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Giving you more hours in the day to focus on what’s really important to you.

We all complain about being busy and overstretched, and mobile devices have given rise to an ‘always on’ mentality that makes the modern office an incredibly demanding – and moveable – place.

You might have a number of high-tech productivity tools at your disposal in order to help you plan your time and manage your priorities, but are you really leveraging this technology to meet the challenges of the 21st-century workplace?

Productivity thought leader, speaker and trainer Dermot Crowley works with leaders, executives and professionals in leading Australian organisations to boost productivity. He believes that while technology has contributed to our productivity challenges over the past decade, not everyone has learnt to use it in a smart way.

Here are three ways you can work more productively and manage your workload, according to Crowley.

1. Make time in your schedule

You feel like your job has become a circle of endless meetings and emails, with no time left for really meaningful work. It’s important to quickly understand that you will never find time for the things you really want to do unless you make time in your schedule, says Crowley.

“You need to proactively schedule time for the important stuff, and then protect it fiercely. Protect it from the other people that want to steal your time away, and also from yourself, as it is easy to procrastinate over the more complex work that contributes to your outcomes.”

While meetings and emails are a critical way of getting stuff done, your ability to deliver in your role requires more.

2. Organise your inputs

Inputs present a number of challenges for the modern worker. You’re probably bombarded with different inputs every day, ranging from emails and phone calls to office interruptions.

“Where a few years ago 100 emails per day was a lot, now 300 per day is common,” explains Crowley. “The way people manage these inputs is problematic.

Many of us have hundreds (if not thousands) of emails piled up in our inbox. We desperately try to stay on top of the pile, marking emails unread or flagging the emails that need our attention. But this just causes stress, reactivity and missed deadlines.”

Instead of procrastinating, schedule your actions into your calendar or task list rather than keeping them highlighted in your inbox – that way you’re actively prioritising your workload, says Crowley.

Try and be decisive when processing your emails or getting back to phone call messages – delete what you don’t need, file the things you are finished with and delegate anything that is not a good use of your time.

3. Invest some time in personal planning

“Sometimes we need to stop doing, and take some time to plan and prioritise,” says Crowley.

Have a weekly planning routine in place to chart the progress you have made and record the action points that arose from the previous five days, and spend time anticipating the opportunities and obstacles that might be coming up. Only then are you in a good position to realign your priorities with what you are trying to achieve.

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