels – when you’re tired, hungry or bored, it takes much longer to get things done.
- Do your most difficult tasks when your energy levels are at their highest
- Take breaks when your energy drops
- Determine activities that boost your energy – have a snack; go for a brief walk; switch activities; talk to a friend or loved one
Inefficient processes – extra steps take extra time and require extra effort.
- Create streamlined routines for things you do repeatedly
- Use checklists and forms to ensure consistency
- Determine where you can save time and eliminate steps
Squandering small chunks of time – you’d be amazed how much you could have gotten done in the 10 minutes you spent playing Solitaire or discussing last night’s big game.
- Determine tasks you can do in 5 to 10 minutes or less
- Perform regular maintenance activities that you tend to ignore
- Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and notice what you can accomplish
Fear – what could you accomplish if fear didn’t slow you down? Most procrastination is due to fear.
- Determine the next action you can take. Even “baby steps” mean you’re moving forward
- Get started – even 5 minutes can make a difference
- Ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Muster up 30 seconds of courage and take a bold action
Lisa Zaslow is a New York professional organizer, speaker and consultant and has been helping people and businesses be more organized for over 10 years. Lisa’s mission is to make getting organized easy, fast, and even fun! Find out more and get Lisa’s super-easy free organizing tips at www.GothamOrganizers.com
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