We all arrive in the office full of promise for the day ahead, we’ve got a clear list of tasks in our head, we know what needs to be done that day and we’ve got a rough idea of how we’re going to get it all done. For most of us those hopeful little plans last until about two minutes past nine by which time we’ve turned our emails on, been bombarded by clients and colleges asking if we could just squeeze this or that in and already had to field half a dozen phone calls. This is going to go on all day, and before you know it you haven’t got anything done that you actually wanted to get done. So just how do you change your working day from reactive to proactive?
Turn off the email
For most people who work in an office email will be the primary way of communication so check it in the morning then leave it alone until lunch time. Anything that is that important can be communicated through the phone so if it has been sent via email the chances are it can wait. As for those tasks that are sat there waiting for you the second you open your email you need to assign them a priority and anything you know isn’t going to be done that day just needs a quick reply letting them know you got their email and when you expect to get back to them. The same goes for any instant chat systems you’ve got in your office too, unless you work at Google HQ it’s not going to take your colleges that long to come over any actually talk to you in person.
Talk in person
Speaking of talking in person this can be another great way to make your working day more productive. In the olden days there was no such thing as email or instant chat, if you wanted to talk to someone in your office you would have actually have to have talked to them face to face and surprisingly enough that was actually quite productive. A face to face conversion about any projects you’re working on will actually be a lot quicker than going backwards and forwards via email and it also means that you’ve got the information you need when you need it and you can just get on with your work.
Take screen breaks
One of the easiest ways to start wasting time at work is to work when you’re tired, this means you’re making silly mistakes and not working as quickly as you should be working. When you start to get bored you’re also more likely to start procrastinating, flicking through twitter or checking your Facebook is not going to get that report finished. If you’re feeling tired or you’re just getting restless you need to get up and actually take a break. Get away from your screen, get some fresh air for a couple of minutes, make a cup of coffee, go and do a handstand, whatever it is you just need to get away from your computer to give the brain chance to recharge.
Have head phones in
If you work in an open plan office or the person you’re sat next to has a really annoying habit of chatting to you about absolutely everything that pops into their head you need to invest in some brightly coloured headphone (people are more likely to notice them if they’re a bright colour), they don’t actually have to be playing anything but make sure they’re plugged into something so people think you’re listening to something. Before you know it you’ll be getting less interruptions and able to get a lot more work done.
Schedule time for admin
If you’re the sort of person that does get distracted on a regular basis or you have a job where little bits and pieces just seem to crop up you need to make allowances for these in your schedules. Plan for a certain amount of your time each day to be swallowed up with admin and book it into your schedule, half an hour every morning to categorise the new work you’ve now got to do and maybe an hour after lunch to complete it all. This way you can plan the rest of the day and still have those little interruptions all catered for.