Chaos and a hectic pace seem to be par for the course in most anyone’s workday, and it can turn your workday upside down if you let it. However, with some careful planning, efficient scheduling and well-developed work habits, your workday can smoothly sail along.
Planning your workday actually starts the previous evening. Take a few moments before you leave work to jot down important meetings, phone calls that need to be made or returned, ideas or concerns that need to be discussed with your supervisors or co-workers, or other notes to yourself about projects you’re working on or clients you’re currently working with. That way, it’ll be right there for you to see the next morning, and it’ll make getting into the swing of things much easier.
You should stay on top of your both your desktop and electronic inboxes. Check e-mail when you arrive, and immediately sort each message into an appropriate folder. Even if you don’t have time to deal with the contents of a message or even read it fully, sort it for later action. Sort through and organize regular mail and correspondence as well, and organize into piles for later action if necessary. Make sure you come back to these at the end of the day and take any appropriate action or you can at that time. Try to make it a habit of responding promptly to all mail requesting a timely response. Check through these inboxes during the course of the workday as well.
Return or make your most urgent and important phone calls early in the day. Like you, most people are more likely to be at their desks during this time.
Get in tuned with your personal energy level and schedule. If you have more energy at the beginning of the day, tackle your toughest projects then. If your energy level dips after lunch, take care of filing, e-mailing or other general tasks at this time.
At the end of the day, return to your checklist and prepare for tomorrow. Review your checklist and cross off completed items. Move any pending items to tomorrow’s to-do list.
Utilize both an electronic and wall or desk calendar to keep track of deadlines, meetings, and appointments. If your day allows, try to work on those long-term projects a bit so that as their deadlines approach you won’t feel so pressured or rushed.
Most importantly, take a break. Don’t get into the habit of having your lunch at your desk or cutting your breaks short. A walk during your break and time away from your desk to recharge are probably the most important things you can do for yourself to recharge your battery, clear your mind and prepare to tackle the tasks at hand more productively and efficiently.