Want to make the most of your working day? There’s one simple answer: plan it better. If you design your day so that you’re devoting the majority of your time to high-value activities, and are reviewing what you do against your goals, you’re going to be more productive - and more valuable.
Here are five process you can go through to design better working days for yourself:
Keeping on track
Peter Bregman summarised an approach to planning and organising your day using just 18 minutes of it in a post for the Harvard Business Review blog network. The key is doing hourly reviews of your work against the goals you set.
Bregman has a plan for the first five minutes of your working day, in the article linked above. However, the whole first hour can be critical in making the most of it. Fast Company’s Kevin Purdy suggests some of the best ways of using it to get your day in shape - including ignoring your e-mail, and getting the job you’ve been dreading out of the way.
If you’re struggling with information overload and an always on culture, McKinsey has a useful framework for dealing with the problem: in short, focus, filter and forget. Giving ourselves permission to ignore certain things can be a major step towards working smarter.
Analysing time spent
Do you really know how you’re spending your time right now? If not, the MindTools Activity Log framework might allow you to start designing your day from a position of knowledge.
If you don’t have time to commit to that - perhaps a quick analysis of your last working week will able you to spot what activities were high value, and which had no value at all. Tom Searcy at Inc. provides a simple model for making your committed time more valuable.