Do you need more time, or would a better process help?
I’m sure your office is no different to any other; you have numerous passwords and log-in details for many different pieces of software and systems that all do different jobs and store different bits of vital information. You are regularly handed pieces of paper and forms to fill in. They get lost and have to be done all over again!
It's no surprise that you feel like you are constantly chasing your tail and have a million and one things to do. Inevitably you end up taking work home, spending hour after hour filling in your expense claim and timesheets in your own time. Wouldn't it be nice to occasionally have time to pop to the gym or be home before the kids bedtime? Unfortunately nobody can add more hours into the day, but here are some top tips that could help you find a little more time.
As always, this is the key. It's not rocket science, but it is always the simple things that get forgotten. I am a big fan of to-do lists. It is so satisfying to see the day's list of jobs get slowly and methodically crossed off. You might find it useful to have a few different to-do lists; one for the day, one for the week and a long term To Do list so you can plan the month ahead.
There is nothing wrong with adding something that you've just done to your list just so that you can tick it off. The pleasure of the tick is worth it!! Find a filing system that works for you; post it notes, bits of paper, online calendar, the idea is to find a method that works for you. One that keeps you on track and prevents you from having to repeat tasks.
If you have a deadline that you are falling behind on it is fair enough to say no to additional work demands. Of course you should do it politely and explain why. The key is to try not to do too much or to multi-task. It always sounds like a good idea but you are likely to be less productive and end up not doing either task very well. You might find it useful to track your time or set a timer to show how long you'll spend on a task. By tracking your time you can discover your most productive times of the day and when/where you do not concentrate well. This might help you focus and plan projects better in the future. This information should also make filing time sheets much quicker and easier.
It is all too tempting to put off difficult tasks for another day, but, before you know it you have run out of time and have to rush. It is not good for your concentration to have tricky tasks looming over you. It's best to tackle them first thing in the morning when you are refreshed and your brain is alert. Maybe you could break the task down into more manageable sections and spread it over a few mornings?
As with organisation the key is to cut down on repetitive work-load and using out-of-date processes. Do you currently have to fill in bits of paper, send emails, fill in a spreadsheet and update your timesheet just to have a day off work? Would a collaboration tool help you with workplace communication and streamline your workload?
Make sure you hydrate; re-fuel and oxygenate your body regularly during your working day to keep alert. It's important to have down time as people work more efficiently when having regular breaks. Maybe this could be something that you set a timer for to make sure you take a break.
Are there tasks or elements of task that work be worked through quicker as a team or by someone else? Always know what others are doing and what their strengths are. Do not keep yourself locked away busy working waiting for someone to congratulate you. A workplace that works well communicates, staff should trust and help each other.
To sum up, it seems that to squeeze more time out of your day you need to have a clear goal, a time saving system and work efficiently with your colleagues, not be in competition with them. I’m sure that if you put some of these tips into action you will soon be heading out for a post work run while it's still light and rather than catching up on paperwork at the weekends.
If you think time tracking and a collaborative work calendar would help communication, absence planning and project management in your workplace try alapaka.io
I found a great app for keeping reminders and moving ideas forward. http://www.post-it.com/3M/en_US/post-it/ideas/plus-app/ from 3M- the people that make real post-it notes.