When you are responsible for leading a group or team, the tasks can really pile up. Managing them all to get the most out of your day can be difficult, especially when you factor in all of the distractions that accompany a work day.
If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with the amount of work piling up, there are some steps you can take to better manage your time and help you stay on track professionally.
Focus on Less at Once
Work days are busy for most executives, but to-do lists a mile long aren’t doing anyone any favors. Eliminate unnecessary tasks and focus only on what is important for that day. This will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of you, and you’ll be more likely to make progress on the tasks you do tackle.
Set SMART Goals
Many executives find that they are more productive when they set SMART goals — goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Explicitly stating your goal gives you a clearer picture of what it is you’re working toward, while setting your sights on something attainable increases your chances of actually meeting the goal. Measuring your progress can give you that extra boost of encouragement, and setting a deadline provides a sense of urgency. Choosing something that is relevant keeps you focused on the real priority — your job.
Even small interruptions can have a negative impact on your workflow. Log off of social media, instant messenger during the work day, and close email during times when you need to really focus and get things done. If your job requires you to check your email frequently, schedule set times during the day to log on and read messages, rather than clicking over every time one comes in.
Work in Chunks
Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day or at the end of the previous one to plan your upcoming tasks. Scheduling them in workable two-hour chunks with breaks in between makes it less likely that you will become burnt out on a certain task, making it more likely that you will continue being productive for the rest of the day.
Track your Progress
Nothing is as motivating as seeing how far you have come. Tracking your progress not only encourages you to complete more in a day, but it also gives you a better sense of how much time you’re spending on which tasks. Try this for a week, then review — which tasks are consuming the most time? How can these be truncated to increase productivity? Which can be eliminated?
If you find that you’re staying on task and meeting your goals and deadlines, reward yourself for the day’s productivity. You can also use this as an incentive to focus for the next scheduled chunk of time. Treat yourself to a walk around the office to stretch your legs or maybe a coffee to fuel you through the next few hours.
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