How Can I Save Time at Work?
Has ‘if only there were more hours in the day’ become your catchphrase? Do you often skip lunch in order to tackle your to-do list? Enough! It’s time to start working smarter, not harder. These time-saving tips will help you do just that. Plus allow you time for your sandwich.
To give you a clear look at your workload, write down everything you need to accomplish, day by day. Group similar tasks together – replying to emails, filing paperwork, researching, etc. Being in the ‘brain space’ for a particular activity, rather than flitting from one thing to another, will increase your efficiency. Within your list, prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency. Surely replying to the email about the Christmas party theme (sent in July) can wait.
Use a calendar
When it comes to time management, a planner or calendar will be your best friend. It will help you to stay organized by keeping track of deadlines, meetings, appointments and other reminders.
It may sound counterintuitive that to save time at work you actually need to work less, but breaks will boost productivity. By going for a walk, calling a friend, eating a snack… or doing whatever you fancy during your breather, you’ll return to your work refreshed and focused. Allow yourself a few breaks throughout the day, as well as a full lunch break.
Make technology work for you
Much technology is designed for the very purpose of saving us time. Embrace it. Use Timely for time tracking, Grammarly for checking your writing, Google Calendar for planning, Trello to track your tasks… the list of useful tech goes on. Using technology to automate repetitive tasks – such as expense reporting, social media scheduling, transferring files, forecasting sales – is also a very good idea. Not only will it allow you to claw back time, it’ll also save you energy and money, whilst improving efficiency, productivity and consistency.
If you are in a position to do so, delegate tasks to your team members where appropriate. This will free up your time to focus on more important tasks.
Learn to say no
Are you a ‘yes person’? Perhaps you’re a freelancer who always says yes to projects for fear of a future dry spell; maybe you’re a people pleaser who doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. Whilst we’re not suggesting flatly refusing what your boss assigns to you, sometimes it’s appropriate to be selective and say no to certain work.
Keep things tidy
Research has shown that the average person wastes more than four hours a week searching for paperwork. And the average executive loses an hour every day looking for misplaced information. Regain this time by keeping your workspace clean, tidy and organized. The same goes for your digital workspace. Set up a simple digital filing system that works for you. Pay particular attention to how you name your files, especially if there are various versions of the same document. Your sanity will thank you for it.
For frequently used documents, files and emails, create templates in order to save time on formatting and editing.
Social media… TV… The laundry… The list of distractions luring you away from your work is endless – particularly if you’re working from home. Be strict with yourself about ‘work time’ and ‘other time’. During work time, make sure your phone alerts are silenced, close all tabs on your computer not relevant to your current task, and put your huge pile of socks to be balled out of sight. Do whatever you can to remain focused.
Get to know your keyboard
Learning how to touch-type will save you time and improve your productivity (whilst making that cool ‘click click’ sound!). Using keyboard shortcuts will also boost efficiency. Common shortcuts include:
- Copy: Ctrl + C
- Cut: Ctrl + X
- Paste: Ctrl + V
- Undo: Ctrl + Z
- Redo: Ctrl + Y
Adjust your hours
Whilst this isn’t an option for everyone, many people are now able to work remotely and, as such, choose hours that suit them. In doing so, you can work the hours when you’re most productive – be that first thing in the morning, burning the midnight oil or the old-school nine to five.
Yes, it’s nice to be invited to things, but you don’t have to accept every meeting invitation. Think about whether your presence is actually necessary. Is your input required? Or could the topic be discussed via email? Attending meetings for the sake of meetings massively clogs your calendar, but by streamlining which ones you attend, you’ll have more time to knuckle down on actual work. If you’re calling a meeting, make sure there’s a genuine reason for it, and think carefully about how long it should last. Perhaps you should change the default length in your calendar from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.
According to bestselling time-management author Brian Tracy, one minute of planning saves 10 minutes of work down the line. At the end of your working day, plan your next one. Write your to-do list, including anything you think you might forget by the morning. This will help you to have a plan in place, rather than getting sidetracked by emails that arrive in your inbox overnight.
Set a ‘clocking-off’ time
Think about the most productive days you’ve had at work. They were the ones just before a vacation, right? Why? Because you were under time pressure. The fear of having to tie up loose ends whilst sipping a cocktail under a palm tree kicked you into action and boosted your productivity. Everyone has a work starting time but few have a leaving time. Changing this will change the way you work.
How you save time at work will depend on various things – your role, your work environment, your team, your boss, your other commitments, etc, etc. The key is finding time-saving methods that work for you and your specific situation. Try some – or all – of these suggested tips and keep implementing the ones that you’ve got a lot of time for.