Having trouble organising your time in office?
These simple tips will help you plan your day, prioritise your tasks and set aside time for rejuvenation.
Time management is of utmost importance at the workplace and knowing how to juggle your priorities can be hard if you don't get organised the right way.
Here are some quick tips to help you get started.
Create a distraction free environment
A disorganised, messy desk is only going to deplete your focus if you have to shuffle through reams of papers to find something every single time.
Arrive at work a few minutes early and take time to organise files and papers on the desk.
Being productive requires focus, which means steering clear from distractions at all times.
So turn off the notifications on your phone, install plug-ins to block social media sites on web browsers and let people know that you're busy.
Tackle your MITs first
Productivity experts suggest picking three of the most important tasks (MIT) for the day, that are likely to take much of your time and energy levels and finishing them first thing in the morning.
This ensures that high priority work is completed first.
Moreover, it boosts your confidence.
The daunting stuff is out of the way already, now everything else will seem within your reach for the rest of the day.
Time management is energy management
Think of your body as a machine.
In order to keep it up and running, you have to maintain it and this is where energy management comes into the picture.
Getting enough sleep, proper nutrition and exercise is not only beneficial to your overall health but also your energy levels that directly affect how efficient you are at work.
Know your peak energy levels and schedule work accordingly around these time periods.
Front load your weeks
Doing this alone can save you from the last minute frenzy that takes place before deadlines.
Schedule important meetings, appointments and working towards deadlines on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
This way, you always stay on top of things at work and can make spontaneous plans outside of work before the weekend comes around.
Conduct weekly reviews
During the weekends, take some time to go through to-do lists, both personal and work.
Cross off completed tasks and move the unfinished ones to the next week.
Jot down all the tasks to get done this week and plan how to do them.
Master how to write a to-do list
Ever wondered why things on your to do list never get done no matter how hard you try?
It's probably because you're doing it all wrong.
Effective to-do lists contain no more than five to six tasks per day.
Each task begins with a verb, broken down into smaller subtasks if required.
For example, instead of just writing down, start working on the annual report', break this down into smaller steps, beginning with draw up an outline for the report.
Use tools to manage time
Figure out what works best for you and stick to it.
Apps like Evernote, Wunderlist and Google Keep work best for managing to do lists online.
Yet for most others, a simple journal works well to capture information on the go.
If a blank journal seems overwhelming, invest in a pre structured planner such as a Filofax.
Use a calendar at work or a digital calendar app on your phone and update it during the weekly review with appointments and due dates.
Make time for interruptions
More often than not, things hardly go the way we plan.
Urgent phone calls, meetings, mails that demand your attention immediately will eat up valuable time at work if you allow them to.
While it is important to block off these distractions, setting aside a small chunk of time to take care of them everyday keeps you on top of things at all times.
Taking a short fifteen minute break every hour or so helps maintain concentration levels at a steady peak and prevents that sudden dip in your focus after lunch time.
Productive people treat breaks like recharge time.
No checking phone, social media sites or playing games.
Get up from the desk and relax, grab some coffee or a snack and get back to work immediately.
Schedule time for relaxing
Effectively managing time is all about striking the right balance of work and play.
Don't pack schedules completely with work.
Allow yourself to relax after work and during weekends and make time for it.
Spend this time with family and friends, go to places and pursue a hobby.
In time, this will help you stay both productive and happy.
Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters