Spring is in the air—and that means longer days and warmer temperatures are just around the corner. If you want to enjoy them, however, you first have to get rid of time-consuming, unproductive habits that are keeping you at the office for longer than necessary. In other words, it’s time to spring clean your schedule.
Begin by listing all your non-essential activities—things you do that aren’t part of your job description. Honestly assess how much value—if any—each one adds to your professional performance. Then decide whether to keep it, allocate less time to it, or drop it altogether. Let’s say you spend 15 minutes each morning reading business leaders’ blogs. Is this something you need to do in order to perform well that day? Alternatively, is it something you can do before work, or even just once a week? If you evaluate each activity objectively, you’ll soon see that you can free up quite a bit of time.
Write down all your essential activities. These include your job-related duties and self-care activities. For example, if you’re a customer support manager, interfacing with clients, tracking your team’s progress, and providing support for your employees are all essential duties. A couple of short breaks, as well as a longer lunch break, are also important, since you need time to recharge.
Next, for every essential activity, ask yourself if there’s a more efficient way. Oftentimes replacing old software programs with new apps can save a lot of time. Note that even something as basic as interdepartmental communication can be streamlined by using communication and collaboration apps. Similarly, if you spend hours responding to client emails, it’s probably easier and faster to either pick up the phone or schedule an in-person meeting.
Finally, determine when you’re mentally at your strongest. In her Business Insider article titled “5 habits that will help you free up time for a side job,” Susie Moore advises identifying your peak hours and planning your most complicated or important tasks accordingly. Then you can do easier or more routine activities at times when your mental energy is lower.
Paradoxically, spring cleaning your schedule will require a time investment up front—but you’ll be amazed at how much time you have left over once you’re done. Then it’s up to you how you invest all that extra time!
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