Spending more time at work isn’t the answer. Just because you spend more time on work projects above and beyond your regular eight-hour workday doesn’t mean you’re actually getting more done.
Instead of working harder, you should strive to work smarter. When you do, you’ll find that you can spend a lot less time in the office and a lot more time living your life, all without compromising your performance on the job.
Update to More Efficient Software
There’s a possibility that you’re spending more time at work than you should, not because you’re working inefficiently, but because you’re stuck working with inefficient software.
If you have any control over the software you use throughout the day, look for ways to retire outdated legacy systems and update to more modern solutions. You will undoubtedly enjoy faster load times, avoid operational shutdowns, and programs can be run in mere minutes instead of hours.
It’s true that downloading a new system costs money, and it may take you a good chunk of time to make sure you understand the new system, but once everyone is up and running, you’ll spend a lot less time on the computer.
Stop Multitasking on the Job
If you’ve got a lot to do, and you’re trying to do it all in less time, you’re probably tempted to multitask. Although you may feel like you’re getting more done, the opposite is actually true. Multitasking doesn’t work.
The truth about multitasking is that you aren’t actually doing two or more things at the same time. Instead, you’re task switching, and every time you switch from one thing to another, you lose a few seconds while your brain catches up to what’s going on. It increases your chances of making mistakes, and it can cause unnecessary stress.
Instead, focus on one task at a time. Block out times in your day to focus on different activities, then give the next activity your full attention when it’s time to switch. You’ll actually end up getting more done.
Take Your Breaks
Not only are you prone to multitasking behavior when you feel like you have a lot to do and not a lot of time, but you are probably also tempted to skip your breaks. Although it’s easy to see how skipping your breaks could help you leave the office earlier, it’s actually much better to take a short rest.
Breaks can provide you with some surprising benefits. You can avoid decision fatigue by giving your brain periodic breaks, they help you consolidate memories so you can remember more about what happened during the day, and taking a small rest can actually boost productivity and creativity.
Breaks don’t have to be long in order to be effective. A quick five minute break can be just enough to reinvigorate you for the rest of the day, while actually taking your lunch can help you clear your head and discover a solution to an important problem.
Take Control of Your Email
There are a lot of things that suck up a lot of time at work, but no other thing seems more pointless than spending a lot of time combing through your email. Take control of your email and you can spend less time sitting at your desk.
Email tips include:
- Shut off email notifications
- Schedule a few times each day to answer messages
- Create canned responses for frequently used messages
- Categorize emails by importance
- Avoid checking email after a certain time each day
Schedule Something Important Right After Work
Even if you do the things on this list, you may find that it’s still difficult to leave work on time. There always seems to be something that needs your attention!
You deserve to have a life outside of work, but if you’re finding that you’re dealing with things well past the end of your work day, trick yourself into leaving on time by scheduling something important right after work. Whether it’s meeting up with a friend, a doctor’s appointment, or a massage at your favorite spa, you’ll be more likely to find ways to deal with issues tomorrow if you know that you need to leave on time today.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll get a lot more done simply by spending more hours at work. You deserve a life outside of the office, and you can actually increase your productivity by spending less time on the clock. Follow the tips on this list and you can leave on schedule and spend more time doing other things you love.