4 Steps that help me be more effective at work

Many years ago I once had a job where at the end of the work day I had no idea what I had accomplished.  Sure I "worked"; I sent out emails, fielded phone calls, and had various meetings with different people throughout each day.  But in general, I had a feeling where I looked back and couldn’t remember specifically what I had done from the beginning of the day to the end.

After a while that feeling began to weigh on me. I was feeling more unmotivated, depressed, and unsuccessful. Work was something I got up in the morning to go to, spent the day at a desk and then at some point I was staring at a performance review that said, “Good job, but certainly there is room for improvement.”

I was getting by but not enjoying myself.

I needed to change my approach where throughout the day I felt direction, not only for the specific work day, but for the week and beyond. I sought out some advice and here’s what I have done since then. It begins and ends with lists.

Create that day’s to do list.
I begin every morning with a simple breakdown of what I’m doing that day. This is a simple way to review what was pushed back from previous day and pare down what needs to get done that day.

Map out my day.
I schedule everything out, (even lunch!) to keep me committed to what I have to do that day. I either break it down hour by hour, or group things together over a few hours to work on depending on the meetings I have that day.

Prep for meetings scheduled that day.
Part of mapping out my day is that I make time to prep for meetings. I find this extremely important to make that time more efficient and effective.

Create action steps from each meeting.
For me the purpose of meetings is to have action steps to take from those meetings. I highlight what I need to do, review what others need to do that I have to either check on, or monitor. This will build out my list for the next day or week ahead.

These four simple steps have helped me become a more effective employee and one that is happier knowing I can cross things off my list and look back and see what I did that day.

Now my days are filled with a variety of work that have a lot of moving pieces, how I manage my time effectively will ultimately determine my success.

What time management tips do you use to help you throughout your work day? What hasn’t worked?