These days, you have a lot to juggle and it’s harder than ever to manage your time effectively. From family commitments to personal hobbies, many of us occupy multiple roles even outside working hours. To give your all to these extra-curricular pursuits and responsibilities, it’s vital to ensure your work duties are confined to the working week itself.
Work, however, can easily spill over into leisure time. So, how can you structure a work week which maximizes your productivity? Implement our useful tips below, and you’ll never find yourself suffering through a painful weekend filled work deadlines again.
Make a timetable
You’ve probably heard the recommendation of blocking out a detailed schedule for your work week. However, too many of us scrawl only the most unmissable appointments in our diaries and leave it at that. This can leave us wasting time in each new block of the day deciding which task to get started on next.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time to get into the habit of making a timetable every Sunday night. Pull up Excel and colour-code your various working tasks and meetings for the coming week. Remember to block out some time for your leisure activities, too. Seeing that “Dinner and a movie out” is in store after a long workday can be just the visual cue you need to feel energised and power through your shift.
Be strict – with yourself and others
It’s inevitable that our working hours will become less predictable when big projects come around. However, if you’re finding yourself stuck in the office beyond your prescribed hours on a regular basis, then it’s time to make a change.
This might mean a change to your own personal schedule: maybe you draw out tasks unnecessarily for lack of focus, and need a structured timetable of the kind advised in the above. But it might also mean you need to review your contractual obligations. Are you working far beyond your agreed hours? If so, you’re within your rights to question your employer and to work out a schedule that works for you.
Get to know yourself and your working tics
There’s no hard-and-fast rule to creating an ideal working week, because (spoiler!) no two workers are the same. Though many people work better when they set “hard” boundaries for their working hours, others may work better – and more creatively – with a freer schedule.
The good news is that bosses are becoming more receptive to flexible working hours, so whether you’re a morning lark or feel more creative and alert in the evening, you can make your working hours work around you.
Be productive when you’ve planned to be
A well-structured timetable depends on you actually being productive when you say you’ll be productive. As every worker with the distraction of the internet or the smartphone in reach will know, however, that’s much easier said than done.
The key here – especially if you’re working from home – is accountability. Install a productivity app like Pomodoro or Forest on your smartphone, which you can set for an hour or two while you complete each work task.
Reflect on your priorities
Start with your work priorities. Place your largest and longest tasks at the beginning of the week so you won’t scramble to get dozens of things done at the end of the week – leading to weekend spill-over and stress.
However, remember to think beyond work. If not getting a report done means that you can go home on time to hang out with your family, don’t sweat it – it’s impossible to excel in all areas all the time. When push comes to shove, your time and effort needs to go to your highest priorities and the people you care for.
As a freelance writer, Allison lists productivity tools and an old-school wall planner as must-haves to keep track of her progress on work-related projects. To read more of Allison’s published work, see her Tumblr page.