Office efficiency is a key issue for any WAHM, who has multiple demands on her time and energy. How to make the best use of your time once you have the time and headspace to work? These 5 tips will help you work smarter--not harder--by increasing your productivity and efficiency once you are in the office:
1. Work in Batches
Batch similar tasks such as answering emails or making calls to maximize your time. Set a time limit, such as 30 minutes, in which you must get these tasks done. By working in batches and setting a time frame for these jobs, you keep yourself from endless replies and conversations that run far too long--both are major drains on your valuable time. Similarly, try to batch your errands outside the office geographically, so you are not driving from one end of town to the other. Strive to make your time outside the office as organized as your time at your desk.
2. Avoid Distractions
Once the emails are answered and the calls are made, turn off your phone and log out from email. Turn off Skype and Twitter, and log out of Facebook. If you have one, close the door to your workspace. This enforced privacy allows you the peace and quiet to concentrate on the task at hand.
3. Do the Worst Task First
Do you have a job you absolutely dread? Do it first and then check it off your list. There are few things more distracting than putting off something you dislike doing, and few things more satisfying than being done with it! If you are having a hard time getting started, set a timer for 15 minutes and just get started. This is a tried and true method for beating procrastination; often we are so overwhelmed by the big picture that we freeze up and can't begin. Setting a quick time limit forces you to dive in and tackle the task, even if you can't get it completely finished.
4. Set a Schedule, Include Breaks
It's so easy to forget to take a break or eat lunch when you finally get the chance to work, but a brief retreat or two throughout your day is essential to your productivity.
5. Make a To-Do List at the End of Your Day
As you are winding down your work time, begin a list with goals for the next day, or a simple to-do list. Leave it out where you see it first thing when you come into your workspace. This simple act helps to wind down your day and hopefully postpone your worries until the next. It's also a practical way to organize your next workday and keep you from worrying about where to start when you first sit down to work.
The WAHM knows that life happens--the babysitter doesn't show, the kids get sick or your computer crashes, and your workday takes a sudden left turn. By working smarter, you can increase your productivity in the office, and be better prepared for those other frustrating times!
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.