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10 Small Things You Can Do To Save Time In the Office

10 Small Things You Can Do To Save Time In the Office

Are you looking to save time in the office without having to do a complete overhaul of your schedule or calendar?

Here are 10 things you can do to shave minutes from your regular work routine:

Create a document template.

Check your schedule and emails from the last month for hints on what documents you most frequently use, then create a set of templates for these items. Starter ideas include: email queries and confirmations, proposals, contact forms, contracts, agendas, presentation decks, agendas, and financial reports.

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Set up folders and filters in your email inbox.

Automate the email sorting process by setting up different folders and filters in your email program. You could have your emails filtered by people (clients, supervisors, coworkers, and vendors), work projects (administrative tasks, in-house work, client work, and research), or email subscriptions, and then appropriately sent to the correct folder.

Prepare mini agendas for informal meetings.

Make the most of your informal meetings with supervisors or colleagues with a mini agenda. This doesn’t have to be a formal document, simply list out the different items, tasks, questions, and concerns you want to discuss before your meeting. Not only will you have a handy guide for your meetings, but you’ll also have a record of projects, tasks and items discussed.

Give up folder tabs.

Tired of wasting your time fiddling with all those little plastic tabs that come with hanging folders? Give up those teeny tabs and simply label manila folders themselves. Make it easier for you to identify files at a glance by using different color manila folders and/or hanging files. For example, you might use green folders for financial documents, red folders for current projects and so on.

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Save yourself a few clicks.

Are you making the most out of your work devices? Take a moment to set up the speed dial function on your work or cell phone for frequently dialed numbers and set up bookmarks on your internet browser or use a bookmark service for regularly visited sites. Likewise, if you regularly use a computer application or program, learn some keyboard shortcuts to help you save time as you work.

Make a process or task checklist.

Streamline routine processes or tasks by creating a checklist of must-do items. This can be particularly helpful for items you do every other month or so, such as running reports, backing up files or updating items on a website or server. Create detailed notes and instructions on the different tasks you need to complete for your project.

Keep cleaning supplies within reach.

Stop wasting your time climbing over all those office supplies in the back room just to get a dust cloth. Carve out a space in a nearby desk drawer, cabinet or shelf and stock it with office cleaning supplies. Mix and match any of the following and of course feel free to add in your supplies as needed: dust cloth, duster, lint roller, computer screen wipes and cleaner, disinfectant wipes and/or gel, a roll of paper towels, and window cleaner.

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Pre-schedule online lunch orders.

Do you regularly order lunch at work? Some restaurants and cafes have online ordering systems that allow you to place and schedule meal orders anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks in advance. Check your favorite lunch spots to see if they offer this service and save yourself the hassle of placing daily orders.

Set a timer.

Keep work meetings on track by setting and following a timer. You’ll know exactly how much time you’ve spent working and how much time you have left available to you in each of your meetings. You might also want to consider setting a timer for different tasks while you work to better track your own time.

Store emergency materials in a drawer.

Be prepared for emergencies at a moment’s notice. Clear out space in a nearby desk drawer and pull together a little kit of emergency materials including, but not limited to: a flashlight, glow stick, small first aid kit, backup medication, umbrella, small radio, spare batteries, energy or granola bars, and bottles of water.

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What small action will you try out to save yourself a couple of minutes at work? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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