By Bayside Group
Jul 24, 2020
Finally have enough hours in the day with these 5 productivity tips
How many times have you thought to yourself “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” to get through your workload? Do you feel as though you have an endless ‘to do’ list that you can just never seem to get through, with jobs continuously piling up? This is a common experience for many employees, however can be a mindset that actually holds you back from maximising your time management and productivity.
What’s important to consider, is not how much time you have but how you use the time you have. Remember that every single person in the world has exactly the same amount of time in the day. So if mastermind entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk - who seem to be superhuman in their ability to be powerfully productive - can utilise their 24 hours effectively, then so can you!
With an increased number of employees working from home, it’s all too easy to use distractions as an excuse that stops you getting work done. However, according to research from Stanford, employees who WFH actually showed increased productivity, took shorter breaks, and had fewer sick days in comparison to their in-office peers. This shows that working from home is no excuse to let your work lag behind.
If you find yourself struggling to get through your workload, here are our five best tips to make those 24 hours in your day as productive as possible.
Take time seriously
It’s all too easy to be complacent with time. After all, it’s never ending, right? But it is that kind of thinking that will see your tasks build up and your ‘to do’ list steadily growing. Though 15 minutes to make a coffee here, and 10 minutes to chat to a colleague in the staffroom there might not seem like much as the time, all of these minutes add up. Whether working from home or in the office, these little breaks in your day can actually result in losing at least 1-2 hours of effective work time.
That is why it is important to reframe the way you think about time and how you utilise it. As soon as you begin to respect the time you have, you are more likely to use it productively.
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify exactly where your hours are disappearing. You have a morning meeting, reply to some emails and before you know it, it’s 4pm and you’ve only just started on a report that is due tomorrow.
So when you hear yourself say “I’m so busy!”, ask yourself - “doing what?” Just because you’re sitting down at your desk and are “at work”, this does not necessarily equate to getting work done.
In his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey highlights the importance of identifying ‘urgent’ versus ‘important’ tasks. By gaining self-awareness and identifying the activities and tasks you spend the most time on, you can start to create a picture of where you’re spending most of your time (time management) and how appropriate that is in achieving what you need to achieve (productivity).
For example, are you spending time on activities that are important but non-urgent (long-term goals), important and urgent (emergencies and crises), urgent but not important (interruptions), or non-urgent and not important (distractions). Many employees find that a lot of their time is spent on “not urgent and not important” activities, seeing them distracted and at risk of falling into procrastination habits. If this is the case, try to remember these wise words from entrepreneur Jim Rohn: “Either you run the day, or the day runs you”.
By understanding your work patterns and behaviours better, you will start to understand where your ‘busy-ness’ is currently focused, and can therefore redirect it into more appropriate areas that will begin to see your intimidating list of tasks decrease.
Set a schedule
Particularly for employees working from home, setting yourself a schedule and writing it down is an extremely effective way of helping you gain effective working hours in your day. When you go into the office, you typically adhere to a fairly consistent routine, with the same start and end times. However those lines often become blurred when working from home, as no one is paying attention to your arrival or departure times, making it hard to stay on track.
This challenge is compounded when you add in new responsibilities the coronavirus pandemic has introduced, such as homeschooling or grocery shopping for high-risk family members. For others who already maintain long hours to accommodate heavy workloads, the lack of a schedule can make it even harder to maintain work-life balance.
By creating a written schedule, you’ll be better able to dedicate the necessary time to your highest priorities, as well as allowing yourself allotted time to spend with your friends, family and your own wellbeing.
Create your productivity space
Creating a productive office space will be particularly important for those who have found themselves working from home in recent months. While being able to sit up in bed, grab your laptop and begin work might seem like a dream, chances are this style of work is impeding significantly on your productivity.
Instead of working in bed, spreading work out on your kitchen table or sitting in front of the TV, aim to replicate the office environment in your own home and create a space where you feel the most focused. Make sure people in your home are aware of this space and respect its boundaries. After all, your friends and family wouldn’t drop by your office 3 or 4 times a day to chat, so why should they now?
Establish water-tight psychological boundaries in this space so you’re not constantly reminded of temptations around you (there’s chocolate cake in the fridge) or unfinished personal tasks, such laundry, vacuuming or making your bed that will compromise your productivity. Complete these personal activities outside of work hours as you normally would.
Creating a designated “work area” will also ensure the lines between your work and home life don’t become blurred, meaning you can put your computer away at the end of the day and dedicate time to your family. This is important, as it will help to reduce your stress levels, increase happiness and overall make you more productive during your working hours.
Calculate the cost
Sometimes willpower alone isn’t enough to create change in unproductive behaviours; sometimes you need to calculate the actual cost of subpar time management and wasted time.
What financial, mental, physical or emotional costs have you paid for not managing your time most effectively? Do you miss putting your children to bed because you’re working until 8pm each night? Are you having difficulty sleeping because of high stress levels? Or maybe you are losing clients because it’s taking you too long to reply to their email enquiries?
By doing this, you’ll start to realise just how costly your time management (or lack thereof) has been, which will ultimately provide you with a ‘why’ when it comes to improving.