It's 4:00 p.m. and you realize that your "to-do" list is nowhere near complete. Where did the time go? According to Salary.com's 2013 survey, 69 percent of workers say they waste time at work every single day which indicates a clear lack of focus. The problem is that workers still have a number of tasks that need to be completed so this lack of productivity translates into more hours at the office. Below are a few of my favorite workflow hacks that keep me focused throughout the day so I can unplug and spend time with my family. These tips can work for all employees, even those that work remote.
Avoid being too tech dependent
Whether we like it or not, we are a very tech dependent generation. Most times this dependency can help us do our jobs better but in other circumstances it can cause tunnel vision. For instance, we've all been on an email chain that has gone on far too long. Once an email conversation has gone past five emails it is much easier to jump on a quick call with those involved to get everyone on the same page. This will save you time and your inbox won't be so cluttered.
To-do lists never go out of style
The classic to-do list is my go-to task tracker. Whether it be on paper or on the walls surrounding you, important tasks need to stay front and center as you go through your day. Quick short terms goals can easily be jotted down on a note pad and prominently displayed on your desk near your PC or phone. As tasks get done, a quick dash of your pen signals that you are ready to take on another challenge.
To-do lists don't just help guide day-to-day activity. Long-terms goals and projects should also be incorporated but I've found that displaying them on a larger scale works best. For example, an IdeaPaint wall that allows you to actually write on your walls and keep track of projects, status and major milestones can be helpful. The boundless canvas also allows you to take notes while you're on calls or jot down a quick idea related to the project.
We've talked a lot about meetings in a previous post, but meetings can be one of the biggest time sucks in your day. Whether you're organizing or attending, it is important to always know your goals and desired outcomes for a particular meeting. If you don't know what those are, chances are it may be too early in the process for a meeting or that your presence might not be required.
Lastly, when organizing a meeting, you must be clear to those attending what your expectations are of them. Prep materials can be helpful or a simple email outlining the agenda of the meeting will help all participating parties make the best use of the allotted time. Skipping this step will most like end up in time wasted during the meeting getting everyone up to speed as to why they are there.
Always being present isn't always good
According to the Harvard Business Review, overworked, tired, and even sick employees do more harm than good while on the clock. The cost of presenteeism is a high price to pay for not only you but for your colleagues and company. It is important to know when enough is enough -- your body will indicate when you're overworked. Most people often ignore this internal plea but their work suffers in the long run. Sometimes it's more productive to leave your computer and come back when you're feeling better than by infecting the entire office with your disease and running yourself into the ground. Take a deep breath, the work can wait. Taking breaks, knowing when to go home or taking a sick day can help you do your job better and most importantly, keep you healthy and productive for another day.