5 Simple Ways To Stop Wasting Time And Make Your Work Hours More Effective
I am sure you heard it before: Some people say it is possible to work smarter, not harder. And surprisingly, that is actually true!
I have always been one of those people who get distracted easily. It can be a WhatsApp message from mom, an email from a client or maybe just a nagging household task. The latter I solve by working from a coffee shop for two or three hours a day. But then there is the friendly barista that wants to chat…
Now that I am working remotely, I am my own boss. Only I am deciding, when and where I do work. This decision, taken every day all over again, determines how successful I am with what I do. Logically, I can not afford wasting my time. So I decided to learn how to do work in a much more efficient way. By doing that, I already took the first step into the right direction: I was determined to do a lot more in the same time! This would not only take a lot of stress of my shoulders concerning work, it would also be beneficial for my private life. As soon as I had covered all the to-do´s for the day, I would be able to get to my hobbies, friends, family and to my own projects – of which I have plenty!
I wish that someone would have let me in on the secrets of being more effective with my work when I started my self-employment. But of course, it is very unlikely, that you are given such valuable information for free. But not on this blog! I don’t want you to waste your time with the research or waste your hard earned money. Instead I am going to sum up in a few words, how to be more effective!
- To-do lists are awesome – but don’t forget to rework them!
If you are anything like me, then you love writing to do lists and some days, they don’t stop at the end of one page! I learned that it is a very effective method to limit how many items I add to my to-do list. I like to chose not more than three important tasks per day. These are mostly though and really need to get done by the end of the day. They are so big, that you´d stay over time to get them done if you were working in an office! Put those tasks on top of your list, cross out anything below.
I also like to tackle these tasks in the morning. Should you leave them for later, it is likely that you get distracted and run out of time.
And also: Focus only on today. This way you are making sure that you stay focused on what has to be done now, not what will be on your desk tomorrow or some day after that.
Got a big project? – Break it down into smaller tasks and cross of one by one until you finished the whole thing!
2. Keep track of your results, not the time you invested!
When I learned to change the way I measure my productivity, it immediately took a lot of weight from my shoulders. What is it, that people always have to think that putting in more hours will make them more effective?! Start to evaluate yourself by what you actually get done rather than the time it takes to get something done and you’ll start to notice a difference in how you work.
I do this by writing down everything I did that day, in a little notebook. Every night before I go to sleep, I bring down a couple notes and what can I say: Since then I work not only more effective and motivated, I sleep a lot better, too.
You are great with procrastination? – Spend five minutes trying to tackle the job you are avoiding to start. Most likely, you will end up so involved in the job that you don’t want to stop until you are finished.
3. Build a routine
It is easy to waste time in the mornings, I know that very well. One cup of coffee, preparing breakfast, cleaning up, getting lost in your mails or a blog you only just discovered. The thing is, if you don’t have a plan for the day, you will be likely to waste the first hours – and by the end of the day, struggle to complete all your tasks. – Not good!!!
Instead you could just get up, take a shower and sit down with a cup of coffee or you put on a specific work playlist and get to your to-do´s right away. It helps me a lot to have breakfast, get dressed and then leave the house. I go to a coffeeshop, order a cappuccino and as soon as I sit down, work time starts. I do that until lunch time, then go home and take a break of no longer than an hour. In that time I prepare lunch, eat and clean up my mess. Then I get right back to work, this time from my home desk.
I like to work in a very organized environment. It happens that any clutter on my desk or the room upsets me so much, that I will get to that, before I can start working. To avoid that, I got used to leave everything ready at night: Clothes put away, dishes are done, desk is ready for work. Lucky you, if clutter doesn’t trouble you 😉
4. Find out how you waste your time
For me it is my phone, mostly Instagram, then making food, taking photos of my food, etc.. I love to read every incoming mail, too – it could contain valuable info after all, right?
Before you try to change your routine, take a closer look at your habits and ask yourself, what is the real problem? For you it might be Facebook or shopping online for stuff. Keep these things for after work or make them part of your routine. If we are honest, a quick glance too often turns into 20 wasted minutes or even more. Once you are aware of the problem, you can adjust. Are you having a lunch break like I do? Check Facebook when you are waiting for your pasta to be al dente or while you are enjoying your meal.
5. Learn how to stop working
By creating a routine that is! The worst thing you can do is to think, that if you are not done by dinner time, you can just pull out your Mac afterwards and continue late at night! This way you are only putting of your big to-do´s of the day. After all, the day has 24 hours and you could simply work long enough to get everything done. But this is exactly why you are reading this article, right? No more of that.
These are my ideas on how to switch off work time:
- Set a certain time.
For me, nothing happens after 7 p.m. It has been like that since the first years of school and didn’t change during my university years. As of today I am still not a night owl, so it would make little sense at all for me, to push through. I´d rather start a bit early, to get everything done by 7 p.m. and enjoy home-time – workout and boyfriend time that is.
- End your work day on a high note.
You managed to get ahead of your plans? Stop right there! The best way to stop, is when you are doing good. This way you know exactly how much you achieved and what needs to be done next, and you will be motivated to start again the next day!
- Plan after work activities.
What the daily workout is for me, could be date night with the best friends or a romantic dinner with your lover. Whatever it is, plan something cool after work and you will be less likely to work longer than you should. Make plans with others, because external forces and peer pressure can give you the motivation to get things done within the time you have.
And what are your tips on how to be more effective? Leave a comment below and share it with us!