Working smart to gain the best results

Working smart really translates to using your time well to gain the best results.

Clearly using time poorly will result in poor or no results, but that really is how many of us tackle our daily workload. Procrastination often eats up the time needed to do a proper job. Then the deadline nears and we dash something out, which is often of poor quality and has so many errors that is needs to be redone and it becomes the task for the following work day. Do you want to break this cycle?

Time management is the key to an efficient and productive workday. However, time management is another misnomer; you cannot mange time. It will proceed on its course regardless of anything you do. But you can, and must, manage yourself and your approach to using time.

There are several key elements to using your time productively and they are working at your peak, making lists of tasks, and keeping a time journal.

Everyone can relate to working at his or her peak time of energy. Most people have low periods during the day, sometimes occurring right after lunch and sometimes, waiting until the late afternoon to sneak up. Many people just can’t get with it in the morning. When you are at a lull it makes sense to take a break to wait until you become alert again. Then you can really tackle things. However, most bosses can’t see things this way and require you to stay at your desk. You can still take steps to nullify the stultifying effects of on the job drowsiness. Use your peak hours to begin the difficult work you need to be creative to do. Reserve routine tasks that you could literally do in your sleep, for your down times. However, ever though it may be routine, do not file things during this time. A mistake here can result in a huge waste of time frantically searching for misplaced items.

A corollary to working during your peak time is don’t exceed your time of peak attention, which usually lasts for spurts of 45 to 90 minutes. Learn to take breaks and avoid getting overtired. Taking a break is not wasting time, your brain is still processing information; you are just preventing becoming burned out.

Most time management consultants recommend making to-do lists and putting every task on it, no matter how small. This accomplishes several things. The list itself allows you to get a tangible view of what needs doing, and then to prioritize it. It also lets you plan activities that are suitable for the different energy cycles of your day. The most important benefit of a to-do list, though, may be that once you have written everything down, you no longer have to remember it. You can stop carrying things in your head and it is cleared it for more creative thought.

Once you have made your to-do list, which represents how your should spend your time, focus on your actual time journal. At the end of the day, after completing work, jot down just what you actually did and when. This will allow you to identify the periods when you were productive and those where you frittered time away. After you keep a journal for a few days, patterns will begin to emerge, and you will be able to identify the things, people and events that rob your time.

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