Want to be more productive at work? Don’t work longer hours, just work smarter. “Anyone who wants to achieve serious results in business needs to be obsessed about efficiency,” says time-management expert Theresa Fisher. Here are five tips that will make you more efficient today.
Tip 1- Establish a routine. “Too many people just show up to work and start putting out fires,” Fisher says. “When you break your structure and just handle the first issue that’s thrown at you, you waste a lot of time. That ‘fire’ actually may be very low on the priority list, whereas a plan to have a meaningful conversation with a client might be higher.” Start the morning by prioritizing your day. Create a checklist of to-dos, putting the most important task firsts.
Tip 2 - Create dedicated blocks of time. Instead of just answering every e-mail as it comes in (a major time waster, Fisher says), set aside small blocks of time throughout the day to catch up on e-mails and phone calls. At the same time, create larger blocks for your most important tasks, like working on client proposals or prospecting.
Tip 3 - Delegate, delegate, delegate. When you’re developing your to-do list for the day, ask yourself: Which of these tasks require my personal strengths, and which might be delegated to someone else? Chances are, Fisher says, you’ll be able to offload a good portion of your tasks so you’ll be able to focus on your real priorities.
Tip 4 - Give yourself deadlines. Putting time limits on projects throughout the day will help you focus and not waste time, according to Fisher. “Make it like a game,” she says. “Say to yourself, ‘It normally takes me an hour to do this, but I’m going to try to do it in 45 minutes today.’ You’ll be surprised at how these little games will motivate you to work faster.”
Tip 5 - Take breaks. Build a few 15-minute break times into your day, along with time for lunch. These quick respites will help you perform at your peak for the rest of the day.