Working 9 to 5 and don't have enough hours in the day to get it all done? Use these 5 rules to maximise your time and productivity to end your week on a high.
If you consistently find yourself with piles of work still on your desk by 5pm on a Friday evening, you probably haven’t tried my 5 rules to maximise your time and productivity.
There’s a huge difference between being busy and being productive! This is a lesson I learned a long time ago, when I found myself feeling overwhelmed trying to cram all I had to do over the working week. Not to mention the countless times I would actually take work home to try and get ahead of the looming deadlines and expectations.
But those days are long gone!
At the time of writing this post, I’m still working a full time 9 to 5, alongside building my business, raising a family and trying to keep it sexy for my husband. lol! I’ll admit, in the begging I found it quite hard to juggle it all. That was until I decided being busy was not the daily experience I wanted to keep creating. (It was exhausting and never felt like I was making progress.) What I need was a system to maximise my time and productivity – I needed some clear rules about how I would manage my 9-5 job.
working 9 to 5: 5 Rules to maximise your time & productivity
The system I created to manage the workload of the ‘job that pays the bills’, whilst working my blogging side-hustle, formed the foundation of the 5 rules I started to implement below.
Once I got into the routine of working within these rules, my stress levels reduced, I started enjoying my work, I made progress within my field and I never bought home a document from the office ever again!
In a nut shell, my 5 rules maximised my time and productivity, enabled me to speed up my workflow, reduce distractions and enabled me to work smarter – not harder. Leaving me with more time to work on my blogging business and do the things I enjoyed.
Check out my 5 rules below and start using them to get the most out of your day!
Before you start being productive, you have to create the right system. The wrong system can either make or break your actual goal. To put my system in place for yourself, you will need:
- Plastic folders
- Plastic punched pockets
- x3 Letter trays
- Day to view diary
No matter what job or industry you’re in, you’re bound to have different categories for the various areas of your job responsibilities. (For example, my day job categories fall in to: Admin, Premises, Finance, HR, Health & Safety and Community.) On each plastic folder, label each one with the area of responsibility you have. (For my 9-5, I have 6 folders in total.)
After you set up your separate folders, organise all your paper work, documents and lists into the relevant category folder. If you find documents that you do not need – file them away or shred them. (The category folders are only for items you need to action!)
The last thing you need to do is prepare one more plastic folder called ‘This Week’. Then grab 5 of your plastic pockets and label each one with a day of the week – Monday – Friday. These plastic pockets live in your ‘This Week’ folder.
You now have all your tasks/documents you need to work on, organised by category in a folder – it’s now time to choose your priorities for the week!
- Look through your diary and see what meetings, commitments or deadlines you need to prepare for over the next two weeks. Retrieve any relevant documents that you need for these upcoming events. (They should be in your category folder!)
- If you haven’t got much deadlines coming up, still go through each category folder and decide the tasks you want to get done this week. Take out the documents relating to those tasks.
From the tasks/documents identified from your categories folders, diary and commitments, allocate 3 to 4 tasks to complete per day. But here’s the catch – only plan these 3 to 4 tasks for Monday – Thursday! (Friday is catch up day!)
- Decide which day of the week you are going to allocate each tasks and put the relevant document in the plastic pocket for that day of the week you aim to complete them.
- Put your Monday to Thursday tasks in to your ‘Today’ Folder’ on the top of your letter tray.
You now have a schedule of up to 4 key tasks to complete each day, enabling you to complete at least 16 key items from your to-do list each week!
As we did not allocate any tasks for Friday, use it as a catch up for any tasks that were not finished during the week.
No matter where you work – people will always try and steal your time! Whether that be trying to delegate their tasks to you. Asking you to help them. Or just wanting to share some office gossip. ALL OF IT TAKES YOUR TIME CURRENCY AWAY!
Most people use their dairy to write down their appointments – but they’re missing a trick!
Use your diary to write down any requests people may pass on to you.
- If items don’t have to be actioned straight away (non-urgent), you can plot file them into the relevant category folder to action next week.
- If responses are needed sooner, review the tasks you have set for the next 2 days and see if you can move one of your tasks along in order to fit in a colleagues/bosses request.
- Also, use your diary to jot down things that pop up in your head about things you need to do, so you don’t forget. This way you can make plans to action them using this system protocol.
It’s now time to be productive!
This is by far the most important rule to follow on a consistent basis – Monday – Thursday!
- When you arrive in the morning DO NOT look at you emails for the first 60 mins of your day. (It may also be a good idea to let colleagues know you will not be checking your emails first thing in the morning – if something is urgent – they should call you!)
- Take out the relevant day pocket from the ‘This Week’ folder and start working on the first task. (It’s a good idea to choose the task that you really don’t feel like doing, as completing it will give you momentum to continue to the other tasks!)
- After 60 minutes of working on the task, check your emails. But – only for a maximum of 20 minutes. Answer any emails that can be replied with one or two sentences. Once answered, remove them from your inbox. Anything that requires further thought or decisions, you can come back to later in the day.
- Once you have skimmed your emails, finish your first task or start work on the second task you planned for the day. Working for a 90 minute chunk.
- After 90 minutes, check your emails again for maximum of 30 minutes. If there are any non-urgent actions you have to do, write them down in your task reminder book and move the email into your relevant email deleted folder.
- Continue working through the tasks throughout the day, using your 90 minute chunks. At the end of the 90 minutes, spend 20 – 30 minutes going through and replying to your mails.
- You will have interruptions and other commitments that try and steal you time, but try to focus on the completion of the tasks by using Rule 4.
- 30 minutes before you are due to leave work – STOP WORKING! Review the tasks you have completed today. If any tasks are incomplete, add it to plastic folder for the next day.
Friday’s are slightly different!
Follow Rule 5 all day on Friday’s, however, an hour before you are due to leave work STOP WORKING!
Use this hour to plan for next week, by going through Rule 2 – 4. This way you will be able to return to work on Monday knowing exactly what your tasks and goals are for the coming week.
A note about meetings: When you are scheduling meetings do not allocate more than 90 minutes. (Experts say that meetings are best held in 45 minute chunks, as after that, people lose concentration!) Wherever possible try not to schedule any meetings on a Friday.
So, if you want more time to spend on your career advancement, take on projects you actually want to work on, enjoy what you are currently doing, or like me, come home after a full days work – feeling accomplished and ready to put in extra hours on your own business, use these 5 rules to maximise your time and productivity today.
Not every day will be perfectly productive; don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, refocus your energy and implement these rules to find the sweet spot that works for you. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done both in and out of the office.
Let me know if you have nay other tips in the comments below.