Often the confines of a nine hour working day, paired with commitments outside of work can often compromise your quality of work. Your to-do list may stretch extensively, increasing your stress levels and limiting your chances of completing those important tasks.
In order to manage your tasks effectively, time management is required. Taking the time to plan and gain control over the amount spent on specific tasks is vital.
Take the first 30 minutes of each day to plan. Don’t start your day until you have completed your plan. This can be from a simple checklist, diary or even downloading an app to help create a system that best suits you.
There are many methods and theories which people use in order to plan. The most simple would be to create a checklist, noting everything from sending an email to tackling those impending projects. You can then start to prioritise.
Did you say large project?
If you’re in the process of completing a large project you may want to use the SMART acronym (specific, measureable, agreed, realistic, time-framed) to apply your thinking, as this ensures you know what exactly needs to be achieved. The SMART model allows you reach your goals through the measurable targets you set. By deconstructing an overwhelming task, it will allow you to tackle this in smaller and more manageable chunks.
Stop getting distracted!
Time, it’s what we all have in common but it’s how we use it that allows us to achieve. Time management especially plays a key role in the working environment. With important tasks, it’s vital to steer away from distractions. Close all irrelevant browser windows, put your phone away and find a quiet, comfortable place to work.
Two or three?
From your list of tasks, however extensive, identify two or three that are the most crucial to complete and have a go at tackling these first. Yes, you may still have a long list of incomplete tasks, but the important and more time consuming ones will be completed. After doing so, you’ll begin to feel much more positive, allowing your stress levels to reduce and your optimism to flourish!
No, no, no.
It’s important to understand that sometimes you will need to say no to opportunities in order for your tasks to take president. Taking on only those commitments that you know you have time for will be much more beneficial than taking on a range of tasks.
Tidy desk, tidy mind.
Organisation is key. Why not take some time out to clear your desk, after all, small changes go along way. You may not think you are the most ultra-organised person but you’ll be surprised. Creating your own filing system, keeping a diary or using your phone to write notes- whatever method allows you to approach your tasks confidently.
Recognising that time management is extremely important increases your personal productivity to achieve a greater work-life balance. Applying this can eliminate time being wasted and improve your performance in and out of work. Getting to grips with a new method to meet those key deadlines will ultimately determine your success in the work force.
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Although we work longer hours and feel busy, as a nation our productivity levels are outfaced by the likes of Germany and Sweden. Chancellor George Osbourne believes that the UK should be more forward thinking and pro-building. With this in mind, we look at ways to enhance your productivity with small solutions that you, your team and organisation can all work together on.
6 six-hour day.
The concept of six-hour days is not entirely new in Sweden, although it has most recently come back into the spotlight. Working a six-hour day has been deemed more favourable in some parts of Sweden, with workers tending to feel less stressed. However, Gail Kinman, professor of occupational psychology at the University of Bedfordshire argues that, “The risk is that people may work more intensively and try to cram more work into a shorter period of time which would increase rather than reduce pressure”.
Be one step ahead.
Forward thinking keeps momentum and allows you to think of the desired end goal. Focus on what matters the most, by doing this you are giving yourself the best opportunity to deliver a focused piece of work.
Meetings – make them matter.
Meetings should be kept for priorities and never for general talk. They take up a lot of time and often what could be said relatively quickly is drawn out. If you do attend a meeting, ensure it has a clear purpose, with an agenda, start and finish time. If you don’t think that a meeting is necessary, you could occasionally send your apologies to reclaim some much needed time back.
Have a think.
Being flustered and looking extremely busy doesn't always put you first in line as being recognised as the hardest worker. Engaging in thinking time is vital, not only to enhance your productivity but also to regain a sense of control and well-being. Regularly reviewing what you are working on gives you scope to initiate new ideas and spot mistakes. Often some steer clear from thinking time, feeling guilty that they don’t appear to look busy, however without thinking time, the best ideas wouldn't have been created.
Keep your mind clear.
It’s a good idea to write lists in order to visually look at what you need to complete throughout the day. We’re all forgetful at times but writing things down when they instantly come into your head is a good way to record what needs to be completed. After all, a clear mind allows for ideas to flourish.
Stop avoiding tasks.
Don’t avoid those jobs that have been on your to-do list for a long time. It’s better to tackle these head on. Set time aside to complete them, you will feel a lot better for doing this. Once tasks are complete, ensure you tick them off – this will prove super satisfying.
Manage your inbox.
Emails are fantastic, although they sometimes prove to be a huge distractions. Think about closing your inbox to ensure you don’t see emails appear frequently when you are trying to focus on large, important projects. Set aside time to clear your inbox as too many emails can often look overwhelming. If you do have important emails that require you to deal with them straight away, do this so they don't build up.
5 minute huddle.
When there’s a lot happening, it can be easy for a team to get caught up and not focus on the delivery of a task or the overall day ahead. A daily team huddle, is a five minute team meeting, which allows for good communication and keeps everyone focused on the key tasks ahead. This also reduces the need for a lot of unnecessary and lengthy meetings.
Take small breaks.
Stand up and move around – it helps your brain to get engaged. Even just looking away from your screen for a couple of minutes can help maintain your focus and stop your attention from fading, keeping you fresh throughout the day. The average attention span is typically between 25 and 45 minutes, depending on the person and the time of day so try to take a five minute break regularly.
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For many, leadership doesn't come naturally and is something we have to develop. Take a look at ways to become a more effective leader and further enhance your leadership qualities.
Many people will look to you in order to make important decisions and often in a timely manner. Some decisions made, could mean your organisation takes a hit, others might be the best decision you ever made.
Try not to analyse, doubt yourself or agonise. What’s done is done. If you can’t make certain decisions quickly, your organisation may suffer. In most cases, no decision is worse than a wrong decision because inaction leaves employees unsure, which ultimately destroys morale and prevents progression.
Many people are fearful of change. We get comfortable, we learn certain processes and we become great at them. But what if there is a quicker way to reduce costs and time?
We often can’t predict what’s around the corner, but what if you were prepared for those ‘just in-case’ moments? A big part of being a leader means that when change is on the horizon, you are proactive and change aspects before problems arise.
People will look to you for reassurance. Motivating staff and encouraging morale within the team is an essential part of being a leader. Projecting both hope and positivity, while also keeping the organisation focused by dispelling negativity and weakness. Trust your talent, be confident and assertive.
Handling difficult people and situations is something nobody likes to do. Yet, in certain situations your role as a leader may embark on this. Having empathy and being impartial is crucial. Good people management and communication skills are very important, and they are a useful skill which can be applied to any role.
Control your emotions.
Ensure you remain calm. Don’t react in the heat of the moment. It’s very easy to become stressed, yet leave it until the next day, whereby you will be much calmer and able to respond to a situation or email in an appropriate manner. Your mood hugely impacts on your judgement, and as a leader it is your responsibility to manage your emotional intelligence.
It’s always best to get a second opinion. In some cases, they might not always be readily available, however it is worth waiting for. Having a reliable source of knowledge is incredibly valuable. This could be perhaps a mentor, trusted friend or partner, either way gaining an insightful point of view will increase your chances of looking at situations from a different perspective.
Be an authentic leader.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming an artificial leader, however try to let your personality shine through. People will warm to you much more if they see you are human. Never waste time trying to be someone that you’re not, because it’s a recipe for failure. Stay humble, and never lose touch with the most important individuals: the people who follow you and want you to succeed.
Put what you say into action.
Translate strategy into action. Employees are much more concerned about what you do, rather than what you say. Leaders who talk the talk but don’t follow through are destined to fail and loose the support of employees. Remember, leadership is about gaining results.
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