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These days, "overworked" is the new normal, and learning to manage your time wisely is the key to getting ahead in today's 24/7 work environment.
The truth is, you won't ever have more hours in a day, or fewer tasks to fulfill, but if you master your time and use it efficiently, you'll feel less pressure and less overwhelmed.
Suzana Simic, manager of career services at Computer Systems Institute — a proprietary post-secondary education institution — provides these four key time-management tips to help you tackle the daily grind.
1. Make a realistic to-do list.
Create your list the night before so you'll have a head start the next day. "The day the tasks are due, check them off one by one until you’ve accomplished all your daily tasks," Simic says. "Setting goals and achieving them will boost your morale and get you fired up for the next task."
2. Turn off distractions.
There are so many possible diversions in today's technological world. But you need to ignore as many of them as possible so you can stay focused on completing your tasks.
"Put on your blinders," Simic says. "Eliminate or reduce all the things that you don't need to complete a complicated task. This means exiting out of emails, closing your office door and switching your phone to silent."
3. Learn to say no.
Simic says the key here is understanding what you can and can't do. If you volunteer or say yes to everything, you won't be able to complete your own list of responsibilities. In the end, this will make you less efficient with your time and tasks.
4. Find a timing system that works for you.
"Forget about the 'normal' way or 'typical' way things are done, and find out what way is best for your goals," Simic says.
For example, you'd be a lot more productive if you understood and followed your internal clock. This means knowing what the best time is for you to perform most efficiently at different tasks throughout the day.
For instance, some people are early birds while others work best as night owls. A lot of this comes down to your "clock genes"—internal timing that regulates when and how much you sleep—so why fight genetics? If you find you work better in the morning, tackle your most important tasks at the beginning of the day. If you're more effective as the clock nears midnight, reply to emails at the start of your day and use the later hours to complete tasks that require your full attention.
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