I’m sure we’ve all had days at the office when we had set tasks to complete but got interrupted due to “more important” tasks that came up. Since we can’t add more hours to the day we have to find ways to still get everything done. If you stay organized and consistent with the following tips, you’ll see a improvements.
Tip #1 Keep a list
Should be easy enough, right? Well, the list has to be updated as you go or it won’t help you. I find it best to keep a small notepad or even a small clipboard with scratch paper cut in half right on my desk at all times. Add your new task to the list and date it. As you complete each task, mark it off your list. Although we think we’ll remember all of the things we have to do, the distractions and interruptions throughout the day will side track us. (A designated notepad or clipboard will avoid the risk of losing your notes if you use just a random sheet of paper.) Cross off your items as they are completed.
Tip #2 Prioritize
As I mentioned, we can’t add more hours to the day so we have to figure out which of our tasks have to wait and which need to be done, NOW! Always date your notes to help you keep track. Anything with a closer due date should be done first however, if you have a task that will take you less than 15 minutes, you may consider doing it sooner to get it off your list, then you can dedicate full attention to the more time consuming tasks. Realistically, less important items will need to be pushed out if your priority item takes longer than you expected, and that’s ok. I’ve told plenty of co-workers and bosses that their request had to wait due to whatever was more important, with a brief explanation of course (again, if it takes less than 15 minutes – just get it out of the way!)
If your boss assigns you a task and hasn’t specified when it’s due – ask how soon they need it done.
Tip #3 Delegate
If you have other staff or co-workers – don’t be afraid to ask them for help! Some of the items you need to get done, don’t necessarily need to be done by you.
Have someone else answer the phones or if you have non-urgent calls to return, ask a coworker to call the person and let them know you got the message and will get back to them by tomorrow or later in the week.
Need to get stuff printed – have someone else do it. Basically, anything that you can have someone else do, let them!
(Side note: When working with customers, clients or patients, it is imperative to respond in a timely manner. You want to keep them happy and cared for. Always treat them in the same manner and with the same service you would want for yourself or your family. It is important to distinguish the calls that CAN wait; once in a while you have customers that are over-the-top and take up way more time than necessary. This never means ignoring people! Always reply in some way – within 24 hours – to let them know you received their message and will reply in full detail in no more than a week.)
Tip #4 MULTITASK
Once this is mastered, you will accomplish A LOT is a short period of time. I’ll have to write a separate, in-depth article about it but here’s some easy multitasking you can incorporate, right away.
While you’re on hold, read and respond to emails or correspondence, do some online research on a project, follow up on some billing, etc… These are precious moments that you cannot afford to waste considering you are limited on hours. That list will come in handy right about now!
Tip #5 Outsource
This can be very beneficial depending on how far behind you are or, the kind of assignments you are working on. Your ultimate goal is to be productive which means – making sure your efficient with time. If you are behind on things such as billing or returning client phone calls, this could be affecting the bottom-line of the business. If this is the case you might consider hiring temporary help but not all help is good help. If you have to spend additional time training someone, that’s counter productive and you might as well keep doing it yourself. Options such as administrative consultants or virtual assistants are the most efficient because they specialize in this and don’t require training.
Tip #6 Be Realistic
Sometimes, the amount of work you are responsible for is just too much for 1 person to handle. Truly evaluate the situation and hire additional staff. If the business is thriving this means it’s growing and adding team members will be the best way to successfully attend to the responsibilities that come with it.