“I’d rather not save time or effort at the office”—said no one ever. When the overwhelming sentiment in today’s always-on world is “there aren’t enough hours in a day,” we could all likely benefit from practices that effectively streamline our tasks and manage our schedules. Here are the 7 hacks that make us better at our jobs.
1. CREATE & PRIORITIZE CHECKLISTS
This old-school technique has stood the test of time for a reason—it works. Go analog and organize to-dos in a notebook, or use an app like Evernote that syncs with your devices. Go one step further and order your tasks in a way that indicates the level of importance so you have an understanding of what must get done (a labeling system also works well here).
2. GET SMART WITH EMAIL & DEVICES
We’re obsessed with the Pause and Boomerang functions on Gmail, which prevents new messages from arriving for a given period and allow you to schedule outbound emails, respectively. Ultimately, it gives us more control over our inbox, allowing for fewer distractions and more effective communication. Check out any similar features based on which provider you use, and leverage these tools so email works for you, not against you. Also, try putting pertinent info that helps you meet your deadlines in outgoing subject lines, such as how soon you need a response. This gives your colleagues and bosses context around what kind of schedule you’re working with and cuts out ambiguity.
3. KNOW WHEN TO COMMUNICATE IN PERSON OR VIA EMAIL
The golden rule in getting any cross-functional request or challenge resolved is first asking yourself how it'll best get answered. Email is great for straightforward tasks and info that doesn't require a ton of color. In-person or phone conversations become essential when there's complexity, nuances, or anything that requires an in-depth explanation.
4. MANAGE YOUR TIME ON THE CALENDAR
When your to-do list feels infinite, go to the effort of putting in actual blocks of time on your calendar for when you want to accomplish certain things. This puts structure around tasks, holds you accountable with a reminder, and makes a situation feel less daunting when you see everything laid out and prioritized.
5. TAKE MINI BREAKS THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Even when it feels like you have no time, taking even 5 minutes to step away from your devices is essential to clear your head—read: taking a walk around the block or having a sip of water. You can expect the quality of your decision-making to improve as a result.
6. IMPLEMENT A HEADPHONES RULE
If you work in an office, it can be tempting to drop by your coworkers’ desks whenever you need them. This can be super disruptive—as a way to signal when people are doing heads-down, highly focused work, use headphones, and respect that policy company-wide.
7. CREATE A CLUTTER-FREE ZONE
Make a conscious effort to keep your desk or workspace clean and organized—chaos breeds chaos. Adding personal, well-considered touches makes it a space you want to be in and creates a vibe conducive to doing your best work.