14 tips to manage your time and increase your productivity

Struggling to stay focused and productive? Use our productivity and time management strategies to regain a sense of empowerment and make a return to being work happy.

1. Know your prime time - Chances are you’re more lively and upbeat at certain times of the day than others. Use your internal body clock to your advantage. Tackle challenging assignments at times when you’re most alert and productive.

2. Aim for quality, not quantity - Multitasking seems like a good way to manage your time and increase productivity at work, but repeatedly switching gears is mentally taxing and can slow you down. Try focusing on one item at a time to achieve your best results.

3. Axe the excess - You may have a super job but no one is a super hero all the time, and it’s easy to overestimate what we can accomplish, only to become frustrated by our lack of progress. That’s why it’s worth aiming for a shorter, more realistic to-do list that leaves room for unexpected projects and interruptions.

4. Communicate clearly - When relaying information or giving instructions, make sure you are as clear as possible. Cover the details upfront to save significant time answering questions or making corrections later on.

5. Say no - This can be a tough one, but sometimes you simply can’t take on another assignment no matter how small. Give yourself permission to say “no” at times. Sure, you want to build a reputation as a team player, but it’s also important to avoid career burnt out.

6. Bring in reinforcements - If everyone is working efficiently and productively, yet your team is still falling behind, consider bringing in temporary reinforcements. It is a cost-effective way to meet rising business demands while lifting the burden from overworked key employees.

7. Break down big projects - Intimidation can lead to procrastination. That’s why it can be helpful to break big, complicated projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. You’ll feel less overwhelmed. Plus, you’ll gain a wonderful sense of accomplishment each time you reach a milestone.

8. Explore apps - Take advantage of the wide selection of software specifically designed to help people increase their productivity, manage time, keep track of projects, meet deadlines and be more organised. Evernote and Focus Booster are two free apps worth trying.

9. Recondition your email reflexes - Chances are you read emails the instant they arrive. Fight the impulse to immediately react when you hear the ping of an incoming message. Pick specific times to check your inbox throughout the day.

10. Dodge distractions - When working on important assignments, turn off mobile devices, close your email and sign out of social media. That way you’ll give full attention to the task at hand.

11. Mitigate meeting mania - Rethink routine meetings that may have outlived their purpose. Or cut meeting times by one quarter to force yourself and others to stay on target.

12. Give yourself a break - Taking breaks can help you get more done by keeping you fresh, focused and interested. Solutions to complex problems often surface when we’re not intently focused on the issue. Get some fresh air and allow yourself to recharge.

13. Take care of your health - Productivity at work can hinge on what you do off the job. Eat well, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Being out of balance in any of those three areas can throw your ability to concentrate.

14. Clean up your act - If you regularly lose time because you’re scrambling to find files, try coming in early or staying back late one day to do a clean sweep of your desk. Then, get into the habit of investing a few minutes each day to tidy up.

Use these productivity and time management tips to get the most out of your day and turbo-charge your way to career happiness.

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