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

Mens Health (Australia) - - Mhboss -

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.

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