At Brandware, we’re no strangers to heavy workloads, busy schedules, and ever-changing priorities. Having a demanding job can take a toll on your physical and mental health, but we believe it’s important to work smarter, not harder. Last week, we attended a PRSA seminar led by Jennifer Grizzle, and we learned some great tools for managing your work life. Here are some of our favorite takeaways that can help any professional reduce stress, organize workloads and improve efficiency.
One of the best ways to make a seemingly overwhelming schedule more manageable is to be more proactive with business planning. Begin each week with the end in mind. Instead of blindly working on things as they come up, lay out a set of goals to reach by the end of the week. By visualizing your objectives, it becomes easier to prioritize tasks and build your schedule around them. Planning ahead can also help you avoid overloading your schedule, which can add unnecessary stress and decrease productivity by 68% (as shown in a study by Cornerstone OnDemand).
It's also important to be realistic in your planning. Most tasks take around an hour – give or take. Some may take a little more time, others may take a little less. But, generally speaking, in an eight-hour day, you will likely be able to complete around eight tasks. Toss in meetings and calls and you can cut it down to around seven tasks. So, if you start your day with twenty items on your to-do list, you are setting yourself up for failure. It’s important to know how to reprioritize and plan in a practical and realistic way.
2. Know Your Team and Yourself
Everybody has different patterns, strengths and schedules in the workplace. So why would everyone work the same? Knowing yourself and your team can help you plan more effectively and work more efficiently. Instead of fighting your habits, use them to build a routine that works for you. For example, take note of what time of day you’re most productive and use that time to work on revenue-generating activities or other high-level tasks. When you know what matters most to you, it becomes clear when and how to delegate excess tasks to the right people. Delegating tasks that aren’t your core helps to avoid multi-tasking, which can actually hurt productivity.
There’s an old saying that being a good leader is doing only the things that only you can do and delegating the rest. It’s easy for people to think to themselves, “I can do that faster than someone else, so I will just get it done.” But, this not only keeps more tasks on your to-do list, but it can also hinder your team’s growth. So, part of knowing your team and yourself is delegation.
3. Practice Your Strengths
Knowing your strengths is good, but designating time to practice and hone your strengths is even better. Studies show that practicing your strengths daily increases short-term productivity by eight percent and makes engagement at work six times more likely, which can lead to long-term growth and more career opportunities. Maintaining a “growth-mindset” as opposed to a “fixed-mindset” in both your work life and home life can help you constantly find new opportunities for self-improvement. Seek opportunities in your daily routine to read something new, learn from a mistake, add a new skill or practice something that gives you energy.
4. Work/Life Balance
When it comes to productivity, a healthy balance between your work schedule and your personal life can make all the difference. According to a recent study, 57 percent of employees who said they were very stressed at work felt disengaged and less productive. Only 10 percent of low-stress employees reported feeling this way. Maintaining a work-life balance is a significant factor in keeping your stress levels manageable.
Achieving work-life balance does not mean you prioritize both equally. It is about understanding and accepting that the balance will shift and adjusting as necessary. It can be easy to allow the balance to lean toward work too often. In that case, it’s important to know when to say no. Say no to new business opportunities that are out of your scope or when you start seeing red flags. Set aside time to do things for yourself, including professional development and your favorite activities. Get up early and set goals for yourself. Start taking care of your health now and do what you need to do to find a balance that works for you.
5. Cultivating Relationships
Networking is key to success in any field, so treat it with due respect. In fact, treat it as a business activity. Block off time on your calendar to attend networking events, such as luncheons and conferences. Make the most of these events by doing research on the speakers and reaching out to them ahead of time – plant a seed and make an impression.
Also make time to cultivate existing business relationships. Simple things like sending birthday cards or handwritten notes and interacting with their social media posts keeps you and your business in the forefront of their minds.
As the world around us gets busier and busier, taking the time to optimize your work day can improve efficiency, productivity and overall happiness for you and your team. These small, intentional tasks can make a big difference and are well-worth the time investment.