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How to Master the Art of Efficient Working and Escape the Overtime Traps

As the deadline draws closer and the workload keeps piling up, it is not uncommon that many people think that working overtime is an absolute solution to ensure the targets are met within designated timeframe. However, is it true that working overtime is the only way to meet the overwhelming work demands? Of course, this might not be a big deal if the overtime is done once or twice in a while. But what if the overtime is done in a regular basis that it seems to be an endless cycle of traps?

In your career journey, occasional overtime might be needed in order to meet unreasonable targets and deadlines. But if you constantly find yourself staying in the office late into the night for days to finish your tasks, you should look inside yourself and ask: is there something wrong with the way I work?

Overtime can be a tell-tale sign that you have bad time management. Since you are unable to use your time in the most effective and efficient way, you are required to stay longer in the office after working hours. Due to the chaotic time management, it is not unusual that the work you are supposed to finish during normal working hours is slowly piling up so you have to work overtime to get it done.

Then what is the solution to escape from this overtime traps? Here are some tips you can practice right away to make the most of your time at the office:

1.  Make a priority list

One of the most effective ways to organise your working hours more efficiently and efficiently is to write a to-do list and sort them according to the priority. Set priorities ranging from the most urgent to the less ones. When you get to the office in the morning, the first thing you should do is to make note of what tasks you need to finish on that day, as well as completing the unfinished work yesterday. Arrange a clear and realistic to-do list so you do not feel overwhelmed.

2.  Don’t procrastinate

There are types of people who have a tendency to wait until the last minute to get their tasks done. However, for whatever reason, procrastinating is not a good habit. Avoid putting off work, even when it seems easy and you can finish it in no time. Even easy tasks can be overwhelming, if you are not able to manage your time well.

3.  Work smart, not hard

If you want to work more efficiently, you should learn to work smart, not just hard. For example, you can start making use the technology to help your menial and administrative tasks, such that you can focus more to deal with more significant strategic things. In addition, working quickly is not enough. More than that, you have to make sure that your work is done properly to deliver the expected results.

4.  Block out all distractions

Gadgets and the internet can be the greatest temptation that often makes you procrastinate. If you do not want to work overtime because the job is not done yet, then you should be able to block out all distractions that slow down your working pace. To be more productive, you must stay away from seemingly-trivial distraction such as checking social media or watching videos on YouTube. Sometimes, the desire to check Facebook or Instagram for 5 minutes can turn into 50 minutes without you knowing it.

5.  Learn to say ‘no’

Not only are internal temptations coming from within, the disruption from coworkers or even bosses sometimes also becomes the reason why tasks are not done. For example, your manager suddenly asks for your help to prepare for a meeting room while you are working on something much more urgent. At this point, you need to learn to say ‘no’ to focus more on your main task.

6.  Do not get used to multitasking

You might think that multitasking is a great way to get several things done at once. But this mindset is wrong. Conversely, multitasking is a bad habit because this makes you lose focus on your work. As your attention is divided when multitasking, this makes you unable to deliver satisfying results and sometimes you even have to redo it again.

7.  Do an self-evaluation

At the end of the day, make it a habit to evaluate what you have done in the office and how you used your time during the day. Compare the evaluation with the to-do list you created earlier, so you can review your own working efficiency.

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