No matter how hard we work, it seems like there is never enough time to get it all done. The alternative to working longer and longer hours, is working smarter, not harder.
Ask yourself if some tasks you are now doing can be shifted to a coworker. Before you break out in guilt-mode, there are always tasks that creep into your daily work load that really don’t belong there. You need to step back and re-evaluate your workday routine. You can look at it by time-of-day, most time consuming or any grouping that makes most sense to you.
Next develop a work plan. Just like every organization needs a business plan, an efficient worker needs a work plan. Once you have decided on what needs to be completed by you during the day form a well-thought-out format to help guide and direct work activities. Schedule your tasks throughout your day.
The next step may be the hardest. Now that you have a plan, stick to it! If a typical workday consists of some writing tasks (emails, reports), one-on-one meetings, and processing data / record keeping, set aside specific times each day to accomplish each category of tasks. The reliability of a consistent schedule ensures that each grouping of work gets completed, and makes it less likely that tasks will be overlooked or added in.
Perhaps the most important step in your new plan is “Don't Make Work Harder Than It Is.” Keep in mind that time pressure is almost always self-induced. We set unrealistically high goals or standards for ourselves and feel like we should be doing more. Remember that tasks get completed in a step-by-step fashion. Focusing on each step, rather than on the entire project, may cut down on feelings that we are "overwhelmed."
You may find that you need do these steps more than once and to re-evaluate your trimming and re-setting of goals.
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