Today’s office hours can look a little different than the traditional 9 to 5 gig. For one thing, your work space may require a commute, or it could be in your own home.
Regardless of where you’re working, no one wants to get stuck on the job past 6 p.m. It gets old fast. It’s an unhealthy cycle for you and your loved ones.
But the work has to get done, right?
Yes, the to-do list piles up faster than you can get one thing done. Deadlines come and go, and you feel like you’re always juggling dozens of tasks.
This fast pace is dangerous to your health, both mentally and physically, though.
If you’re always first to arrive and last to leave, closing down the office after 6 p.m., it’s time to take a step back. You may need to reevaluate your day to see how you can be more productive with less work.
The saying “work smarter, not harder,” is on point. When you apply some strategic time management tips to your day, you can get the job done and have a life, too.
With these five productivity hacks, you’ll get out of the office by 6 p.m. every day!
1. Put Your Health and Family First
Your job is essential, but you can’t get it done if you’re sick or rundown. And it’s not as important as your family’s wellbeing, either.
For these two essential factors, you have to start your day a bit earlier than you might otherwise want. But it will be useful once you get used to that slightly earlier wake-up call.
Fifteen or thirty minutes of extra sleep really isn’t doing you the good you think it is. Those few minutes can be spent giving you some cushion in the morning. Then, you won’t be rushing around.
How, you ask?
Set a morning routine that lets you do something fun or mindful rather than hitting snooze.
Take the extra time to work out, read a motivational book, listen to a podcast, or meditate. Cook a healthy breakfast for you and yours if it relaxes you. If not, sit and eat cereal with your family and start the day mentally and physically healthy.
Whatever you do, try to make the mornings as lowkey as possible.
2. Prioritize Your Day Right Away
Your morning routine at the office is important, too. Being instantly bombarded with problems starts your day in a disorganized manner.
End the day with a short list of tasks you meant to get to but couldn’t if there were any. Consult this list the next morning.
Then sit down for five to ten minutes and make a list for that day’s tasks. Check your planner, yesterday’s list, and any emails for the day. Focus on the now and snooze any non-urgent emails or tasks for another day.
Set priorities by trying the Eisenhower Matrix, popularised in the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” This matrix helps break down tasks in order of urgency.
Once you learn the basics of the matrix, it’s easy to put it into action for all areas of your busy life!
3. Learn the Art of Time Blocking
If you’re always in demand, time blocking can seem like a waste of precious minutes. Instead of looking at it that way, see it as a structured plan for what you need to get your day on track.
When you get really good at time blocking, it helps you set boundaries, too. Learn which times of the day are your best productivity sessions. Then, guide others to avoid contacting you during these times.
Time blocking can be done in multiple ways. It works no matter how busy your day is.
Find a method that works for you
- The Pomodoro Method - Take your marathon of work and break it into smaller sprints. After each sprint, or “Pomodoro,” set a stopping point. You can check in on others and handle small fires, or you can take a break.
- The Two-Minute Rule- This is good for those who like to procrastinate on the small stuff that piles up. With this method, you’ll use your basic time blocking strategy. But if a task shows up on your plate that takes less than two minutes, go ahead and do it right away.
- Eat That Frog - This method, popularised by Brian Tracy, suggests you go ahead and do the worst things first. Get the nasty stuff out of the way, and then move on with your day.
There are many other methods of organising your day with time blocks. Keep trying until you find one that revolutionises your schedule!
4. Create an End-of-the-Day Routine, Too
Have you ever walked into your office only to be instantly frustrated with how you left it? The sad part is the only one you can blame is yourself when that happens.
Overwhelmed, hurried You-of-Yesterday was not thinking of tomorrow. Now Morning-You-of-the-Next-Day has to deal with messy leftovers.
Be kind to your future self, and set an end-of-the-day routine. It helps you get out on time and still leaves you with a reliable, stress-free starting point tomorrow.
Use these tips for your end-of-day routine
- Start winding down your day an hour before you plan to leave
- Don’t take on new work at this time
- Review your list for the day and see what needs prioritising for the morning
- Check last-minute emails and snooze anything that doesn’t need an immediate response
- Communicate with the senders and fix the problem if it only requires a minute or two
- Otherwise, let them know you’ll put it on your list to take care of at a specified time
- Straighten your desk and remove everything that is not necessary (the less on the desk, the better)
- Leave a short list of priority tasks for the next day
Once you’re finished, it’s clock-out time, so go ahead and leave. Whatever’s left can wait, but your sanity and family can’t!
5. Be Okay with Not Being Perfect
You’ll have days without having accomplished everything on your list. These days can seem like a failure, but they’re not.
Look over your to-do list for the day. Did you cross off any potential fires? Hit your significant deadlines? Will anything catastrophic happen because you missed a few things?
No one is perfect, and chances are, you’re going to be more upset about the things you didn’t do than anyone else. Not feeling perfect is a mental struggle you need to work through to manage that work/life balance.
Breaking up with perfectionist tendencies will be the healthiest thing you can do. Go home and enjoy your personal life. Work can wait!
You have to get the job done right and well, but it can’t come at the expense of your health and family. Use these five hacks to up your productivity and lessen the time you spend in the office!
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Portside Ventura Harbor with 5 years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Portside Ventura Harbor the place to call home.