We all know someone who’s always late for a shift, takes forever to reply to a question/email, or who never has the right supplies on hand when it’s time to start a new task. It might even be you… Often, these habits are subconscious… and because habits account for about 40% (according to research at Duke University) of our behavior on any given day, it can be hard to change.
Learn to make the most of every hour of every day. Your workday hours are limited and you don’t want to waste time. Here are some tips to get control of your day:
- Take time each day to plan for tomorrow. When you create a plan, you come to work prepared. You arrive with your mind ready to go and you’re able to go from one task to the next with purpose.
- Prioritize your tasks. You’ve heard of the 80/20 Rule? That rule states that 80% of the effort you make results in 20% of the value. In other words, determine the most important things you have to do and focus on the 20% of your work that makes the most difference.
- Make sure you take breaks. Your body and mind can work steadily for about an hour at a time, especially when your job is physical, like housekeeping or standing for long periods as a line cook or dishwasher. Take a 5-10 minute break each hour if you can. When you return to work, you’ll be more productive and get more done.
- Be confident. Don’t waste time focusing on problems. Think about solutions and approach each day with a positive attitude. It will create the energy you need to tackle your day more easily.
- Focus on work. When you’re at work, focus on being productive. Minimize socializing and procrastinating.
- Be open to learning new things. Work smarter by figuring out how to be more efficient with a task. Be open to learning from others and use any training that’s relevant to your position.
- Set small goals. Having big goals is great, but it really helps to measure your progress along the way. You’ll be more motivated when you reach each goal and you’ll be building on your success, day by day.
- Forget multitasking. Your brain really cannot hold multiple tasks in your mind at the same time. Trying to answer the phone, welcome guests, and solve problems at the same time doesn’t work. Instead of getting more done, your mind is really working hard to shift back and forth between tasks and not doing anything well. You’ll be more productive by focusing on one thing at a time and then moving on to the next task.
- If you’re commuting, spend that time learning. Instead of zoning out or sleeping on the bus or the train, consider reading about your industry, working on a certification, or simply planning your day. Once you arrive at work, you’ll be alert and ready to go.
- Put your phone down. Don’t waste time checking your social media accounts and scrolling through personal email. It may seem like a good way to take a break, but it leaves you reacting to other people’s agendas. Stay focused on the job at hand.
- Do your most difficult tasks first. The more you put off the tough job, the less motivated you’ll be. As the day goes on, you’re likely to be more tired, so take care of the tough stuff first. Handle the complaints, do the paperwork and deal with problems before the day gets away from you.
- Include some contingency time in your schedule. Things don’t always go just as you planned. When something unforeseen happens, you’ll be more at ease if you know you have some extra time in your schedule to manage a crisis.
It takes time to build new habits. Be persistent and continue to plan, organize and prioritize your work. Preparation gives you an organized mindset that creates confidence and keeps you focused. Most people spend a lot of time at work and get little done. Use these tips to use your time is well and increase productivity. Before long, you’ll find you’re getting more done in less time!