For busy professionals, there is no doubt we live in a world where time savers feel like life savers. Work-life balance is essential but it’s increasingly difficult to achieve. During my tenure managing numerous surgery centers, I sought ways to make my days feel less daunting and leave feeling more accomplished at days’ end. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered over the years to organize and save time in my daily routine:
1. Take time to start your day with a short exercise period and/or meditation. Both activities can help you organize your day. If your mind is scattered, your day is likely to follow suit.
2. Ensure your day’s agenda and goals are realistic. Prioritize your task list to ensure you complete the most important items first. Create a flow to your routine that allows you to smoothly transition from one item to the next. Nothing gets accomplished if you are trying to tackle multiple projects simultaneously.
3. As you accomplish your agenda and goals, check them off your list. Take a moment to relish your success. You got something done – acknowledge it and let that propel you toward tackling the next item. Crossing items off your list can be a small but significant reward for staying motivated.
4. Minimize disruptions and personal interactions by using this technique: If someone enters your office space unscheduled to chat and there is no extra time in your schedule, stand up. This non-verbal cue signals you are involved in something or have somewhere to be.
5. Stay on task when in meetings and on conference calls. Tangents and side conversations waste valuable time. Focus on the purpose of your meetings. If you discover an unrelated item that warrants discussion, schedule another time to talk about it.
6. Do not procrastinate. If it’s on your daily list, do your best to complete it. Procrastinating drains the energy you sparked from accomplishing your previous task. Avoid losing the momentum you built. If you continuously dive into mindless to-do items, you’ll find yourself having to complete all the important tasks you avoided at the last minute and under greater stress and anxiety.
7. Keep phone calls concise and on point. Long conversations not only create fatigue, they cost you time. Suddenly your day got a lot shorter while your list stayed the same length. Don’t let long phone calls throw a wrench in your routine and create unnecessary chaos.
8. Ask for help or delegate when the need arises. The onus doesn’t have to always be on you to handle everything. If you work with a team, there is a reason you call them teammates.
9. Take time out for yourself. This may be a 10 or 15 minute break to get your mind off the work you are doing and rejuvenate. These little breaks can go a long way to help your mind reset and refocus.
10. Move unaccomplished items to the next day’s agenda. It won’t always be possible to tackle everything on your daily to-do list. Don’t push yourself to the limits for the sole purpose of crossing them off. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
11. Create your next day’s agenda and action plan before leaving work. Just like a football team studies before a game, get ready for tomorrow by figuring out your action plan ahead of time. This will allow to enter your office ready to go when you arrive in the morning.
12. Stay hydrated. This is not a time saver, but helps with clear thinking and prevents fatigue. Taking care of your body is crucial to your ability to attend to tasks while not draining yourself in the process. Your health should always come first!
These tips can lead to an easier-to-manage routine that should help you be – and feel – more productive. Being productive does not equate to constant fatigue. These adjustments take time but will go a long way toward helping you feel energized. Busy professionals should feel accomplished at the end of the day. Hopefully these tips help get you there!
Rick DeHart – Principal Partner