It’s common knowledge that effective time management allows us to accomplish more. But did you know that getting organized can also help your health? Using time more wisely can reduce stress, boost productivity, and increase your quality of life.
Take a minute to think about your typical workday. How do you feel? Overwhelmed? Distracted? Always running behind? Frustrated by a lack of organization? These negative emotions can affect your health as well as your job performance.
You might be thinking, “But I’m not a naturally organized person. I don’t even know where to begin!” Don’t worry-you’re not alone. The key is to start small. Try a few of these productivity tips below, just one at a time. You might be surprised by the big difference a small step can make.
• Use the 10-minute rule. If you’re feeling stuck, try devoting just ten minutes a day to a dreaded task. Momentum is a powerful thing. You’ll probably find that it’s not as bad as you thought.
• Make a plan. Put the most important items of your to-do list at the top. Give yourself enough time and avoid double-booking by keeping track of daily activities in your calendar. Taking a few minutes to plan each day can increase your sense of control and accomplishment.
• Prioritize your tasks. Minimize wasted time. Figure our which things are important and urgent; put them at the top of your list so you know you are spending your time on what really matters.
• Get it right the first time. Although it’s tempting to hurry through tasks, rushing often means making avoidable mistakes, which take more time to correct. Take a few extra minutes to complete a task well and double-check your work. It could literally save you hours down the road.
• Say no to nonessential tasks. When co-workers want you to take on new things, ask yourself: Does this fit with both my daily schedule and my goals? If the answer is no, take a pass. It’s okay to set boundaries.
• Think bite-sized pieces. Break down large, time-consuming projects into smaller chunks.
• Delegate. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it!
• Try honest evaluation. Keep a diary of everything you do for three days. How are you really spending your time? What could you do with the time you’re not using well? Exercise? Reading? Time with family and friends?
• Take a time management course. If your employer offers a class, take it. If not, request they get one.
• Limit distractions. Shut the door, close your email, or turn off your phone or pager if you truly need to concentrate on an important project.
• Take a deep breath. Forcing yourself to keep going when you are drained or frazzled impedes progress and makes mistakes more likely. A quick walk, some stretches, or even an occasional day off can help you replenish your reserves and bring fresh energy to your work.
• Get good sleep, good food, and good exercise. A healthy diet, sufficient rest and regular activity naturally boost your body’s energy levels and your ability to get more done in less time.
• Recognize the time for professional help. If your life feels truly unmanageable and out of control, it might be time to consult a professional. You can contact your employee assistance program (EAP) for help, talk to your doctor, or hire a productivity coach.