As many companies operate with reduced staff levels today, more is expected of each employee. As simplistic as it may sound, time-management techniques can really help. Here are tips on working smarter and avoiding productivity-sapping pitfalls:
Beware of the Multitasking Myth
Common wisdom dictates that the more you tackle at once, the more you accomplish. In many cases, this simply isn’t true. Juggling tasks simultaneously can diminish both the quantity and quality of your output. As the writer Publilius Syrus observed long ago: “To do two things at once is to do neither.”
Some endeavors simply require undivided attention. Fight the urge to multitask by reminding yourself that a brain that’s being pulled in multiple directions is more prone to error — which only creates more work (and headaches) for you in the long run.
Don’t Let Your E-mail Manage You
Do you react like Pavlov’s dog whenever you hear a tone announcing a new e-mail that has arrived? Many professionals have fallen into the habit of halting whatever they’re working on (and consequently losing their train of thought) to view and respond to e-mail messages the second they arrive. This hampers — not enhances — efficiency.
Recondition your reflexes. Unless you are awaiting an urgent message from your boss or project leader, check your inbox at set times each day rather than reading each individual message immediately. In addition, clean out your inbox several times a month. Trash unnecessary messages and file the important ones in an appropriate folder for easy retrieval.
Improve Your Timing
In a recent Accountemps survey, senior managers were asked to name the least productive time of day for employees. Their responses suggested that late afternoon is the most common time for workers to hit the proverbial wall. Thirty-seven percent of managers said 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the least productive period. Coming in second was 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as cited by 28 percent of respondents.
The takeaway lesson: Take advantage of the clock. Work on assignments requiring greater concentration when you’re focused and engaged. If you tend to slump right after lunch or you always get tired the last 45 minutes of the day, use these less-energetic periods to handle routine, lower-priority tasks such as organizing files.
Accountemps is the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.