You haven't even passed over hump day and you are as backed up as a line for the ladies room. The thought of staying late or working on Saturday has given you a migraine that no pill can fix and your boss is already on your case about your extra hours.
There just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. Eight hours barely allows you to skim the surface, and putting in more hours at the office takes away from everything on your personal life's "to-do" list.
Don't Get Personal
With the Internet, that is. According to a survey done by Salary.com, 44.7 percent of polled workers say web surfing is their biggest distraction. Save checking your personal e-mail or Web pages for your lunch time (it's okay to finish this article, though).
Turn off the news alerts. They are wonderful features, but evaluate how often you get one and then read other stories that have been posted.
"Oh my gosh, you won't believe what I just heard!" Stop it right there! As much fun it is to talk with your neighbor and share your personal lives, it kills a ton of good work time.
Make a List
Write down a list of time specific items (such as meetings, conference calls or package pickups) and a list of items you need to complete. Completing time specific items first helps a ton when getting the smaller things finished.
Prioritize your "to-do" list. A good rule of thumb is categorizing items as urgent, important and neither. In a work diary or planner, break down tasks by time. Plan out your day, allowing time for interruptions or emergencies, and stay on task. Example: 9:00-10:00 check e-mails, 10:00-11:00 research statistics for report, etc).
It's All about Timing
Work on the more difficult tasks when you are at your best. If you know you hit the afternoon slump after lunch, try working on something that doesn't take so much thought and focus then.
Get the dirty work done pronto. Don't wait until Friday, 10 minutes before you leave, to approach someone about a problem.
Set up a specific time of day that you aren't to be disturbed. Having the "open door policy" is one thing, but taking it literally is another. It doesn't hurt to close it for an hour or so, just let people know that you aren't to be interrupted except for emergencies.
Take your lunch or breaks at the times of day when you loose your perk, or when it's not important to be around the building. If you can, flex your schedule to come in early. You can avoid rush hour traffic, and have a quiet peaceful office to yourself.
Get It Done in Groups
Allot specific times of the day to check and respond to e-mails. Close your e-mail when you are done and don't open it until you have another time set aside. Stopping what you are doing to read, answer and fulfill e-mail requests interrupts your thought process, schedule and efficiency.
Make your phone calls in one sitting. Gather all information needed before making calls and go down the list. Go through your inbox in one sitting. Trash or shred documents that aren't needed, and immediately file those that are of relevance. Have piles of documents to be filed? Grab your headset, let someone know you are away filing and do it all at once.
Hang It Up!
Don't waste time holding while the person you are calling for is found. Just say, "I'll give them a call back around 'state time,'" or leave a message.
If you have an associate answering your phone at work, let them know when to forward calls to your voicemail. If it is a telemarketer of sorts, immediately have them transferred to your voicemail. Let them know when you are busy and are not taking calls, as well.
Keep the personal calls to the bare minimum on both your cell phone and office phone. That includes text messages!
Eating more nutritious foods can help give you the extra energy to make it through the work day, even those pre-lunch hunger pangs.
Skip the vending machine all together. Not only are you wasting your money, you are wasting time putting your work down, traveling to the vending area and eating your snack (Cheeto dust orange finger prints won't qualify as an "artistic touch" to the presentation due to your boss today).
And get plenty of proper sleep. This helps avoid that mid-week burnout, and keeps you from making those "lead eye" mistakes that take up more time to go back to correct.
Depending on what age range you fall in, sit next to someone in a different generation. Studies show that people in the younger generations work not only harder, but better, when they sit next to someone in 50+ age bracket. For those in the 50+ age bracket, you can pick up fresh ideas, and newly-taught techniques, from the young pup in the cube next to you.
Delegate any extra work to another worker. *GASP* But that means you have to let go of control! It's a win-win, trust me. You clear up time for your serious projects, and empower others at the same time.
Just Say "No"
If you know you don't have time, don't take on the extra project. It can take away from the quality of all of your work, and possibly backfire when you don't get something finished on time.
Cut out the meetings. If it's not necessary for you to be there, request to have a copy of the minutes and utilize the time to get work done. If you need to hold a meeting, try setting the time for an hour before lunch to avoid going over.
Keep this in mind: as much as some like their overtime checks, it is important to remember that you aren't always guaranteed to have it, and not everyone has this luxury. It is smart, personally and professionally, to live within the means of a normal 40 hour day. By trying these tips you can learn to get everything done, while still sticking to the timespan of 9-5.