Time is our most precious resource; once it’s gone we can never get it back. Because of this we are constantly on the lookout for ways to maximize the time that we have and to make certain that we are using every second of that time wisely.

Perhaps the place where we are the most time -conscious is at work. We have a finite number of hours per day to devote to work and we’d probably all rather be doing something else. Time with family, travel, and sleeping are common activities daydreamt about during working time.

Too much work
photo credit: Klaus M

We usually try to be as productive as we possibly can, but there are a few things that we could be doing differently. Let’s look at some of the ways that we can save time while at work, so we’ll have a little bit more of it to do the things we really love.

Reorganize Your Time

There are periods during your day when you might be doing nothing but wasting time. Traffic jams, lines at the coffee machine or copier, and waiting for print jobs to finish can all eat into the limited time you have at work. It’s important to realize where your time is going.

If your work hours are somewhat flexible, consider leaving your house a few minutes earlier or later in the morning. Even just a 15 minute difference can keep you out of the worst of the traffic. Additionally, if your building has an elevator that’s crowded in the morning, taking the stairs might save time. However, you should time each method of transport and be certain that one really is better than the other.

While you’re waiting to grab coffee, or for your coworker to finish her copy task, check your email on your tablet or phone or jot some notes for an upcoming meeting. There’s no reason that you should let your idle time be too idle.

Set specific times throughout the day to check your email. Unless you’re expecting something important, checking email more often can cause you to lose time that is better spent elsewhere.

Streamline Your Tasks

multitasking
photo credit: Thomas Hawk

There are several office- related tasks that you can complete more efficiently, which saves time for everyone. If it’s your job to handle the mail for the office, invest in shipping software that allows you to print business postage right from your desk. No more wasting time on trips to the post office.

Learn to properly use the tools you have at your disposal. Become more familiar with the intricacies of Microsoft Office or other software you use. It’s likely that you’re not using them to their full potential. If other members of your team are in the same situation, consider a group training session, so everyone can be on the same page.

If you haven’t already, learn how to delegate. People on your team have different strengths, and their jobs can coordinate with your job to make your job easier. Determine the tasks that team members are prepared to accomplish and assign those tasks. Ultimately this saves time for everyone and makes your team or department function more smoothly.

Work Ahead, Within Reason

It’s normal to look ahead toward things that have yet to be done, but this can sabotage your time. iIf you’re spending time thinking about things that haven’t happened yet, you’re taking time away from the things that are happening now.

Keep an up-to-date to do list, but don’t look at it until the end of the day. A few minutes before you leave in the afternoon, clear your desk and prepare your tasks for the following day. This way you’ll have a clear idea of what you’ve just accomplished and what still needs to be completed the next day.

Take Breaks

It might seem like a good idea to work through your breaks or your lunch hour, but this couldn’t be more wrong. By robbing yourself of the chance to clear your head, regroup, and refuel you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Take breaks religiously and try to keep a regular lunch schedule. Make sure that you get outside, walk for a minute, and get some fresh air. Don’t look at work emails while you’re eating. Take that time to check your social media accounts or play games or catch up on personal phone calls. A mental and physical break will help you feel recharged and ready to tackle your afternoon tasks with gusto.

A few simple changes to your work day can have a great impact on your overall productivity. Try to find ways to maximize your time at work and get back to doing the things you’d really like to do.