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Technology and time-saving gadgets allow us to get more done every day, but as our productivity increases, so too does our workload. Today, we expect more from ourselves and have more demands on our time than our grandparents did. It should come as no surprise, then, that chronic stress is a serious problem in the western world. The good news is that developing some simple time management skills can help you to get more done and feel more productive at the end of the day, boosting your mood and your well being.
Busy Isn’t Always Productive
Henry David Thoreau believed that it was “Not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” If you are spending the day rushing from task to task, and then find yourself wondering at the end of the day whether you have actually achieved anything, then you have fallen into the trap of confusing being busy with being productive. Busywork is a waste of time. Identify the most important things in your day, and get them done.
When you have something important to get done, close non-work related browser windows and shut down your email client. If you have the luxury of doing so, turn off your phone as well. If not, screen your calls and ask people to call back later if their call is not urgent. Two hours of uninterrupted work, where you are “in the zone” is far more productive than a longer period of time with interruptions every few minutes. Those few seconds tabbing back into your email client or engaging in some chatter on Facebook break your train of thought, and it takes several minutes to return back to full productivity.
Do What Works For You
Learning how to manage yourself is one of the most important time management skills. As Michael Altshuler said, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you are the pilot”. Instead of worrying about how many hours you put into your job, or how busy you look to other people, focus on finding things that make you more productive.
Anne Rice worked during the night and slept during the day so that she could avoid distractions. Woody Allen focused his mind by taking several showers a day. Some people find they are more productive if they work standing up (or even lying down). You may not be able to do those things in an office environment, but you probably can come into work half an hour early so that you get started before everyone else starts to filter in. Or, you can wear headphones to drown out distracting sounds around you. Do what you need to do to focus your mind and get things done.
Track Your Productivity
Don’t dismiss to-do lists as a form of busywork. Tracking what you get done each day helps you assess your productivity, and gives you a sense of achievement. When you have a lot to get done it can be motivating to tick something off. If you don’t achieve all of the tasks on your to-do list in one day, move the unfinished tasks to the next day and re-assess the priority of the tasks on your list. Eventually, you’ll figure out what’s really important, and which tasks you should either forget about, or delegate.
This article has been written by Philippa L. Philippa often sources information from the Whitefields site. She loves to share her knowledge with readers that are looking to improve there qualities when in a working environment.