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How Do I Get More Time? The Work Edition

It's Friday? How did that happen? I just need a little more time this week... Have you ever found yourself asking this?

I admittedly love my post-it notes but by the end of the week, it can be hard to see what needs my attention most and what needs my attention now?

So how can you get more time but more importantly, how can you be sure that you are spending your work time doing the most important work? What specifically can we do to help make more time? improving all the systems!

Let's cover some specific tips about how you can get more time at work each week.

Tip #1 - Study your Time

Do you actually know how you spend your work time? While this may involve some analysis, it can be well worth your time.

If you were able to track your time closely for a week, might you be surprised?

Some time studies are very involved and track specific actions in order to understand how efficient a task is completed. You can do a very unofficial time study though, over your week or even part of your week and get some insight into what activities you are doing during your work day. Here's what I suggest:

  • Use a simple template to track your time like, this one

  • The more days you are able to track, the better your data will be but start with what is manageable for you.

  • For each hour, simply write what you did and for how long (email - 15, returned client calls - 15, meeting - 25, personal organization - 5).

  • Be honest with how you spent your time.

  • At the end of your days, group and tally the time for analysis

This information may help provide some insights into how you are really spending your work time.

Tip #2 - Paper Review

Now that you have an idea of how you are spending your time during a week, how can you identify what the highest priority items are each week for attention during that time?

A Paper Review is a weekly time allocated for reviewing all papers so that you can identify your highest priority actionable items for the upcoming week. Everything gets your attention during this time and you decide what needs action. Then those tasks get scheduled on your calendar. This process is always Step 1 for me when I am feeling overwhelmed at home but it's also my most effective way to stay on top of my highest priorities at work.

Work groupings will look different than groupings for your home but consider the Paper Review as the base for how you get more time. I wrote how exactly I do it here.

Tip #3 - Power Hour

This tip and the next one were also part of the home edition tips but it's because they are so versatile. We all have tasks that we avoid doing. What if you dedicated one hour (or whatever time makes sense to you) to tackling those irritating or remaining tasks that never get completed? Power through them! Once you get started, it will be so satisfying to cross another off the list. It frees up brain space and things lingering in your schedule.

Tip #4 - Task Stack

When you do schedule all those actionable tasks on your calendar as part of the Paper Review, use task stacking to do like things in one sitting. This minimizes shifting between tasks and maximizes your efforts while you are focused.

During a lunch hour, make all 3 of the phone calls that need to be done for the day or set a short meeting to address several items that you need to with a coworker.

Focused time to address like tasks will allow for tackling more items together and certainly set you up to make other time available.

Tip #5 - Tools

I won't begin to try to identify all the productivity tools available these days. There are mobile apps, online tools and software galore in this space. My suggestion here is to try some of them and find something that works for you.

Note: The Paper Review process is simply that; it's a process for everything to get your attention so that it can be prioritized and then scheduled. The tools that you use to then schedule and manage those tasks is totally up to you! Take advantage of some wonderful technology options to help you get more time.

Tip #6 - Friday Planning

I may have left one of the best for last and if you can commit some period of time in your Friday afternoon to schedule out the following week, it can make all the difference!

Imagine leaving the week knowing that you have scheduled all the tasks that you need to take action on already on the calendar for the next week. Talk about freeing up mental space!

I want to emphasize that these tips may only be good for a season and like all systems, you will have to revisit them but once you have these tools, just circle back and refine.

Any one or all of these approaches may help you build processes for managing your time and over time, you can utilize the time saved for what you choose. What would you do with more time?

Wait! There's another list of tips for getting more time at home here!


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