In today's modern, technological, world we can find it very hard to 'turn off'. The majority of us have smart phones which makes us contactable 24/7, 365 days a year, even when overseas on holidays. It seems like there's always something to do and not enough hours in the day to do it all!
However, you probably don't need more hours in the day; all you need is some techniques to improve productivity. Before working at Overells, I had no idea how you can program yourself to be more effective at work, and that there are so many little things you can do which greatly impact on your efficiency. It's made a real difference to me, and I feel it would be a disservice not to share some tips!
Don't fall into the trap of checking your emails every few minutes. Some people feel they will miss something important if they don't monitor their inbox and reply instantly, but if you find yourself doing this it will eventually seem as if you are doing nothing else in your day, and you will start to dread the new message icons.
It's inevitable that you will get tasks through your inbox daily, and you can't ignore them, but you can allocate time to deal with them. It's amazing how much of a difference this makes to your attitude. Turning off pop-up notifications is a good place to start.
If you haven't already got some sort of to-do list, whether it be electronic or paper, let me introduce you! No matter how good your memory is, without putting the high priority tasks for the day down in black and white you'll undoubtedly lose track of one or two. It's also very easy to get distracted with small jobs that aren't high priority, and then running out of time for the important ones. We've got multiple ways of tracking our tasks at Overells such as calendars and online programs, but I have to admit I'm a fan of the good old fashioned pen and paper. I love the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I get when finally able to put a big fat black line through each one!
If you're a fan of apps, there are hundreds of them up to the challenge (in fact we've written about one in on our innovations page called Wunderlist) but any method of task tracking will do.
Break the habit
Often there are procedures within a workplace that have been around for a long time and have become a habit. It's important to remember there are often multiple ways to do a job, and finding the most efficient way for you is vital. If you're feeling bogged down at work, it's helpful to take a moment and think outside the box about how you can go about your tasks without the 'bad' habits picked up or created along the way. Possibly new software or add-ins, delegation or even an app – there's one for everything nowadays!
Don't trick yourself into feeling busier than you are
The phrase 'mind over matter' comes into play here; one of the worst things you can do to yourself when you're busy is think and focus on how busy you are. It's very easy to trick yourself into feeling stressed and on edge, putting yourself in a negative frame of mind and making your workload feel twice as bad as it actually is.
It's useful at the end of each day to sit back and recall what you actually got done (which is where your to-do list comes in handy!). Reviewing your day is a quick and easy way of putting work into perspective and stopping yourself being tricked into feeling busier than you are. A good web-based tool to use to track your time is RescueTime.com. It allows you to gain perspective with detailed reports showing where you spend most of your time, weekly email summaries, goal setting capabilities and productivity scoring.
One of our Monday morning mantra's at Overells is "break tasks down within jobs, confirm priorities and check overall timeframes". This prevents us becoming overwhelmed by the sheer size of the job at hand. These steps make it a lot easier to organise our days, keep track of what we've done and what else we've got left to do, and keep stress levels under control.
Hopefully using some of these tips will help you to prioritise your work life and claim a few hours of your day back! And don't forget, when you go home for the day, leave work at work.
For more tips see Get Your Most Important Tasks Done Faster