1. Get to Work Early
If you are the person who gets to work right in the nick of time or you’re perpetually late, I’m guessing your life is anything but simple. I was perpetually late for both work and social gatherings. I wasn’t super late, but a few minutes never bothered me. It never occurred to me to try to change.
Until I heard my friend say, “she’s always late”; I didn’t realize I was, always late and I was annoyed that I carried that label. So I decided that I was going to change my ways and start being on time. It took me a while to develop this habit but after experiencing being on time or even being early, I couldn’t go back.
Why would I go back to glaring at the clock hoping the minutes would tick by slower and constantly practicing some excuse for my tardiness? Panicking when the gas light in my car would flick on when I was already so behind!!
The luxurious space created from being on time was addictive. And guess what? Removing all the drama over getting from point A to point B made my life so much simpler.
2. Create a Daily Routine
We’ve all heard that we do our best work at specific times of day and that there are good times for focused work, busy work, repetitive tasks, and checking emails and so on.
Set your daily routine to coincide with these rhythms in your day. If you know that the end of your workday gets crazy do your important work in the morning or early in your day. If you get multiple interruptions in the middle of the day but morning is quiet, do your focused work then.
Make this routine a habit by writing it down on paper, map out the times in your day for focused work, emails, lunch, meetings, and others tasks. Begin scheduling your day accordingly and make adjustments as you go.
Creating a routine will focus your day’s work, increase productivity, improve the quality of your work and simplify your work day.
3. Create and Use a Weekly Checklist
If you have repetitive tasks, create a weekly checklist so you breeze through them each day even through multiple interruptions. I like to have a daily task list that includes things as small as “check my physical mailbox” or “back up my digital files”. This safeguards me from missing critical information or forgetting to perform routine tasks when an unexpected interruption happens and my normal routine gets twisted out of shape.
List all your repetitive daily tasks first, then list weekly tasks that can be done on the same day each week and create a Monday through Friday Checklist (if that is your workweek). This also helps to space out the weekly tasks so you aren’t trying to get it all completed Friday after 4pm.
You can use a digital list or a paper checklist that you print out each week, which is my preference. I simply print a fresh checklist every Monday morning.
Any tasks that happens one time a month or fewer – I put these into my digital calendar with a reminder pop up. I don’t do this with daily or weekly tasks because then you go reminder “blind” where you start ignoring reminders because you have too many.
4. Remove Unnecessary Tasks
After creating routines and checklists, you will find some tasks can be done less often, delegated, or simply dropped.
Are you attending meetings that kill hours of your day and are a total waste of time? If they are optional, don’t attend, if they are not, check with your manager about whether it’s useful or not. Make sure you know what a meeting is about so you don’t go thinking it’s one topic and get there and find yourself stuck in something that does not apply to you.
Do you get copied on unnecessary emails that require your time to read and determine their uselessness to you? Usually the emailer who copies everyone is a repeat offender, simply ask them to remove you from emails unless they are truly applicable to you.
5. Batch Your Work
Don’t check your email every ten minutes and jump down that rabbit hole each time. Batch emails into one or two sessions per day.
Do this with other tasks that can be batched together in one lump, instead of jumping from one task to another which takes you additional time switching gears in your brain and in your environment.
6. Create Processes for Completing Tasks and Projects
Finally, create task lists or process documents for tasks and projects that require multiple steps. Especially if you on do these tasks and projects sporadically. If you have a quarterly project and you don’t have a written process, you waste time each quarter re-inventing the wheel. Simply follow your process or task list and get it kicked out.
I think these six tips for simplifying your work life will really have an impact on how smoothly and simply your work days and weeks will go. But remember if you don’t actually do the work up front you won’t reap the benefits later.