Episode 083 of Productivity Paradox this week is all about learning how to prioritize our time so that we are spending it not only in the most productive and effective way in terms of our responsibilities and other work-related tasks… but also in the pursuit of the activities and events that leave us feeling happy and fulfilled once our day in the office has come to an end.
I want to share 5 secrets to creating time in your workday to spend on your most important tasks. This will allow for pockets of time in your schedule to decompress and focus on the priorities that we often let fall to the wayside!
A great way to reduce overwhelm in the workplace is to plan each day with blocks of time to be devoted to tasks that need to be completed, or to decompress after spending a period of focused time on that big item on our priority list.
While it may seem that these time blocks will actually eat up more of your schedule than you think you can allot, you might be surprised by exactly how much you’re able to get done when you make a point to block off specific periods of your day when you’re otherwise unavailable to colleagues, clients and the like that often create distractions that leave us feeling like we don’t have enough time to get everything done.
By focusing on our top priorities, we can free up time in our schedule. – @inkwellpress
By creating these blocks of time each day, you’re not only giving yourself the space to focus on your tasks without interruption, but you’re also making a point to devote your time in an intentional way… ultimately boosting your productivity and effectiveness on the job!
Another great way to create time in your schedule is to consolidate, or batch, like tasks. We talked a little bit about this in a previous post, but I think it bears mentioning here because it can be an incredible tool when it comes to boosting productivity in less time!
The general idea here is to set aside a pocket of time (time blocking!) that you will work on that one big task or all of those subtasks/mini-tasks that you have on your plate. Then, once you have categorized your tasks, work in batches of 90-120 minutes before pausing to take a break…
You might be surprised by just how much you’re able to get done when you have organized all of your tasks this way, and by how much time you’re left with as a result to focus on your other priorities!
While it is important that we are aware of what we have coming around the bend when it comes to our jobs and tasks at hand… It’s just as important that we don’t bog ourselves down with a laundry list of all of the things that we need to get done.
A great way to create time in your workday? Focus on just 3-5 of your big tasks or priorities each day and schedule your time around those. (Need a refresher? We talked about scheduling our priorities back on Episode 024!) Because let’s be honest, most of the usual “to-do” lists that we create are often way too long and they can create a ton of stress when we’re constantly agonizing over how much we have to do compared to how little time we feel that we have to get it all done.
By focusing on our top priorities, we can free up time in our schedule, relieve ourselves from a lot of overwhelm and reduce our tendency to try to multitask to get everything taken care of at once. (If you remember Episode 009, then you already know that multitasking is a huge time-waster and inhibitor when it comes to our productivity and the quality of work that we produce!)
It comes as no surprise that lessening the number of distractions we allow into our workday can be a huge time-saver… While our colleagues usually mean well, the constant stream of interruptions by frequent emails, office drop-ins and the like can be incredibly debilitating when we’re trying to focus.
To minimize distractions in the pursuit of creating time in your workday, I encourage you to create systems to alert your colleagues when you’re trying to focus. This could be as simple as hanging a Do Not Disturb sign on your office door or cubicle, or even setting up an auto-response during certain blocks of time in your email that lets your colleagues and clients know that you’re away from your computer and will respond when your schedule allows you to do so.
Any way that you can decrease the number of interruptions that you encounter each and every day when you’re otherwise trying to focus, the easier it will be to create the time and space that you need to be productive and feel like your time is being well spent in the workplace.
This can be difficult depending on your job and what your role entails, but if you discover that you have more tasks on your plate than your job demands… Delegate! If you have an assistant, delegate some of your lesser tasks to him or her so that you can free yourself up to focus on your bigger priorities.
If you’re able to hire a virtual assistant or outsource a task or two to a temp agency, I encourage you to give it a try! By freeing yourself up from some of the less important tasks on your list, not only will you reduce your chances of burnout and overwhelm, but you will also create more time in your workday to devote on your big goals and projects.
If you have kids, know that you can certainly delegate to them, as well! I know this can depend on their age, but starting when they’re young and letting them feel that sense of responsibility when helping you out will actually prepare them as they get older to help others and know they can do tasks on their own.
How do you create time in your workday to focus on your big tasks and other priorities? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below… And check out Episode 083 for more ideas on how to Schedule the Un-schedulable so that you can make room to cultivate happiness both at work and at home!