So you’re back from your holiday, thinking you have time to get back into work. But before you know it, the inbox starts piling up; projects go unfinished; an imminent deadline looms.

Thankfully, there are a few tried and tested techniques to help you wrangle a feral week back into a manageable shape.



Schedule

Keeping all your appointments, errands and important assignments in your head isn’t really workable. To manage your time effectively, it’s important to review your responsibilities.

Write them all down, then group them into tasks you need to do immediately, things that aren’t urgent, and jobs that can wait another day. Start working through your list from the top.

Loosely schedule blocks of time in which you could realistically complete your tasks. If this sounds ridiculously simple, that’s because it is – but it’s also essential to have a strategy for managing your time.



Monotask

The ability to multitask is a myth. Leaving every tab open, responding to instant messages, checking for mail and listening for the bing of an SMS inevitably leads to a shallow engagement with whatever you’re doing, thus ensuring you do a poor job slowly.

Concentrate on working through your to-do list one project at a time, giving your undivided attention to the task at hand. You’ll steadily plough through your workload with enough time to check for status updates once you’re done.



Be Ruthless with Your Time

There really are only so many hours in a day. Despite the best of intentions, you can’t attend every meeting or put your hand up for every project. Likewise, don’t feel compelled to chime in on every group email.

It’s important to understand your limitations ­– and the limitations of space and time in this particular universe – and get comfortable saying ‘no’. 



Go Easy on Yourself

As much as we might like to be sleepless, super-efficient robots, we can only drive the human organism so far. Whether you like it or not, concentration is a finite resource.

To work productively, it’s crucial to give yourself time to unwind. Every 90 minutes, go for a stroll, have something to eat, speak with your friends or simply stare into space. Factor this time into your schedule: it’s just as important, if not more so, than any deadline, no matter how pressing. 



Finish what you Started

Wherever possible, complete whatever task you’ve begun in one sitting. Instead of jumping between projects, or leaving a job halfway to come back to it later, ensure you only touch it once.

It takes mental energy and valuable time to get your head back into a task, so it’s more efficient to do it just once.