The New Year is a time to think about making changes to the way we live and work. Often these relate to getting more exercise, eating healthier food or obtaining a better work/life balance. The latter is perfectly achievable with a few simple adjustments to your working practices. It’s actually possible to work fewer hours without reducing your output, if you develop your working habits a little. So here are some new habits for the New Year to get you started.
Emails and Facebook messages popping up can be a major distraction during the working day, as can stopping to Google something you suddenly remembered to look up. Minimise distractions by closing your email and your web browser completely while you work. Not all day – just for an hour at a time. Work solidly for an hour, then check your email and other messages. Then get back to work for another hour.
You’ll be surprised at just how much more you can get done in an hour when there are no distractions. And if you remember something that you absolutely must look up before the end of the day, write a note and continue working. You can Google it at the end of the hour when you check your messages.
Most of us find our enthusiasm for work starts to wane as the day progresses, so put your hardest, least enjoyable tasks at the very top of your list each day. You can race through them first thing and then spend the rest of the day doing the work that you like best. Don’t put off the difficult tasks until late in the day, as you may find they keep slipping to the next day’s list, which can be demotivating as the week progresses and your list of less enjoyable tasks just keeps building up.
Be sure to build some flexibility into your schedule. If you plan out eight or nine hours of work per day at the start of each week, you will have no capacity for dealing with interruptions like client phone calls or with tasks that take longer than anticipated. Instead, try to schedule between 50% and 75% of your time. Taking this approach should ensure that you avoid having to work later into the evening in order to get everything done. Be realistic about the hours you want to work and, if you continually work more than you are comfortable with, build in great flexibility to give yourself more of a chance of finishing on time.
What new habits have you introduced to your approach to work this year? How are they helping you? Share your thoughts via the comments.