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Become more efficient without compromising quality work

Everyone wants a more manageable workday. Nowadays, this seems less and less likely as our days are filled with back-to-back meetings, quick-turn projects, and never-ending review periods. When you are in the middle of a chaotic day, week, or month, it may seem impossible to do more work in less time without compromising quality. But it is possible!

You need to create a healthy margin in your work to utilize your time better. What does it look like when you’re lacking margin? You’re working alone as the single point of success or failure, there’s always more work than you can do, you feel resentful or bored, or you’re just trying to get things done. Instead, you want time to think and collaborate (not just divide and conquer), room to creatively conceptualize, and the ability to do favors for people. You want to enjoy your work and have life balance.

So how do you free up time in your workday?

  1. Get a handle on project scope in real, digestible terms. Lay out the project timeline, rounds of review, and any other important pieces of the plan. Share this plan upfront with every person on the project. When you provide these clear expectations at the beginning, it sets everyone up for success. It can make the work more manageable when you know the timing and review periods because you know you can deliver on your end, so if anything gets derailed, it’s easier to adjust.
  2. Bake free time into your schedule. I love using the Pomodoro Timer which goes off every 25 minutes and then gives you a 5-minute break period. You can also opt for the occasional 15-minute break period if you’ve had a long stretch of meetings. This feature reminds me to get up and stretch or grab some water, which is especially important when you’ve been working on the same deck for 2 hours straight and haven’t stood up. I can feel my creativity dwindle the longer I go without a break. Some other great ideas to implement into your day are daily lunch walks, meditating, or adding in an afternoon workout for a boost during that 3pm slump.
  3. Work during the hours you’remost productive. This of course will depend on your team, but I know people who prefer to work in the early mornings or evenings because that’s when they can produce their best work. They’re online during the regular 9am—5pm hours but leave some projects during those outside hours. This can give you time to focus on a project without being interrupted by meetings, pings, urgent quick turns, etc. For example, I’m writing this blog post at 10pm! The world is quiet, there are no notifications going off, and I can really put 100% of my focus on this. What could take hours during a standard workday in between meetings can take a lot less time. Make sure to do this only if it works for you and you’re able to maintain balance between work and personal time. Don’t work 10-hour days and then work all evening!

With remote work being a new norm, it’s important to not blend your workday with your personal time. By creating boundaries and setting yourself up for productivity success, you’ll create higher quality work, enjoy your job even more, and face burnout less.                  

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