In this age of information overload and rapid change, it’s never been more essential that you take care of your physical and mental health so you can find balance in your life.
A big part of taking care of yourself is finding ways to stay on top of your workload. That means maintaining boundaries between work and non-work, keeping a regular sleep routine, and making time for hobbies and relaxation.
But what’s the best way to make sure you’re managing your time well, so you have time to do all that? Here are some of the best ways to knock out tasks effectively and productively, whether you work full-time in an office, work from home, or have a hybrid work arrangement.
Do the important jobs first. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Prioritize your most important task – which may or may not be the biggest task – and complete it first thing in the morning. Then plan the rest of your day by listing your remaining tasks in order of importance so you know which ones are critical and which ones aren’t a big deal if you don’t complete them that day.
Set a time limit for each task. Once you’ve created your to-do list, set time limits for every task. This helps you figure out what you can realistically achieve in a day.
Schedule breaks and build in buffers between tasks. Productive people take regular short breaks, so don’t pack your schedule so full that you don’t have any buffer time between tasks. If it’s helpful, block out time for breaks in your schedule, or set an alarm to remind you.
Find your most productive hours. Figure out when you work best, and make sure you get the most important tasks (or the tasks that require the most concentration) during those hours.
Reduce overwhelm by keeping your tasks bitesize. Break down your work into smaller, manageable chunks. This will help cut down on procrastination because you won't feel overwhelmed by the enormity of a big project.
Eliminate distractions and combat multitasking. Human beings can't actually multitask – we just end up not doing anything properly. Concentrate on completing one task at a time without worrying about what's coming next on your list. Whenever possible, turn off instant messaging and email notifications and put your phone in "do not disturb" mode while you're working, to decrease distractions.
Learn to say no and delegate when you can. Mastering the art of saying no can help you keep control of your time. When saying no, be polite but firm – and remember that you don’t need to apologize. If you can’t say no to a task, think about whether you can delegate it to someone else.
Reward yourself for getting tasks done. Rewards motivate us! Take a walk around the block, spend a few minutes on social media, or treat yourself to a fancy coffee drink after you complete a task.
Time management and taking care of yourself mentally and physically are some of the most important skills you’ll need to master so you can thrive in the workplace of the future. If you feel like you’re struggling with managing your time effectively so you can sleep, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy your hobbies, it’s worth exploring some of these suggestions for making the most of your time and staying on top of your workload.