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Time Management In The Workplace

As Published In Smead Organomics
Time Management In The Workplace

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

Are you having difficulties managing your time at work? Here are a few quick suggestions for getting organized, boosting your productivity, and improving time management in the workplace.

Question Yourself

Don’t you love it when you spin your wheels all day long, but can’t manage to accomplish a single thing? It’s so easy to get caught up in mundane “busy” work that distracts you from more important projects. But there is an antidote — awareness. Always ask, “Is this the best possible use of my time at this exact minute?” If not, stop what you’re doing and direct your efforts toward another bigger-payoff activity.

Shut Your Door

If you find it hard to get your work done because of drop-in visitors, don’t be shy about shutting your door to discourage interruptions. Of course, you don’t want to lock people out permanently — but this is a particularly useful technique when you really need to concentrate for an hour or so.

Tame Your Technology

Is your time eaten up by the phone and computer? You may think that you’re being efficient by responding the second any new communication comes in — but most times, the reverse is actually true. Send those calls to voice mail and turn off your e-mail notification. Then check your messages once in the morning, once after lunch, and once more before you leave the office. You’ll be able to respond to important issues as they come up, but still have time to get some actual work done!

Clear The Clutter

Some people have a hard time staying focused because the surrounding piles and stacks distract them from the task at hand. Clear the clutter off your desk and other visible surfaces — then only have out what you’re currently working on. That way, your eye (and your attention) won’t be drawn away as easily.

Write It Down

If your mind won’t settle (and you keep thinking about the million OTHER things you have to do, instead of the task at hand) — keep a pad of paper on your desk, so you can make note of each to-do as it occurs to you. Emptying this mental clutter out of your head will allow you to stay focused on your work, without fear of forgetting something important.

Organize Paper To-Dos

Rather than piling documents in a single “in-box” tray, consider setting up a rack on your desk — with one file for each type of to-do. You might have folders for “to file,” “to read,” “to contact” (or whatever action items make sense for your job). Then when you receive a new stack of paperwork, take a second to sort it into the appropriate files — according to the next step you need to take with each item.

Schedule It

Some folks are great about creating to-do lists — but never seem to mark any items off! If you face this sort of challenge, try actually scheduling each to-do on your calendar. Commit a chunk of time on a specific day to each task on your list — you’ll be amazed at how quickly you get it all done.

30 Seconds Or Less

Not all to-dos are created equal — nor do they all take the same amount of time. Some tasks take a while to complete, others can be tackled quickly (like bookmarking a website, filing a document, or entering a number in your cell phone). When a to-do crosses your desk, ask if it can be completed in 30 seconds or less. If so, go ahead and get it over with — one less thing to have to worry about later!

Sometimes, It’s Okay To Procrastinate

This one is a corollary to the previous rule — it’s not always the best use of your time to do a to-do right when it comes in. Let routine items (those that have no set deadline and take longer to finish) pile up — in a folder, not a stack! After a few days, you can save time and effort by tackling the whole batch at once.

Consolidate Routine Actions

Hopping back and forth from one activity to another is a big time-waster. If you file a piece of paper, then make a call, then send an e-mail, then file another piece of paper — your brain has to switch gears at each step. Instead, try to complete all of one type of to-do before moving on to the next task. Make all of your calls, then do all of your filing, and then send all of your e-mails — you’ll find that you move faster and get more done in a shorter amount of time when you’re in a groove!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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