Staying on task and keeping to a schedule at work is easier said than done. If you need help sticking to a daily schedule, start by creating a plan, making a daily to-do list, and avoiding the distractions that can so easily derail even the best-laid plans.
Set a Schedule
Having a set time to conduct each of the day's important tasks can help you stay organized in your mind and also let employees, co-workers or family members know when you're available for things other than the tasks at hand. Use your Outlook or iCal tools to set the schedule and share it with others, and break your tasks into 30- to 60-minute chunks. For example, if you're bogged down by email throughout the day, give yourself one hour in the morning for checking and responding to it, and then leave it alone the rest of the day. When you're pressed for time you'll often get more done, according to an article in Business Insider. Work diligently during your blocks of work time and then move onto the next block.
Create a To-Do List
Managing your time is also about prioritizing tasks. At the end of each day, make a list of what you need to get done the next day. Or, schedule 30 minutes at the start of each work day to list what needs to get done. In either case, give yourself one big task to tackle right away, no matter what. You might have other things that are also important, but it's easy to get bogged down by too many items and then try to multitask to get it all done. Big tasks might include finishing a project or creating a client's marketing plan. Little tasks might include posting on social media or ordering more business cards.
Even with a well-planned day, it's easy to stand in your own way and get distracted. From social media channels to the beautiful spring day you're seeing outside your window, there's no shortage of things to occupy your mind other than work. Use social media blocking tools such as Cold Turkey to block you from social sites for a period of time during the day, or use monitoring apps such as RescueTime to track your daily computer tasks and how you're spending your time. This can help you find additional ways to reduce wasted minutes and stay on schedule. Also, eliminate workspace distractions. Wear headphones to tune out loud co-workers, or tidy up your desk at the end of the work day to keep you from fretting about the clutter.
If that beautiful spring day outside the window is indeed eating away at your productivity, don't deny yourself -- you deserve breaks, too. A 2011 study conducted at the University of Illinois found that taking short breaks can actually help you get more done. When you create that schedule, make time for short 10-minute breathers, as well as time spent completely away from the workplace. Go for a walk, head to the gym, or find a quiet spot in the park to collect your thoughts. When you return to the office, you'll be in a better position to tackle the next big thing on your to-do list.
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