Magazine article Black Enterprise

Overtime No More: 15 Ways to Be More Productive and Avoid Working Long Hours

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Overtime No More: 15 Ways to Be More Productive and Avoid Working Long Hours

Article excerpt

For many, the five-day, 40-hour work week is a distant memory. More individuals are putting in 10 or more hours a day at the office than ever before. In fact, in a recent survey of 141 workers conducted by Steelcase Inc., more than half of those polled said they work over 40 hours a week. A third said they take work home at least one night a week.

But work need not dominate your life. One way to avoid long hours in the office is to prioritize your time and redefine your workplace parameters. This must start with controlling interruptions and badger-proofing your office.

It might mean a funny but tactful sign on your office door that says you're extremely busy, or giving chatty callers a time limit. "There is nothing wrong with letting co-workers know you want to spend your time in the office working, but be cordial. You have to recognize the line of courtesy and not cross it," says management consultant Michael V. Wilkins Sr., Ph.D., president of Wilkins & Associates in Frankfort, Illinois.

Below are 15 ways to make your workdays shorter and more productive:

* Limit phone calls. When under the gun, accept only important calls. Allow your assistant (if you have one) to field the others, but do return missed calls within 24 hours.

* Call at choice times of the day. Initiate phone calls just before lunch, or near the close of the day when the other party is more likely to keep the conversation brief.

* Don't open junk mail If possible, allow your assistant to screen your mail, separating the wheat from the chaff. Handle a piece of paper only once and act on it immediately. Don't move it from one pile to another.

* Make an outline. Devise and follow an agenda. When a telephone conversation or meeting digresses, bring it back around-promising to discuss the other issues later.

* Remove extra chairs from your office. …

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