Between big projects, countless meetings, and last-minute requests, the typical work day can be hectic and overwhelming. There’s so much to do, remember, and keep track of, and it’s easy to feel like you’re always behind the eight ball.
Here are five super simple ways to work more efficiently, every day. These are tips and tools that are easy to implement and can have a huge payoff with respect to your daily productivity.
How to Work More Efficiently Every Day Video
If you’d rather watch the video, here it is!
On to the tips!
#1. Colour code your calendar.
If you’re a visual person like me, a colour-coded calendar is a fantastic tool! It gives you information at a glance to make preparing for the week that much easier.
As I mentioned in The Best Way to Use an Electronic Planner, you can colour code based on project or meeting type, which is especially effective if you’re tracking your hours spent on various things.
Alternatively, you can colour code based on the action required. For example, you can put any meeting requiring preparation (on your part) in a particular colour. That way, you can use your calendar to plan when you’ll do that prep work. It gives you a constant view as to what’s coming next.
#2. Prepare your meeting materials ahead of time.
If you work in an office and run from meeting to meeting, this tip can be super helpful. When I worked in corporate, I prepared my meeting materials ahead of time most days.
First, I would look at my calendar to get a sense of the meetings I had throughout the day.
Second, I would put together one package per meeting. Each package would contain whatever materials I needed for the meeting: the agenda, meeting invite notes, and any key documents. I’d use a paper clip to keep everything together.
Third, I would add a sticky note on the front of the package with the meeting name, location, and time. That acted as a label for the papers.
And fourth, I would stack the packages in chronological order (with the earliest meeting at the top) so that I could quickly grab the package of materials needed between each meeting, or just take the whole stack with me if time was tight.
This made my life so much easier and kept me organized.
Looking to makeover your meetings? Most post Effective Meeting Facilitation: How to Get Results has you covered.
#3. Block time in your calendar.
Time blocking is something I’ve done for years, and it worked well both in the corporate world, as well as as an entrepreneur.
There are a few ways to do this.
Block time for projects
First, you can block time in your calendar to work on various projects to keep you focused every day on your most important priorities. In this way, you’re using time blocking as a tool to accomplish your key tasks.
Let’s say, for example, that you need to work on a presentation on a given day. You can block 2 hours in your calendar and mark it “Presentation Preparation”. This way, you’re mindful that it’s a priority and have visibility to the amount of time you should earmark for it.
You can then shift things around as things come up, meetings get cancelled, and priorities change. In this way, it gives you a sense of what’s on your to do list in a way that’s more flexible.
Keep in mind that if you use Outlook or another similar calendar, you can show your blocked time as “Free” so that you can leave that time open for meetings, while still blocking in what you’re planning to work on when.
Block time to keep yourself meeting-free
Second, you can use time blocking in the corporate world to keep parts of your day clear for work, email catch up, or even lunch.
My post How to Create a Time Block Schedule to Get More Done goes into time blocking in more detail.
#4. Use a consistent filing system.
This tip is probably the least glamorous of them all but, but can really help you work more efficiently.
When it comes to your filing systems (digital and hard copy), use the same naming conventions every time.
For example, if you’re working on an advertising campaign, then you would want to make sure that your physical folders, computer folders, and email folders are all named, say, “Advertising Campaign X”.
This will make a huge difference in how easily you can find documents and emails and also makes deciding where to store them that much easier.
#5. Use the right communication vehicle.
My last piece of advice is to use the right type of communication for the right item. By this I mean that sometimes there are questions or discussions that are better had in person, others that are best suited for a phone call, and even others that require just an email.
When you’re about to reach out to someone, give some thought to the best way to reach them. Is it a document you need feedback on? Sending it via email may make sense. Is it a contentious topic? Meeting face to face may be best. Need to explain something? Perhaps a phone call is easiest.
By doing this, you’ll find that you can more easily get into the routine of using the right type of communication or the right type of issue.
Let me know in the comments below: what are your tips for staying organized and efficient at work? I’d love to know!
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