If you’re reading this over the weekend, you’re probably procrastinating — and most likely, not because you’re already bored of family barbecues this early in the summer. No, odds are, you’re working on the weekend again, despite promising yourself this wouldn’t happen. How did you get here? Well, in part, it’s because you’re losing time to things you don’t need to do.
Here’s how to steal back enough time to enjoy your Saturdays again:
1. Answer email only three times a day.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll definitely say it again: answering email as it comes in is the single biggest time suck in your day. For one thing, it forces you to react to other people’s needs, instead of proactively structuring your work time; for another, it prevents batching tasks, which can shave minutes off a crazy day.
Even if you can’t get the go-ahead to check in two or three times a work day, shutting down your alerts and answering email once an hour will save you time and stress. Just make sure the people who might need you at a moment’s notice are aware that this is your new system.
2. Work a slightly different schedule than your co-workers.
Can you get into work a half hour before your colleagues? If so, you can buy yourself some work time without distraction. Staying late can theoretically accomplish the same thing, but you’re less likely to be fresh and eager to tackle new tasks once you’ve put in a full day of work.
3. Plan your day by the hour.
One of the most efficient to-do list systems we’ve ever seen belonged to a former co-worker who mapped out her days by the hour, similar to a class schedule for students. Did she always stick with the plan? Of course not. But it gave her days a sense of structure and saved time that other folks spent trying to figure out which task to tackle next.
4. Goofing off? Get up and do something else.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect stellar productivity advice from a comedy site, but Luke McKinney at Cracked offers a solid tip for getting stuff done: namely, work or stop pretending to work.
His advice is for freelancers or people who work at home (and some of it is not safe for web filters, if not exactly NSFW) but it’s good for anyone with access to the internet at work. If you find yourself goofing off, get up and walk around the block. Get a cup of coffee. Heck, if you’re forced to sit still and pretend to be enthused, even switch tasks. Just don’t waste your time. You’ll have to make it up later, when there are fun things to do.
5. And speaking of taking a walk…
…don’t sit any longer than you have to. Nothing saps energy more than doing nothing, and no matter how hard your brain is working, your body doesn’t know the difference. Get up and move around once in a while. You’ll feel better, be healthier, and get more done.
Plus, you’ll have more get-up-and-go for your suddenly work-free weekend.
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