People are often weary of delegation because things take too long to explain, says Peter Turla, time management expert and founder of The National Management Institute. While that may be true the first time, not enough people view delegation as a potential growth opportunity. “Don’t get caught in the mentality that you should do the task because you have the most experience,” he says. “Think of it as sharing the workload and training.”
Most people take breaks during low or slow points during their day, but that makes it harder to regain productivity, says Pam Vaccarro, CEO of Designs on Time. She suggests scheduling 7-to-8-minute breaks in the middle or end of your most productive times, which typically occur 12 hours apart. "It will be easier to get back into work mode, and you will feel more relaxed," she says.
It’s tempting to take a break in the day to catch up with friends on the phone, but that time can always be better spent. Instead, use your commute to chat. "I have my cell phone linked to the Bluetooth in my car, so I always catch up with friends in the car to and from work, rather than in the middle of the day, says Jennifer Lemongello, mother of two.
When faced with a long to-do list, leverage your time using the 80/20 rule, Turla says. "Decide which items will give you the most results and take the least amount of time." To be even more organized, Trulia suggests splitting this into two to-do lists: one for what should be done that day and the other for what can be done later in the week or farther down the road.
Limit the length of your meetings to one hour, says Nicole Valinoti, mother of two. "Gather as many people in the meeting as necessary to get the project done, even if they don’t have an established role yet," she says. "That way, if they do end up being needed, you don’t have to waste time bringing them up to speed."
Lunch breaks are key for rejuvenating the mind, says Vaccarro. If you can, she suggests getting out of the office and not eating at your desk to increase productivity for the afternoon. "Once a week, I use my lunch break to get my food shopping done," says Joanne Jaskot, mother of three. "I store what needs to be kept cold in the office fridge."
For a quick message to a colleague that doesn’t require a phone call, a subject-only e-mail message will do, says Vaccarro. Including the acronym, "EOM", short for end-of-message, at the end of the subject line lets the recipient know that they don’t have to waste time opening the e-mail, she says.
Resist the urge to instantly respond to e-mails (unless it is an emergency). Answering instantly can give the sender the sense that you are always available. Instead, set aside a designated amount of time throughout the day to respond to e-mail. "My e-mails are set up to automatically go into separate folders. That way I can tell instantly if it is a personal message, or if it is something that can wait," says Valinoti.
Declutter your workspace by only keeping what’s needed and current on top of your desk. If files need to be kept for record keeping but aren’t needed for regular reference, don’t keep them within arm’s reach. Instead, Vaccarro suggests creating an "arc-like command center" within reach of your computer to access what you need on a daily or regular basis.
Before you head out for the night, take those last 15 minutes to review your to-do list for the following day. "Those 15 minutes you set aside prepare you for eight hours of productivity," says Vaccaro.