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Do you spend your workday in a frenzy of activity and yet find that you still haven’t completed most (if not all) of your required tasks for the day? Has your life gone from working for the weekend to working during the weekend? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, having one’s work spill over to the weekends is practically the new normal. American car rental company Enterprise Rent-A-Car conducted a survey of 1,000 individuals and found that approximately 70 percent worked at least one weekend a month, with nearly two-thirds saying that it was expected of them by their employers.
Your work can already be demanding as it is, and the last thing you need is for it to consume the time you allot for yourself. Having a healthy work-life balance is important to your physical and mental wellbeing, and so becomes something you should strive to achieve in your career. If you’re one of the people who can no longer distinguish me-time from work time, then these time management tips are for you. Use them to stay focused and collected while ensuring that you are always at your best capacity at work. Here’s what you need to do…
…during the weekday
Write down your tasks for the day on a Post-It note. Type them in your mobile, or use an app—whatever medium you prefer, the important thing is to pick the one that works for you. By keeping a to-do list or time management worksheet, you ensure that all the work that needs to be done are all in one place, so you don’t forget anything. Use a to-do list effectively, and you can become more productive and energized at work.
Sometimes at work, everything can seem like Priority Number 1. In such cases, ranking tasks can be easier said than done. Looking at what goes into your workday, consider where your activities fit into these categories.
• Important and highly immediate
• Important but less immediate
• Immediate but less important
• Not immediate and not important
Important and immediate tasks need to be done right away because they will have serious repercussions if not completed by the end of the day - this is a prioritizing time management. Do important but less immediate tasks next, keeping in mind when they are required to be finished so you can schedule parts of the work for some other time. Urgent tasks that are not so important can be completed later in the day. Meanwhile, tasks that are not urgent and not essential should be consulted with your boss to reassess their value.
Even when you have your to-do list ranked according to priority, it can be tempting to just dive into your work with no clear idea about how to get things done. When you don’t use planning and time management, you may find yourself jumping from one thing to the next without really completing anything. Avoid this chaos by taking a mental note the time and effort that each work requires. And make sure to refer to your list from time to time to keep yourself on track. Get into the habit of setting time limits for each task. Likewise, plan a break in the day to catch up with colleagues and get your mind off the job for a while so that you’re not “always on.”
Do you keep getting interrupted at work? Is it a gossipy colleague? A micro-managing boss? Or are the interruptions self-induced? It may take some effort, but you need to eliminate all distractions to maximize your time. Ask to be excused from colleagues when they start to gossip. Supply your supervisor with frequent updates to keep him/her off your back. Shut the door, turn off your phone, and stop wasting time.
…over the weekend
Just as you would need to keep a to-do list from Monday to Friday, it can help to plot out your Saturdays and Sundays as well. Decide during the week the activities you want to enjoy come weekend. Jot everything down, so you have an itinerary well in advance. This doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous, but the main thing is you know what you want to get out of your rest days.
While work is your priority during the work week, come the weekend, all your thoughts and energies should be focused on the things you value besides your job. While you’re at it, resist the urge to check your work-related email or messages. This is a great way to keep your work and personal life separate. Should you be unable to fight these urges, you could very well find yourself going back into work mode and consuming your supposed time for yourself on things that—more often than not—can wait until the next workday to get done.
Move your body and get your blood pumping over the weekend. Especially if you’re stationary most of the time at work, getting active on your rest days can release some if not most of the physical stress that builds up in your body. Yoga is a great activity to benefit your mental and physical wellbeing, but any activity that gets your body moving can make you feel great and give you excellent health benefits.
Remember that your weekends are your time to relax, unwind and recharge for the next work week, so don’t feel guilty about spending time for yourself. If you must, convince yourself that it’s okay to relax. When work starts creeping into your weekend, learn to say no. Family, friends, hobbies, personal health, etc.—there are other areas in your life require your undivided attention. Make sure you give them the time of day they deserve.
Though it may seem impossible, you can be in control of your time and accomplish what you want to achieve both at work and off it.