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How to prioritise your workload

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It’s Friday, the clock’s about to strike 5pm and you’ve still got a tonne of work to do – does this sound familiar to you?

If so, then you need to take some steps to organise your workload so you are in charge of it and not the other way around. People who know how to prioritise get ahead, they hit their targets and rise above the rest effortlessly.

Want to be like them? Then read on for some simple tips to structure your daily tasks in order to help you excel as well as make sure you’re out of the office door on time.

1. To-do list

This may seem obvious, yet many people don’t bother writing down the important tasks they have to get through. Make sure your list is manageable, rather than endless and prioritise it from most important to least mapping out your key goals for the day.

So that it’s not too daunting, try to make your to-do list daily rather than weekly or monthly.

2. Review your workload regularly

Everyone has a task or two that they really don’t like doing, but if there’s something that always ends up at the bottom of the pile and never gets done – review it. Is there someone else you can delegate the work to, for example?

If not, then you’ll have to face the music and you know what they say – don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. You’ll only end up with a backlog and growing sense of impending doom.

3. Be realistic

When you’re putting together your list of things to do, be realistic amount the amount of time each task will take you. This is not about making your workload manageable on paper, it’s about making it manageable in real life.

4. Allow for interruptions

If you have urgent, pressing work to do then make sure you’re not distracted or interrupted during this time. However, do factor a break in your day to address any issues that arise, that way you don’t have to repeatedly lose your thread when you’re in the middle of doing work to sort something else out.

5. Structure your workload

One sure way to minimise productivity and output is by picking one thing up, putting it down and starting another. Try your hardest to deal with one thing at a time – you’ll also get an enormous sense of satisfaction when you tick them off your list and see the number of things you have to do dwindling away.

6. Don’t be bothered by e-mithers

If you’re used to getting more than 50 emails then that’s more than 50 times you’ll be interrupted over the course of the work day. Instead of checking your inbox every time a new message appears, allow some time to go through your emails and respond to the ones that need to be answered immediately. Switch of instant alerts if necessary, as this will only distract you from the task at hand.

7. Get stuck in

It’s easy to go down your to-do list and work on the easier, quicker tasks and while these may also be important, the meatier more difficult ones won’t just go away. Besides, once you pluck up the courage to tackle them and get them done, you’ll feel the weight lift off your shoulders.

8. Keep multitasking to a minimum

Think of multi-tasking not as doing more than one thing at the same time, but rather doing many different things over the course of one day. Starting a number of jobs simultaneously means you won’t be able to focus on any of them properly and the finished product will be watered down.

9. Practice saying ‘no’

The word can sound harsh, especially if a colleague is asking you for help or advice, for example. Instead, try being polite and firm with expressions to soften the blow such as: “I’m happy to help but…”, “I’m a little busy doing X right now, can I…”, or “Would you mind if…”

10. Get feedback

Get feedback from your boss or colleagues about the work that you’re doing – you may just find that what you think is a pressing priority, is not important to anyone else. Or that one of your least-favourite tasks floats your colleagues boat, meaning you can delegate it to them.