With many professionals working from home and essential workers, such as retail employees and registered nurses, working double-time and struggling with staffing issues, the need to find a rhythm and remain productive becomes more important than ever.
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by ongoing essential labor or you’re coping with a new remote work environment, here are eight helpful time management tips for remaining productive each and every day.
1. Set Goals
If you work in a high-paced field, such as healthcare, you’re likely used to trying to keep track of a plethora of different work-related tasks. Goals can be a productivity lifeline in the midst of a chaotic work-life. Goals are also something likely to come up in a job interview, so whether you are happily employed or looking to switch careers or even apply for a promotion, it can pay to think critically about personal and professional goals. They can, and should, be set for various lengths of time, including:
- Daily goals: What small-yet-important tasks are you going to accomplish today?
- Weekly goals: What ongoing efforts or challenges must be resolved by the end of the week?
- Monthly goals: What tasks require a steady, productive effort over the next few weeks?
- Annual goals: What long-term goals, such as improving a skill or getting a promotion, are you aiming for over the next twelve months?
As you identify your personal goals, make sure to write them down in an easy-to-reference place. Consider using a calendar or scheduling app that allows you to set reminders and due dates for your goals as well to help with accountability.
2. Prioritize Tasks
Often time management doesn’t suffer from a lack of effort so much as a failure to point that effort in the right direction. Enter prioritization. If you find that your mind is constantly buzzing with various tasks and responsibilities, it may be time to address the stressful situation.
Sit down and write out all of your current tasks. You can do this with a piece of paper and a pencil if you want to go old school, or you can use a list app that allows you to rearrange items after they’re added.
Once you’ve written everything down, rearrange your list in order from most important to least important. This will give you a blueprint for where to direct your energy first and what can wait until another time.
3. Stay Organized
Organization is a critical requirement in every workplace, and it’s a great soft skill to be able to list amongst your personal professional strengths. It can also be a critical piece of the time management puzzle.
There are many ways to apply organizational techniques in a professional setting. For instance, setting goals and prioritizing tasks are both forms of organization. Other examples include:
- Maintaining an updated schedule to track work appointments and deadlines.
- Keeping a dedicated space (either at home or at work) that is specifically for you to work in.
- Decluttering your workspaces regularly.
- Creating morning and evening routines that can help you prepare for and detox from work each day.
If you can stay organized before, during, and after work, it can be a tremendous tool to help you manage your time.
4. Streamline Your Process
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when attending to regular work routines. However, if you want to remain efficient and time-sensitive, it’s imperative that you regularly assess how effective each of your work processes is at the moment.
Some processes remain effective in perpetuity. Others only produce healthy results for a season. Make sure to consider how you’re going about your work on a regular basis in order to see if anything can be streamlined, reworked, or even completely rehashed in order to make you more productive.
5. Delegate Tasks
If you’re a manager, a project leader, or even an employee with a surplus of responsibilities, time management can quickly become an issue. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and ineffective as you try to attend to too many concerns at a time.
As a solution, look for ways to delegate some of your current tasks to others so that you can provide quality attention to your remaining workload.
As a boss, this can be accomplished by delegating work to employees. As an employee, you can advocate for change by talking with an employer or even coworkers in an attempt to collectively find a healthy solution for everyone.
6. Allocate Time for Tasks
Just because you apply yourself to a task for a long period of time doesn’t mean you’re going to be productive while you work. In fact, it’s recommended that you should spend no more than two hours on a single task before you switch to something else or take a break.
With that in mind, if your workload is flexible, consider creating a schedule for how you go about your workday. Allocate specific times for particular tasks and make sure that you’re not spending too much time on any one activity.
Time management is nearly impossible if you can’t communicate with those around you. This is especially true if you work in a highly collaborative workspace, such as a doctor’s office or hospital.
Communication with clients, patients, employers, coworkers, labs, suppliers, and so on must remain open and effective at all times. Active listening should be regularly employed, as well, in order to truly understand one another.
If quality communication can be maintained, it can go a long way in helping individuals structure their workload and remain efficient with their time.
8. Avoid Multitasking
Finally, avoid the temptation to be proud of being a multitasker. Many industries are struggling with labor shortages at the moment, and it can be tempting to play the hero by taking on extra activities in an attempt to get everything done.
However, taking on multiple activities at the same time, while impressive, can cripple your productivity. It strains your mind and doesn’t actually help you get things done faster. On the contrary, it often leaves you more distracted. Instead, try to focus your efforts on one primary task at a time.
That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to music or have a conversation while you’re working. However, if you try to get multiple responsibilities done simultaneously, you’ll likely find that both tasks take longer, are done poorly, or both.
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