But before you get started with developing an efficient routine, it's often helpful to figure out what type of time manager you are. If you need help with this, our simple time management test will provide you with a detailed analysis of your time management style and help you identify where you're going wrong with managing your time. Once you’ve established this, you will find it much easier to implement the tips included in this article.
In the following article, I will talk about:
- the importance of having a daily routine
- how to evaluate this routine and see if it works for you
- and the importance of sticking to your routine.
I will also give you some tips on how to stop wasting time, such as:
- making to-do lists
- batching smaller tasks together
- taking advantage of your most productive time of the day
- creating a daily schedule
- creating a weekly and monthly schedule
- taking regular breaks
- getting rid of distractions
- using technology to be more productive
- getting regular exercise
- and having a healthy diet.
How to Develop a Routine at WorkYou will probably find that you already have a routine in place, but this may not necessarily be the most efficient and productive routine for you. It’s worth taking the time out to reassess your work habits and find a way of working that will help you stop wasting time and become more efficient. Not only will this help you get through your work more quickly, but you will also find that you feel less stressed when you know you have a realistic routine that will get the work done.
Make a ListComing in without a proper routine can really delay your start to the day. The next time you go into work, you should take some time to make a list of your daily tasks and the things you want to accomplish. Include everything, even smaller tasks like checking your emails and doing paperwork, so you can include these in your new routine.
Batch ProcessOnce you have a clear picture of all the tasks you have to get through, you can start to create a process to work through them. You can batch process smaller tasks such as making phone calls, responding to emails and processing paperwork into hour-long periods. This will allow you to work through them consecutively, which will save you the time you would normally waste switching between tasks.
Think About TimingEveryone is different when it comes to how productive they are at different times of the day. While there are things you can do to improve this, it’s worth having a think about when you are at your best. If it’s in the morning, then it’s better to schedule in important tasks, or tasks that require a lot of concentration, for that time of the day. Then you can schedule in the easier, less laborious tasks, for the end of the day. That way you make the best use of your time and you can get through your work much quicker when you know you can apply the right level of concentration for each task.
Create a scheduleNow that you have grouped together smaller tasks into batches, take a look at the rest of the tasks on your list and start creating a daily routine. Depending on the work you do and how long tasks normally take, it might be useful to create a schedule with half hour or hour long slots. You don’t have to schedule everything down to the last minute, but it’s useful to have slots that can then become routine.
Remember Weekly and Monthly TasksWhile it’s easy to think about the daily tasks that need to be included into your schedule, you don’t want to forget about important weekly and monthly tasks that also have to be completed. Fit these into your weekly schedule and give yourself enough time to complete them in case there are any last minute problems or changes.
Schedule in Breaks
This may seem a bit counterproductive, but it’s important that you include short breaks into your routine. If you avoid taking breaks you will end up pushing yourself too far and that can lead to daydreaming and drifting as your mind tries to avoid doing work.
Take a few minutes away from mental tasks to go make a cup of tea or go for a short walk. This will allow you to recharge and get you in the right state of mind to fully concentrate on work again.
Think About Those DistractionsSome of the biggest time wasters are distractions like your phone, the internet, social media, as well as fellow colleagues. These will make it much more difficult to stick to your routine, so it may be worth finding a way to include them in your schedule. Take a tea break with a colleague for a quick catch up, or use a break to check your personal emails. By making them a part of your routine, you can limit the amount of time you waste on these.
Use Technology to Help YouAlthough technology can be very distracting - it's far too easy to waste hours on Facebook or Whatsapping your friends - it can also be a time management saviour. Productivity apps such as Workflowy help you keep your idea and notes organised, tracking tasks and allowing you to create a mind map or sorts. Or you could try Momento, a mobile app that encourages you to enter all your thoughts, ideas and distractions into the app, freeing your mind so you can focus on the task in hand. Time Planner is another personal productivity app designed specifically with time management in mind, helping you schedule tasks on a daily basis. Experiment and see what works best for you - just don't waste too much time on it as that would be counter-productive!
Does it Work for You?Once you have developed a schedule, it’s important to try it out and see if it actually works for you first before you make yourself stick with it. The whole point is to increase your productivity at work and get you to stop wasting important time.
Try out your routine and if you find that something doesn’t quite fit, make a note of it so that you can change it. If any tasks come up which you hadn’t thought to include, take another look at your schedule and find a way to fit it in. These early adjustments to your schedule will help you create something that flows and you can easily work with.
Stick to ItNow that you have found a routine that works for you, you need to have a little discipline and stick with it. This may seem difficult at first as you try to adjust to a new way of working, but it’s the most important part. Set yourself a goal and go for it without quitting for at least a month. This will make it seem more achievable and before you know it the new routine will have sunk in.
If you are finding it challenging, then it may be worth setting yourself smaller targets and developing a reward system. There is nothing more motivating than having something to work towards, so think about small rewards that you can give yourself for completing certain tasks.
Once you get set into a routine, the actions will become automatic and you will find that they require less thought and energy. You can easily find ways of making it more efficient when you are completing tasks one after the other. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way if you find that this helps you streamline the process.
Developing a Routine Outside of WorkHaving a set routine in your personal life can have a positive impact on your productivity at work, so it’s well worth trying to develop one. As with your work schedule, you should make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in your personal life during the week. This can include things like grocery shopping, doing the laundry, exercise, socializing or cleaning the house.
By developing a routine for your personal life, you can avoid leaving things to the last minute that can leave you feeling stressed and tired and which can then have an impact on your work.
Lifestyle Habits That Can Increase ProductivityBuilding certain habits into your routine can help to raise your energy levels and help you become a more productive member of staff. By making certain changes to your lifestyle, you can become more alert and focused, which will help you to stop wasting important time.
ExerciseTry and include exercise into your schedule as this has shown to boost brainpower, sharpen your memory, reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. More importantly, workers who exercise on a regular basis have been found to be more productive. If possible, try and fit some exercise into your lunch break, as this appears to be the ideal time for your body’s circadian rhythms.
Healthy DietMany people will skip breakfast and eat a quick lunch at their desks because they feel they simply do not have the time to waste on preparing proper meals. However, it’s important that you make time in your daily routines to plan and prepare your meals.
By making sure that you give your body all the nutrients it needs you can make sure that you have the energy you need to keep your productivity levels up during the day. Brain powering foods to include in your diet are fish, blueberries, avocado, dark chocolate, and whole grains.
Keep It UpThe easiest part of a routine is developing it. The real problem is trying to keep it up, particularly if you take a break from it. If you find that your work is changing and you are picking up new tasks, then it’s worthwhile taking another look at your routine and finding ways to improve it.
If you notice that you are stepping away from your routine and getting caught up in distractions, then you should set yourself new targets to help you to stick with it. Once you get settled into a routine you will easily find that it can have a hugely positive impact on your life. Not only will it make you much quicker and more efficient, but you will also find that it can reduce levels of anxiety and stress as you feel more organised and less pressure to find a way to complete your work.