How to achieve more in less time

Become more efficient by following a few simple guidelines.

A senior colleague is asking for that report you promised. The phone is ringing. Your email inbox is filling up fast. Plus an urgent meeting’s just been scheduled – and you have to be there in five minutes. In a few years’ time, this could be your life at Barclays. You’ll be busy (which is why there’ll never be a dull moment). So you’ll need to become a master of efficiency. Here’s how.

Have a plan

Like they say, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Every day many different things will inevitably compete for your attention. Stay focused with a written ‘to-do’ list, a sensible estimate of how long things are likely to take and a clear end-goal in mind.

Get your priorities right

Those vital tasks that just have to be done today? Put them at the top of your list. If several big priorities conflict, figure out which is most urgent and tackle it first. Our most productive people differentiate between ‘important’ and ‘less important’ tasks and allocate enough time and effort to each.

Don’t get distracted

You meant to devote your morning to deciding which graphs, models and charts would make complex information easier for a client to understand. Instead you spent the time coming up with ideas for a team night out. Now the deadline’s looming and your stress levels are soaring. Worse, you risk delivering work that’s half-baked and doesn’t show what you’re capable of. Willpower is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. And once you’ve put the final touches to the important stuff, you can relax and enjoy that night out all the more.

Switch off social media

Social media = major time suck. Ten minutes checking updates and messaging friends can easily turn into an hour. So when you need to buckle down and get something done, switch off your phone. That cat video will still be there when you switch back on.

Track your time to understand how you spend it

Time management isn’t easy. If you don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything, then consider using an online time tracking tool to help you figure out exactly how much time you spend on different tasks. There are plenty to choose from, like Toggl, Hours and Everhour, so explore the options and find one that might suit you.