Working long hours is not fun for everyone. But all of us, sooner or later, end up doing that. Either it may be a deadline that is really important, or it may be a world getting destroyed without you coding away in the office, an eventuality for any working professional. The only exceptions to this is if you are stuck in a boring job or when you simply do not care - both being bad signs reflecting your approach to life.
While work is all important, putting in the long hours at office is not considered “smart work”. It may also call into question your productivity, or getting something done within the expected time with the expected work. So, how can you ensure you put in the required work, but maintain a healthy level of productivity?
1. Plan your work day and your work week
Planning is not just the laundry list of things. Planning should include the tasks, expected start/end dates along with the expected hours that a task requires. Going back to the plan, tracking it on a regular basis and entering the actual effort required for a task provides you a really complete view of how well the plan worked, what activities you are good at, and what are the things that you may need to improve upon. More importantly, it will also show you how productive you are and whether the productivity curve gets better over time.
2. Stick to the plan
When you are in office all the time, it is easy to stray into time-waster territory. It may be as simple as visiting cafeteria every hour or whiling away time on internet reading posts/articles like these. Be strict about work times, stick to the work allocated by you at the beginning of the day or week and relegate all other activities to beyond work hours or a stipulated ‘away time’ in the office. It is important to seggregate and recognize work activities and other activities, even while you stay at office.
3. Don’t fill the gaps
Gaps between two strenous activities are likely to be wasted if you are not careful. For example, the gap between a sales planning meeting from 10:00 to 11:00, and a status meeting from 11:30 can be either used to complete a part of the day’s work or chatting about how politics today is going to rats. The fillers look harmless enough at first, but tend to gobble up more and more time without adding to your productivity.
4. Don’t forget to socialise
Your co-workers are good too, they may even have some excellent tips up their sleeve. Set aside some time to mingle in, and see whether there are any productivity enhancers that you don’t know of.