1. Plan strategically
Write a new to-do list every day and keep it with you throughout the day so that you can update it with new developments, and check tasks off as you complete them. Always keep a pen and some paper on hand, even next to your bed, in case you remember something or come up with a good idea during the night.
2. Start early
Begin your working day early to start your day more peacefully in an emptier office. Moreover, seeing tasks being crossed off your to-do list before your colleagues even enter the building gives you a good head start to keep you motivated throughout the day.
3. Get your priorities right
Prioritise your tasks and get your most important work done first – this refers to work that is relevant to your goals, strategic objectives and key performance indicators. Learn to deprioritise or say no to non-essential demands and don’t waste too much time on perfecting internal memos or emails when your time could be spent more productively elsewhere.
4. The art of delegation
Some people are able to easily delegate tasks, while others find it challenging to let go and trust others with the work. However, learning to pass on projects to subordinates is essential not for your team’s development. By delegating work, you can streamline your daily tasks and focus on the most important projects while nurturing the skills of others. It also allows you to foster a sense of community with your fellow teammates.
5. Set yourself deadlines
Deadlines are vital to help you focus and stay in control. Divide large projects into more manageable segments and give yourself time limits for each of the tasks. The practice of setting deadlines and meeting them is also a crucial skill for professional career success.
6. Concentration time
Schedule a block of time every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes, where you can’t be disturbed – unless it’s an emergency. Use that time to concentrate fully and complete important tasks quickly.
7. Happiness is organisation
Don’t ignore emails; an inbox full of unread mail will only add to your workload. Instead, get into the habit of looking over each email and either moving it into a pending file to action or delete it. You can even employ inbox rules to send emails with specific keywords into targeted folders for automatic organisation. This simple but effective tactic will help you keep all incoming messages under control.
For shared documents, it is an important working practice to have an efficient filing system. Save work in centralised folders that team members can readily access, and file work as you go. This ensures that folders are kept up-to-date and reduces the clutter on your desktop which can make you feel overwhelmed!
8. Phone call o’clock
Decide on a set time each day to make or return phone calls and schedule this into your calendar. Even better – let your contacts know that this is the best time of the day to reach you, which hopefully helps you reduce interruptions that may distract you throughout the day.
9. Organised, but flexible
No matter how carefully you plan, you will sometimes have to veer off course due to tasks that require urgent attention. When your schedule doesn’t go exactly to plan, be flexible and promptly reassess your tasks for the day.
10. Prepare, then relax
Before you leave your workplace for the day, spend some time preparing for the next day. In so doing, you get to enjoy a relaxing evening with an indication of what the day next ahead holds, instead of rushing to figure out your tasks only in the morning.
Before you work another 14-hour day or get stressed over an uncontrollably growing inbox and cluttered desktop, try out some of these tips. You will likely find these having a positive effect on your personal life as well as your work life.
This article is contributed by Michael Page.