YOUR 9-5 ESCAPE HATCH
Working late? Don’t do it. A study at Harvard Business School found employees who left the office on time increased their productivity. They communicated more effectively, planned ahead and streamlined their workloads. The lesson: work less, accomplish mo
GET POWER FROM A GRID
“Break up your time into four grids,” says Neil Shah of the Stress Management Society. Box one is for important and urgent tasks, box two for urgent but not important ones, three for important but not urgent tasks, and the last box for non-urgent and unimportant jobs. “The only time you start working on box two is when all of box one is done.” If a new job comes in, slot it into its rightful box rather than letting it take over. Replying to that email about the office footy tipping comp can wait.
HAVE A DAILY EMAIL HOUR
“Deal with email when you’re not that fresh, because a lot of it doesn’t take too much thinking,” says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. He recommends doing this for an hour at 3pm, as your energy levels dip and you start to think about heading out the door. The aim is to use this time to keep your email fully updated. “That way you stay focused on the critical stuff you need to get done instead of letting yourself get distracted by the latest and loudest messages.”
THE WEEKEND REVIEW
Blocking out time to go through your calendar and to-do list ensures you leave on time the following week. “Do it Friday between 2pm and 4pm,” says Allen. “Look at new projects and make decisions about upcoming issues so they don’t blow up in your face.” The easiest way to do this is to make a list of everything you need to do during the next week. Also use the time to look at what’s gone wrong in the past week. The notes you make will stop the same thing happening again. The two-hour review saves up to an hour a day, ensuring that when it’s time to clock off, you’re slinging your bag over your decidedly-more-relaxed shoulder.
KEEP YOUR DEADLINES SHORT
Parkinson’s Law, taken from a 1955 essay in The Economist by Cyril Parkinson says that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” You can apply this adage by setting yourself shorter deadlines. “If you only give yourself a certain number of hours to do the work, you’re automatically more strategic in completing it,” says Allen. Enforce tighter deadlines by breaking projects into distinct stages, says time management consultant Claire Tompkins. Promise your client a detailed update on a given day. This will ensure that just because you’re doing things more quickly, quality doesn’t slip.