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When you’re short of time it’s important to make it count. Here are some straightforward tips on how to be as productive and efficient as possible.

As we become busier and busier in our working life it becomes increasingly important to learn the secret of doing more with less. When it comes to time, we need to focus our working hours and become as productive as possible. So how do you work smarter with the time you have available?

1. Set clear goals and prioritise your tasks accordingly

If you’re running a business then the chances are you’re suffering from more work than you can fit into a day. You can focus on using your time efficiently by setting clear goals for yourself and your business, and then using them to prioritise your day.

Measuring the importance of the tasks that need to be done against your overall goals will allow you to be certain that you’re spending your time where it can have the greatest impact. It will also allow you to avoid tasks that could fill your week without delivering any benefit to your business.

2. Create and proactively manage your to-do list

If you want to emulate the habits of highly productive and successful people then you will not just know what needs to be done, but will also have to work out when it’s going to happen.

To achieve your most productive self you need to manage a to do list proactively to ensure that you are focusing on the most important tasks and removing, parking or delegating those that are not a priority.

Once you’ve worked out what’s important, take it a step further by scheduling it into your diary. This will allow you to focus on what needs to be done and make sure you’ve set time aside to make it happen.

3. Focus on the task at hand

So you’ve decided what you’re going to work on, so how do you make sure you use your time as productively as possible? It’s all about creating and maintaining focus: and that means switching off any/all of your distractions.

It’s up to you to decide what constitutes a justified interruption and what is just a distraction. But you could consider diverting phone calls, silencing phone notifications, switching off email notifications on your computer and closing all programmes other than the ones you need for your task.

Alternatively you could consider downloading one of the new generation of time management apps to your computer. They can screen all the applications and notifications on your computer, and help you to avoid being distracted by something that doesn’t support your goals.

4. Overcome procrastination

Scheduling your tasks will help you to overcome procrastination, but if you suffer from the curse of putting things off then you’re going to need to take control of yourself and find some steps that will help you get on with doing what needs to be done.

Try breaking your work into smaller blocks of activity and setting yourself mini-deadlines that will keep you focused for short periods of time.

Productivity applications will allow you to define a period of time and exactly what you are going to achieve in it, and then notify you when that starts and ends. Keeping yourself on task will help to deter your natural tendency to get distracted and put it off until later.

5. Keep your brain fresh

Whether you’re juggling many jobs or focusing on one, having a well rested brain is going to make your efficiency sky rocket. It’s easy to reduce your down time, overload your day and suffer from lack of sleep when you feel your workload is piling up: but actually this is the opposite of the action that will help you to work more efficiently.

Make sure that you schedule in time for your brain to rest up and relax, and you’re going to find it much easier to maintain your focus and get your to-do list done.

6. Focus on the end goal

Whatever task you’re working on will benefit from a clear vision of what the end goal is that you are going to achieve. Don’t just set a timeline for when you expect to deliver a task, you can also be clear about what will be delivered and the positive benefits of achieving it. Then, when you find your mind wandering or if other tasks clamour for your attention, you can stay focused with a clear eye on the end goal.