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How to get time back on your side

Posted on from Robert Half

In today's high pressured business world, there are never enough hours in the day. Clive Davis offers tips on working smarter and avoiding productivity-sapping pitfalls.

Not enough hours in the day?

You’re not unusual if you frequently find yourself having this thought or vocalising it. As many companies operate with reduced employee levels today, more is expected of each employee.

As simplistic as it may sound, time-management techniques can really help.

Beware of the multitasking myth

Common wisdom dictates that the more tasks you tackle at once, the more you can accomplish. In many cases, this simply isn’t true. Juggling tasks simultaneously can diminish both the quantity and quality of your output. As the writer Publilius Syrus observed long ago: “To do two things at once is to do neither.”

Some endeavors simply require undivided attention. Fight the urge to multitask by reminding yourself that a brain that’s being pulled in multiple directions is more prone to error - which only creates more work (and headaches) for you in the long run.

Don't let your email manage you

Do you react like Pavlov’s dog whenever you hear a tone announcing a new e-mail that has arrived? Many professionals have fallen into the habit of halting whatever they’re working on (and consequently losing their train of thought) to view and respond to e-mail messages the second they arrive. This hampers - not enhances - efficiency.

Recondition your reflexes. Unless you are awaiting an urgent message from your boss or project leader, check your inbox at set times each day rather than reading each individual message immediately. In addition, clean out your inbox several times a month. Trash unnecessary messages and file the important ones in an appropriate folder for easy retrieval.

Improve your timing

In a recent Robert Half survey, senior managers were asked to name the least productive time of day for employees. Their responses suggested that late afternoon is the most common time for workers to hit the proverbial wall. Thirty-seven per cent of managers said 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the least productive period. Coming in second was 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as cited by 28 per cent of respondents.

The takeaway lesson:

Take advantage of the clock. Work on assignments requiring greater concentration when you’re focused and engaged. If you tend to slump right after lunch or you always get tired the last 45 minutes of the day, use these less-energetic periods to handle routine, lower-priority tasks such as organising files.

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