In the United States, 85.8 percent of men and 66.5 percent of women work over 40 hours a week. Odds are, you’re working 45 to 60 hours a week. Between your meetings, working on quarterly goals, and constant messages from staff, it feels like you never get the chance to leave work and enjoy your personal life. Does this scenario sound familiar?
If so, you’re in luck. We are going to take a look at three ways you can learn to manage your time better if you’re working too much. These tips can also apply to people working 40 hour weeks but want to get more done while they are in the office.
Let’s dive in!
Create a Manageable to-do List
First, let’s talk about creating your to-do list. We suggest that you create a list of realistic tasks that you hope to accomplish by the end of an eight hour day. If your list is not feasible in one day, you will quickly find yourself stuck in the cycle of overworking again.
Once you have all of the things you want to get done for the day written down, prioritize each item. You’ll want to measure tasks based on two variables — urgency and importance. Urgent and vital tasks belong at the top of your list, with less-crucial items shifted towards the bottom.
This tactic works because sometimes you’re going to overestimate and end up with more things on your list than you can accomplish in one day. Using this method, you can end your day after eight hours, and as long as your prioritized items are complete.
Your list should cover large tasks and sub-tasks if applicable As you complete your goals throughout the day, check them off your list for a quick boost of confidence and feeling of accomplishment.
Implement Distraction-Free Work Sessions
Now that you know what you need to do, it’s time to block out time to get your work done. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. When we created our business email account, we thought it would be a valuable tool for keeping work outside of our personal lives. Instead, it seems like we get a new email every hour.
The only distraction more prevalent than email is probably in your hand right now while reading — yes, your phone. You can check your email from your phone, but we are referring to consumable content. Globally, 3.7 billion people use mobile phones, which works out to over half the population. Due to the unlimited access to the internet on our phones, there are enough cat videos, texts from friends, and movie reviews to keep you occupied until the end of time. If you want to manage your time and stop overworking, you need to block out “work only” time every day. During this time, you’ll want to keep your phone off, laptop notifications off, and the door closed.
Use this as an opportunity to tackle the essential assignments on your list. When you can sit in a room without distractions and work, it’s astounding how much you can get done in just eight hours a day.
Learn to say, “No.”
Another huge problem that many of us face is that we can’t say no when we are asked to take on a new task. The term “go-getter” usually carries a positive annotation, but this mentally can stress you out and cause you to overwork.
There are going to be times when someone asks you for help, but you’re already up to your elbows in a project for the next three weeks. People with the “go-getter” mentality are eager to help others and learn more. The reality is you retain far less knowledge and don’t deliver your best work when you’re stressed.
Instead of saying yes to every request, carefully consider your extra time for the day before you offer to take on another responsibility.
Time management is a skill that takes practice to master. The key to getting better at planning your time and working less is awareness. Realistically assess how long it should take you to complete a task, versus the time it took you to get it done. Refine your to-do list and limit distractions when possible. Before long, you’ll get back to a manageable schedule with plenty of time for your home life.