Feeling stressed? Does your to-do list keep growing faster than you can cope? Long hours in the office, and then more work at home and on weekends?
Take some time to reflect on what’s behind all this. Not everything is always under your control, but surely there are things that you can fix some of your work habits. Here is a list of 10 work patterns that most of us can improve on.
#1 Email interruptions
Time spent on email is one of the biggest enemies of productivity. Do you really need to respond to an email as soon as it arrives? Every time you do that, it takes the focus away from what you’re doing. And getting attention back is costing you unnecessary time and effort. Block those pop-ups, and put aside a specific time each day to check your email. And if a phone call or a short walk across the office works better, do that. Learning better email habits isn’t that difficult.
#2 Over-reliance on technology
Apps and gadgets are here to help make life easier. But it might sometimes be better to just use pen and paper instead of spending all that time online and tinkering with apps and devices. Don’t let technology manage your life.
#3 Not using enough technology
On the other hand, if you find yourself spending time repeating certain tasks, find ways to automate those. Create templates, establish systems, anything to avoid having to do exactly the same thing from scratch every time.
#4 Always making time for others
Managing time better means learning when to say no. Accept meetings if you have to be there. Offices with an open-door policy are great for collaboration, but they can also create a hindrance. Schedule a couple of silent hours when the door is closed, your phone is on mute, and you focus on work that matters. How about the whole team agrees on these no-meeting-emails-discussion time slots.
#5 Not managing your list of tasks
Just remembering the tasks to be done can create stress. Learn to maintain a master list that you review at the start of the day and update at the end of it. Great ideas are hard to come by – make sure you jot them down right away.
You can’t change your home to be near your office, but perhaps you can manage the timing? I know people who come in early and leave at 4 pm to beat the traffic. Bonus is they get their silent hours in the quiet of the early morning. Work from home option once a week? Maybe talk to your boss about it, and promise to show him/her that you will get more things done.
#7 Spending time on impressing
Making the right impression counts, but only when it’s relevant. Spending hours making the memo look presentable might be a bit like spending time on too much makeup before your gym class.
#8 Waiting for “the right moment”
Procrastinating because you’re waiting for the mood to be right or delaying an important task for a better time to do it is simply wasting precious hours. Once you get started as originally planned, the time will automatically feel just right.
#9 Too much clutter
Paper has a tendency to pile up. Every day spend 5 minutes clearing your desk. File it or chuck it. Don’t keep a huge pile of to-be-sorted tuff. It will keep bothering you. This also applies to your electronic desktop and emails.
#10 Smartphone addiction
We saved the worst for the last. One more Facebook post, a witty tweet or whats-app message, selfie or a photo of your new meal are just the first steps into becoming a smartphone addict. Remember the days you enjoyed the scenery instead of looking at the phone all the time? Limit your smartphone usage and watch time magically re-appear.
If you found yourself nodding at even 4-5 of these points, you really need to get going with changes to how you work.