From social media to social time, both during and after work, there’s almost no end to the things than can derail your efforts to work efficiently. And while you may be committed to using your time more wisely, there is such a thing as spending too much time focused on work – something that doesn’t actually help you achieve more, reminds chartered occupational psychologist Emma Donaldson-Feilder on the National Health Service website. Instead, your focus should be on doing quality work.
See also: Time Management Mistakes to Avoid
In case you need some valuable reminders of how to manage your time, here are the ten top techniques.
1. Disable automatic alerts
Those push notifications from your smartphone and pop-ups from your calendar are not helping you stay focused – they’re pulling you away from the task you should be doing right now.
2. Use social media as a reward
If anything’s become a time waster in the modern workplace, it is social media. Avoid the temptation by signing out of your accounts during the day, and using it as a form of fun or relaxation at the end of the day.
3. Stop multitasking
When you’re trying to do two things at once, you’re doing both of them badly. Focus on one thing at a time. Remember: quality, not quantity.
4. Minimize meetings
In the workplace, long meetings can be a huge time sucker. If you’re able to control their length and scope, do so. Send out an agenda ahead of time and make sure everyone sticks to it. During the meeting, don’t be afraid to be the person to point out when the conversation has devolved into something insignificant, and encourage everyone to focus on the purpose of the meeting.
5. Learn to say 'no'
You might want to take on that new project or to be a part of that new advisory board, but once again, doing too much means you can’t do anything very well at all. Thus, practice the art of saying ‘no’. Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings – remember: it’s your personal success that will suffer if you don’t do that thing well.
6. Make a weekly schedule on Sundays
Preplanning your days goes a long way toward using your time as efficiently as possible. On top of penciling out what you plan to accomplish at work, spend some time planning your meals, making grocery lists, and sending out reminders to the rest of your family about what’s on tap for the week.
7. Make a to-do list the night before
Your preplanning shouldn’t end with a weekly session, however. At the beginning or end of every work day, also plan out how you’re going to spend your hours.
8. Build in some time for interruptions
As part of that hourly breakdown of tasks, build in some time for people to be able to talk to you about upcoming projects, ask questions, and the like. Call it your "office hours" or whatever you like, but make it clear that’s the time you have to interact with other people in the office. If you really need to get the message across, hang a "do not disturb" sign on your door or the wall of your cubicle.
9. Organize your desk
When your office space is organized, it gets easier to organize your mind. Put away the clutter at the end of the day, and keep only items that you actually use on the surface of your desk. That way you won’t get distracted by a mid-afternoon cleaning session when you should be cranking out that project for your boss.
10. Keep track of your goals
Setting long and short term goals can be a great way to continue to make progress in your career. The SMART goal setting model involves setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Another part of the process involves breaking the tasks you need to complete those goals into small tasks that you can add to your calendar. After you’ve completed a goal, look back at what was successful and what wasn’t, and use that to set more goals – with realistic time frames and tasks – in the future.
See also: 10 Ways to Formulate a Career Goal
In a world filled with constant distractions, staying on task and using your time as wisely as possible can be a challenging feat indeed. But the result of your discipline will be worth the effort.