Time management: How to be more productive at work
A day’s work is never done.
Tasks pile up, time flies, and before you know it you may be feeling overwhelmed.
Luckily, there are ways you can make your work life easier in terms of productivity and time management.
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Here are six tips from industry professionals who’ve mastered their workflows, calendars and clocks.
You can’t manage time if you’re monitoring it. That’s why Meena Kumari R, senior human resources director at Airmeet – an event planning software platform, which is headquartered in the U.S. and India – recommends blocking out time for work tasks.
“Time blocking is a fantastic way to stick to a schedule and get projects done in a timely manner,” she told FOX Business. “Having a designated amount of time in a calendar to accomplish a task helps with the overall focus instead of attempting a few tasks at once.”
While it’s important to not move through tasks so quickly that your quality of work goes down, spending a long time on a single task isn’t always good either.
Baruch Labunski, the CEO at Rank Secure, a Toronto-based digital analytics firm, recommends workers make a game out of “cumbersome tasks.”
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“Make it a race with yourself to see how fast you can move through a task,” Labunski told FOX Business. “This works well for things like going through a stack of mail, cleaning out old files, and other routine but boring duties.”
He added, “You will also find that doing this entices you to throw away more useless items than second-guessing yourself and keeping them.”
Start with harder tasks first
It might be tempting to knock out easy tasks right away and save hard work for later in the day, but this strategy isn’t recommended by Matthew Roberts, the chief operating officer at My Choice – a Canadian insurance comparison company.
“When making your to-do list for the day, prioritize the most complex and time-consuming tasks,” Roberts told FOX Business. “This is so you can dedicate the start of your workday, when your mind is fresh and have the greatest energy, to accomplish the most challenging assignment.”
He went on to add that “complex tasks” that give workers trouble should be broken down into “smaller, more manageable goals.”
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“Make it a habit to work in chunks rather than everything at once,” Roberts said. “This makes tasks easier to think about and prevents procrastination.”
Multitasking doesn’t always work
In a busy world, multitasking is a skill that often gets praised. But this strategy doesn’t always help when it comes down to work productivity, according to Meera Watts, the founder of Siddhi Yoga International – a yoga training school in Singapore.
“Multitasking might give a feeling that you’re completing your task faster, but constantly switching between tasks can destroy your productivity at some point,” Watts told FOX Business. “Instead of multitasking three to four things at one go, divide [your time] depending on when you want to do what task.”
Dividing tasks into specified time slots allows a worker to center their “whole focus on that task itself,” according to Watts.
She added that setting a “proper time” for work tasks limits the constant need to go back and forth between projects, which minimizes concentration disturbance.
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“When you constantly do one task, you tend to do it much faster and the result is what you wanted,” Watts said. “Whereas when you focus on different tasks at one time, this gives you a feeling of overwhelmed.”
Manage your calendar ahead of time
Knowing what you need to get done before your workday actually starts is always a plus.
If your job allows for it, scheduling your work calendar a week in advance, is a must, according to Tiffani Martinez, a human resources director at Otter Public Relations – a Florida-based PR firm.
“Make sure you are taking care of items that may have strict deadlines and leave small spaces open to fill in needs that may arise last minute,” Martinez told FOX Business.
She noted that workers should also make sure to carve out time to take care of their needs, including lunches.
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“Leave at least one hour a day where you take no calls – usually at the beginning or end of the day – so you can finish items and not have to take work home with you,” Martinez said. “Take short breaks between tasks and reset your mind for the next upcoming job.”
Learn to delegate or say no
At times, you might need rope in someone to help you accomplish a work task. You may also need to be honest and say you can’t perform a task that’s been asked of you.
“This one is tough to do,” Martinez said. “[But,] you have to take time to make sure you are focusing on the tasks that are your responsibility.”
Martinez recommends delegating smaller “time-consuming but manageable” tasks to team members who are there to assist.
In cases where you have to say no, Martinez said it’s important to “set your boundaries.”
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She continued, “Just because you can do something does not mean that you should be or that it’s the best use of your time and assets for the company.”