Save Time, Be More Successful in Your Career

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I’m an advocate of “work smarter, not harder,” which I’m sure most of us have heard before. We hear this phrase, but sometimes it’s more difficult than we think to implement it in our careers and our lives.

I work full-time as an engineer, so time management is a must. Just like everyone else, I always seem to have too much to do with too little time. This is a very common problem, especially in our world of go, go, go.

I’m a big believer in a work/life balance. There are plenty of people that I work with who work 50 plus hours per week. They love their job and I love my job, but I sure as heck don’t want to live in my office.

So what can we do to save more time, while becoming more successful in the workplace?

Condense Your To-Do Lists

One of my biggest strengths, but also weakness has been my to-do lists. It’s a strength because I write them so I don’t forget to do things. But it’s a weakness because I take it a little overboard and write my to-dos everywhere.

I have a notebook where I write things, I write to-dos on my work computer as well as my personal computer. I even put to-dos on my cell phone.

That’s when I realized that I needed to change something. It got to the point where I wasn’t getting a lot of things done because I would forget about checking one of my to-do lists. I know a lot of people who have this problem. That is why it’s good to condense your to-dos into one list. Preferably a list that you can keep on or around you all the time. I like to use my phone since it’s on me all the time. I put my work and personal to-dos on that list, as well as random thoughts.

Make Use of Every Resource Available to You

I think one of the first things everybody should do when they start a job is make use of every resource that you can. Get to know the most successful people at your work. Make good friends with them so that they can give you tips and tricks as well as the help you need. Doing this will catapult your career so you’ll be ahead of the pack. It’s good to do this when you start your career, but it can be done anytime throughout your career as well.

This doesn’t just have to be restricted to career, but in anything you do. If you play an instrument, or run a business, get to know the successful people in those fields who will become your mentors. When you have good resources at your hands, you will save a lot of time when you need to retrieve information, and you will be the ‘go-to’ person for resources from those who ask, making your more knowledgeable and valuable.

Work on One Thing at a Time

Multitasking is a huge part of our lives, and we are constantly finding ways to do many things in the shortest amount time.

Sometimes this can actually hurt us as well as our productivity.

One of my habits is working on a task for a project, checking my email, going back to the task, and then starting another task without having finished the first. I realized that this was actually hurting my productivity because it took time for me to get back into the groove of my first task once I returned to it.

Instead, try starting a task and work on it for as long as possible. It’s especially efficient if you start with the most important task, or the task that needs to be done the soonest. Designate a block of time to it, where you will do that task and nothing else.

After that time is up, check your email, then either get back to the first task or start a new one if you need to. Designating time blocks will not only help you to stay focused so you can get more dome, it will also help you to stay organized and work more efficiently.

It’s Okay to Let Some Things Go

I know some people who feel like they need to get every single thing that they have written on their to-do lists. The list grows and grows, and it’s stressful to even look at the list. I’m guilty of this at times.

A lot of people I know work over-time quite a bit because their to-do list is huge. It seems like once an item is written down it has to be done no matter what. Whatever it takes. But one thing I’ve learned is that not everything on the list has to be done.

Crossing things off the list feels good when you actually do them, but you can get the same effect when you cross off things that either can be pushed off or eliminated all together.

By going through your list and crossing out less important things, you are opening up more time to the most important tasks. You’ll get done sooner, maybe even before the deadline, and impress your boss if you’re applying this to your career. You can use the extra time to get ahead and impress your co-workers and boss even more.

This can also be applied to many other aspects of your life. If you’re a mother raising children, for example, consider leaving a room or two alone for a couple of days without cleaning it. Maybe just pick up a few things: the rest can wait. By doing this, you are able to get more quality time with your family and maybe even save yourself a little stress. Leaving the less important things will teach you how to prioritize and realize what’s important and what can wait.

Even implementing one of these strategies goes a long way in whatever you do. It’ll save you time and hassle, and help you to get more done in less time. Hopefully we can implement all of these things and make them habits so that we can get more out of life.

About the author: Gabe Martinez writes about his life experiences and gives tools for self improvement at his blog ImprovemenTools. If you enjoyed this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed.

(Image by Flickr user Jayel Aheram)

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