You’ve probably heard the saying, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” Maybe you’ve said it yourself on more than one occasion. I know I have!
At the beginning of the year, I set myself some goals called 7 Ways I will Seize the Day in 2016. While I’m happily committed to working towards the goals I set, one of the hurdles I need to overcome is lack of time.
It seems we could all use an extra hour or two each day to complete all the tasks we set ourselves in our busy, busy, busy lives.
I’m lucky enough to work from home, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it’s harder to get things done when there’s nobody looking over your shoulder! I’ve been researching ways to be more disciplined in this area, so that I can get more work done and also spend more time doing the things I love.
Here’s 9 ways you can increase your productivity to find more time in your day…
1. P-L-A-N (yes, that four letter word)
Apparently if you fail to plan, you plan to fail – eeek! Even if it’s just a jotted To Do list, it’s a good idea to make a plan of things you need to get done, prioritise it and work out how you will get started (that’s half the battle won!).
I must admit, I AM a planner, and have always been – to the point of being obsessive about it. My planning skills drive some of my loved ones crazy, but I always manage to get things done. The bigger problem for me is procrastination. I tend to put off things I don’t want to do, sometimes becoming quite anxious about them, which isn’t helpful at all… and which brings me to point 2.
2. Stop procrastinating
You know that procrastination is the thief of time! One of my personal goals for 2016 is to maximise my productivity by just saying NO to procrastination.
We’re all guilty of it at one time or another, aren’t we? If you’re not, and you can honestly say that you NEVER procrastinate, please skip the rest of this article, scroll straight to the comment box at the bottom and let us know how you do it!
My 2016 strategy is to make a To Do list every day, and wherever possible, to just do the thing I really don’t want to do first. Once I’ve done it, the rest of the day is a piece of cake.
If you need some other tips on addressing procrastination in your life, check out 10 tips to kill procrastination. I don’t claim to be an expert on the demise of procrastination, but some of the tips may help you as they’ve helped me in my struggle to overcome it. The struggle is real!
3. De-clutter and organise your work space
If you walk into your work space and cringe at the clutter, or it distracts you, then it’s time to have a clean out. Get rid of all the unnecessary things and give yourself a fresh, clean work area which inspires you to get stuff done.
However, I need to do this more regularly. When I worked in an office, I tidied my desk at the end of each day. Now that I’m the only one who sees my desk, I’m not so accountable! I must say though, on the days when I do take less than 5 minutes to clean up, I walk in the next morning and I’m happier to sit down, and ready to start working, rather than sifting through a pile of papers to find what I need.
4. Handle it once
“Do it, dump it or delegate it” is a popular catchphrase in the corporate world. Handling a piece of paper or task just once is much more efficient than shuffling it and hiding it at the bottom of the pile, as I may have done once or twice.
Is this something you’re capable of doing? I do this when I can, but as I don’t have anyone to delegate to in my home office, I sometimes have to remind myself to just pay the bloody bill!
5. Minimise distractions
When you’re doing something important, turn off your phone – or at least put it in silent mode, and close your social media accounts (not permanently of course!). Facebook/Instagram/Twitter will still be there when you’ve finished what you’re doing.
Distractions are a big issue for me. I need to completely focus on a writing project to get it written well – and on time. I’m quite happy to put my phone on silent and have removed my mobile number from my website, asking clients to contact me via email. Since doing this, my productivity has greatly increased and I try to just check my email once I’m finished a task, or at a set time (usually hourly), rather than responding the moment a message pops up.
6. Track and time your tasks
Allocate a set amount of time to each task. Try giving yourself a little less time than you think you’ll need to see if you can get the task done quickly – this leaves you less time to procrastinate. Keep a log of how long it takes to complete a task so that you have a record for the next time you do it. It’s also a good idea to keep track of any small wins you have along the way. All this information helps with your task planning.
I sometimes use a timer, which helps me to focus and complete the task within a set time. This helps me stay on task and get more done.
7. Get enough rest
If you’re tired, you’re less likely to complete your tasks. You could try going to bed a little earlier at night or taking a power nap during the day (if possible). If you can get to bed – and to sleep – a little earlier, then you can get up earlier too. That gives you more time in your day to get things done.
How much sleep do you need each night? Personally, I need about 7 hours – it’s taken me years to work this out, but now that I have, it really helps with planning my days and nights.
8. Feed your body well
Again, you’ll have more energy to get things done if you feed your body with healthy foods. Junk food can produce highs and lows in your energy levels throughout the day. As a former sugar (and chocolate) addict, I can say that this is absolutely true. Since replacing my afternoon chocolate bar with a piece of fruit, I’ve lost weight and my energy levels are a lot more constant.
I also have to remind myself to eat lunch sometimes, as I get busy working and it can be 3pm before I realise it. I sometimes set an alarm to let me know its lunchtime. I also have to make sure I have ingredients to make myself a healthy lunch, sometimes I even make a salad in the morning, then I can just grab it out of the fridge and eat it at lunchtime.
If I get up early and go for a walk, it really energises me for the day. It also helps me feel better about having already done some exercise before I start work. If I don’t exercise in the morning, it just doesn’t seem to happen later in the day. I guess it depends on your schedule, but it’s important to fit in some kind of movement, even if it’s a stroll at lunchtime or doing the stairs in your office building.
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Using the above tips have helped me find extra time in my day. While I don’t profess to be perfect at living all the tips, I do find that most of them help me to be organised – and I’m working on the others.
What works for you? What’s your top tip for being organised and making the most of your day?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #iBot