Are you sick of being the disorganized co-worker who's always in a frenzy, working in a desk of clutter, constantly asking for deadline extensions, and generally speaking, seemingly chaotic all of the time? You may think you're just inherently disorganized for life, but you'd be wrong. It's possible to change your ways, simply by altering the way you manage your time.
1. Don't overbook.
Review your meeting schedule and to-do list, and determine if you'll physically be able to accomplish everything you set out to achieve. That way you'll be able to determine if your agenda is realistic. For example, if your to-do list for the day has four key tasks that you know are going to take about an hour each, but you have meetings scheduled for more than half of the work day, chances are you're not going to get those four tasks done, so you're setting yourself up to fail. Don't put more on your to-do list than you can handle.
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2. Write your to-do list at the end of the day.
Rather than wasting time in the morning listing out what you need to accomplish for the day, write your to-do list the night before. That way, you can come into work in the morning and get started right away.
3. Prioritize your tasks.
Determine which projects demand your attention first. By organizing each task by level of urgency, you won't be wasting time on projects that can take more time to complete.
4. Digitize your life.
Use apps and tools that are designed to make your life easier and more productive. Manilla.com helps you simply and organize your daily life by allowing you to manage all of your bills, finances, daily deals, travel programs, subscriptions, and more in one secure dashboard with one-password access. Evernote helps you remember and act upon ideas and projects. Toggl Online Timer actually tracks your computer's activity, so you can see how productive you were that day and where you wasted time.
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5. If it takes less than five minutes, just do it.
Sending an email, making a copy of something, scheduling a call -- what do these things have in common? They take about a minute to do, and yet somehow tasks this small are often the last to be completed. If a simple task takes no time at all, just do it right away. Doing so will leave more time for bigger, more important tasks.
6. Schedule time for answering email.
Especially if you work in a corporate environment, answering email can take up a large portion of your work day, and it can slow down your efficiency when it comes to completing actual projects. Designate a few periods of time throughout the day specifically for answering email. That way, you won't be distracted when you're in the middle of something else.
7. Overestimate for everything.
When you're writing out your to-do list, always overestimate how much time it will take you to complete a task. People often like to underestimate so they can fit more in during the day, but what ends up happening is a task will take longer than expected and then they won't accomplish everything on the list. Underestimating can cause you to feel overwhelmed and fall behind on work.
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8. Don't say yes to everything.
Avoid feeling guilty about declining invites to social events. Pick and choose the ones you want to go to, but forgo the ones that will take up more time than they're worth. You don't have to attend every social engagement, especially if it means sacrificing time with family and friends.
9. Admit when you need help.
Learn to delegate whenever possible, wherever possible. When your colleagues and employees offer their help, accept it!
10. Get rid of clutter.
Whether you work at a corporate office or in the comfort of your own home, keep your workspace neat and organized to avoid feeling overwhelmed by clutter and chaos. Having less stuff around you at all times will keep you from getting distracted, and it will ultimately make you more productive.
Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of The Manilla Folder at Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that helps consumers simplify and organize all of their bills and household accounts in one place online or via the 4+ star customer-rated mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, Redbook, The Jane Dough and other sites. For more tools that improve personal productivity, visit Manilla.com.