Average work-weeks are on the increase according to this EY study, so it’s no wonder work satisfaction is sliding.  There are a finite number of hours in the week, it’s up to you to optimise them.

Are you making the best choices? Prioritise your week with these 5 tips.

1. Journal your work week

On average, Australians spend 16% of their work day wasting time. Investigating where your time is spent is a really simple way to account for these lulls in activity. Actively recording your day-to-day activities can be a real eye-opener, and a great starting point to improving your productivity. Once you have this information, you can start to identify the times of day you’re most productive, what activities take up too much time (like checking emails) and where there is potential space for activity in your ‘gap time’. Check out these free apps for time-journalling.

2. Protect what matters

Find what in your week is a non-negotiable. Whether that’s your weekly tennis match, reading bedtime stories to your kids, or practicing a new skill. Make value-based decisions on how you’re spending your time, so that you stay in control of your schedule. This is easier said than done, but it’s an important step to ensuring you make time for what matters.

3. Triage incoming tasks

The amount of time spent at work doesn’t determine how productive you are; according to this study, the most productive and least productive people actually spend the same amount of time at work, commuting and on other activities.

Using Pareto’s principle, or the 80:20 rule, is really beneficial when determining what is most effective and prioritising your time accordingly. Pareto’s principle identifies the 20% of causes that produce the 80% of outcomes, and then focuses on those results-driven areas of work (much like Growth Marketing discussed the other week). Obviously when it comes to work tasks, you can’t only work on the most beneficial tasks with the most payoff; time constraints often confuse what is urgent with what is important. Triaging tasks means evaluating how urgently a task needs to addressed, as well as how important it is. Using this quadrant template, you can easily prioritise to get more done.

4. Take control

Here’s a two-step process to taking control and cutting out the tasks that taking up too much of your time:

  • The first step is learning to say no. It’s really easy to over-commit and say yes to every request thrown at you. When things get un-manageable, you’re left with broken promises and your performance on other areas suffers. It’s really important to communicate effectively what you can and can’t take on.
  • The next step is delegating (exactly what we warned you not to be at the receiving end of). Delegate, automate and outsource tasks when appropriate to eliminate high urgency, low importance tasks from your workload. Outsourcing tasks is now much easier with companies like Freelancer and Airtasker; simply compare the cost with the amount of time you’re saving, and a number of apps are out there to automate data transfer and streamline processes.

5. Break it down

A big productivity killer is multi-tasking. When our attention is divided between tasks, it takes more time to complete each component that we’re working on. By breaking things into bite-size chunks, and ensuring that we give our entire attention to one chunk, daunting tasks become more manageable, and we ensure we remain focused. Using the Pomodoro Technique, you break your time up into short, 25 min intervals with 5 min breaks between each, regular breaks keeping you on task. You can also break larger tasks into smaller, easier-to-manage tasks.

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