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How did it get so late?

Do you consider yourself a workaholic? Yes? Then it is probably second nature for you to leave the office later than everyone else and continue working from home. You have probably turned down countless invitations from friends to go out, allowing work to take centre stage. The kids may recognise you as that familiar face which dashes here, there and everywhere. Your other half may spend more time on their own than is natural and you could be on the verge of committing bigamy due to being married to your work and partner! You complain that your job takes up too much time, which forces you to work long hours but is your job really to blame? Have you considered managing your time better? An effective time management system could ensure that your goals are achieved at a steady and organised pace, freeing up your spare time while preventing guilt, stress and tension.

If work has taken over your life, poor time management could be the cause and you are probably spending longer on tasks than necessary. Stop and look at your current situation, you could possibly free up time to enjoy with the family while lightening your load and boosting productivity. Pop the kettle on and prepare to become enlightened.

You need a silent partner. Every morning, allow yourself a good fifteen to twenty minutes to jot down the things that you need to do in your working day. Run through the morning and afternoon in your mind; imagine how smoothly you would like it to go. This will mean prioritising tasks so start with the most pressing and allow the simpler, less important ones to take their place towards the latter part of the day. As the minutes count down, you can unwind by tying up those last few bits and pieces then you can head off home, content and calm. If you like this idea, why not set up a ‘to do’ list for household chores? Look at times available throughout the week where you could slot in some gardening or pull out the sewing machine and make that pantomime costume for your little girl. All the things that you said would get done, could actually be completed! No more disappointed faces or looking at yourself in the mirror and feeling guilty. Planning your time ensures that you have plenty of contented, happy moments.

A task shared is a task halved. Imagine that you have a large presentation in a matter of weeks. You know this is going to be a big task but the longer you leave it, the bigger it becomes. Factor it into your day by working on one or two aspects of it, thus reducing its intensity and completing the project gradually. When a big job is broken down into manageable pieces, the mind can approach it from a fresh angle every single day and placing your full attention on smaller chunks, the presentation as a whole can be far better. When the mind is able to dip in and out of a project, you allow it the opportunity to mull over ideas in the background, resulting in unexpected flashes of inspiration. When the day arrives for the presentation, you will be pleasantly amazed at how much you were able to produce and your colleagues will praise you on the blood, sweat and tears they assume you must have excreted to create such impressive work.

Swap rigidity for adaptability. The last thing you want to do is dwell on things which you were unable to complete yesterday. When you start to beat yourself up, there is the risk of being catapulted right back to becoming a busy fool again. If something took longer to complete than anticipated and still looks as though it may require more time, factor it into the next day and even the one after that. Some projects may seem small until you actually start working on them.

Don’t bury yourself under a mountain of chores. Learn to say no to colleagues who dump extra work on you. You are only one person and trying to be kind could result in too many tasks and potentially, unfinished projects. When you bite off more than you can chew, people will start asking why things haven’t been done or complaining that they cannot finish their task until you have completed yours. When colleagues are working to tight time frames, you do not want to be the reason why they are falling behind. Carry on this way and you could end up making more enemies than friends. The only way to impress your superiors is to show them that you can cope and the one way to prove this, is to accept tasks which will enhance your projects rather than ruin them. If extra work means compromising on production, politely decline.

Make good use of every second. If you have a long commute to work, that zest and energy which you woke up with could start to dwindle when you sit for long periods on a hot train or bus. This stuffiness could cause fatigue to set in before you have even sat behind your desk. To keep that va va voom, use travelling time to map out your schedule for the day, work on a presentation, study a course or read. Do anything which keeps the mind alert. The last thing you want to do is function in a sleep-like trance for the next eight hours or so.

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