Extreme workloads and overwhelming busyness are badges of honor in a fast-paced workplace, but they do nothing for your productivity. Instead of logging long, exhausting hours in the office, find ways to work smarter. In the process, you can reduce stress and enjoy your job.
With the ease of email and texting, many professionals have veered away from in-person communication. When you have to navigate a tricky or complex issue, however, these methods are considerably less efficient than a simple conversation. Before you give in to the comfort of a low-effort text, think about the conversation. If it's likely to take more than two messages, work smarter by making a phone call or having an in-person chat. Face-to-face conversations allow nuanced idea exchanges and faster goal achievement — and as an extra benefit, they also strengthen your professional relationships.
Mark Stopping Points
One of the biggest office time-wasters is getting back into the swing of an interrupted project. It takes mental effort to shift your mindset, review the task and figure out where to start working. To ease this process and work smarter, make a note-taking habit. Immediately after an interruption, take 30 seconds to summarize your progress and note exactly what needs to happen next. These notes can smooth the transition when you resume the task.
Most office environments are directly opposed to concentration. Instead of expending mental energy in a fight to focus, work smarter by changing your environment. Block off 30-60 minutes on your calendar. Then, seek out a quiet, distraction-free spot where you won't be disturbed — a closed conference room, the back corner of the building or even a nearby library — and work on your highest-priority tasks. Dedicated concentration time can do wonders for your productivity, and the break from your busy office can help reduce stress. Be sure to alert your team to the plan so they know to respect your time away.
Organize Incoming Items
Chances are, you get a variety of incoming items each day: emails, texts, in-person requests and client phone calls, just to name a few. In the commotion, it's easy to lose track of key requests until just before the deadline. A strict organizational system can help you work smarter and avoid the last-minute scramble. Each time you receive an incoming message or task, add it to a running list on your phone. Immediately mark the item with a status: action required, delete, save or delegate. Later, you can take the needed action without spending time reviewing the task. This method aids in prioritization and prevents items from getting lost.
An efficient, thoughtful system can transform an overwhelming workload into an organized, manageable set of tasks. When you work smarter rather than harder, you can save time and leave the office feeling accomplished.
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