by Dave Sargeant, CEO & President, ACA Talent
How many times have you heard that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything? If that’s the case, then I have the solution. Let’s move to 30-hour days. It’s actually quite simple to do: count every hour as 48 minutes, instead of 60.
Since there is no supreme power that governs the minutes in an hour, we should all be able to make the change and feel good about it. Look at it this way: starting tomorrow, everyone would be working 10-hour days and we could easily get 8 hours of sleep. And then there’s the fun of finding ways to spend the extra 6 hours we’ve created.
If you’re an hourly employee, consider this a raise, since you now get extra pay for the same amount of work (it might even qualify as OT). By the way—don’t tell the French about our plan; they are very content with a 35-hour workweek.
The point behind this exercise is that it’s the perception of time that holds many people back, not the actual ability to get things done. By taking a close look at where the day goes, we can all become more productive without actually working harder, or longer.
With that said, here are some ideas to help you be more productive in the workplace:
- Write a To-Do List: Since most of us are still half-asleep when we arrive at work, prepare your to-do list at the end of each day. This way, when you arrive in the morning, you know exactly what to tackle first (after your first cup of coffee). If you have recurring tasks that you know you can do with your eyes closed, get these done first. It’s always better to leave the challenging ones for when you’re actually wide awake.
- Take Immediate Action: Don’t postpone the small things that you can take care of right away. Letting them build up will only lead to more inefficiencies. If it can get done in a couple of minutes, knock it out immediately.
- Mind Your Emails: While it’s an effective tool for many tasks, knowing when to use it is just as important. Rule of thumb: if the problem requires dialogue, don’t waste your time writing an email. Pick up the phone. And don’t allow your inbox to get out of control. Organize things into folders, delete what you don’t need, and take care of the rest. Oh, and by the way, CC’ing everybody on emails is not cool. Find another way to CYA.
- Be a Clean Freak: Keeping your work area clutter-free will also help with efficiency. Take a long, hard look around you, and remove anything that you don’t use more than once a day, including files and folders. This also lets others know that you are in control and on top of things. Perception is everything.
- Go Home: If you know you’re leaving at 5:30 p.m. sharp, you’re likely to work more efficiently and get more done. For some reason, deadlines tend to keep us focused and productive. So forget about saying, “I’ll stay until I’m finished.” Stick to the plan and leave on time every day.
So there you have it—some simple changes to the way you organize your day that can easily help you stay ahead (or at least keep pace). Spend less time thinking about what needs to get done or worrying about deadlines. Jump right in, finish it, and move on to the next task.