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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 31: Control Your Workday

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

Getting out of the office on time is tough when there’s always another task, project, or walk-by boss request to knock out before you leave. It’s easy to lose a day checking email, going to meetings, and putting out fires only to find that at 5 or 6 or 7 p.m., you haven’t started something critical.

Getting out of the office is as important to your state of mind — and productivity — as getting in is. But when you’re not clear and focused on your highest-priority to-do items, getting out the door on a regular workday with a sense of accomplishment is impossible. Rush hour — that last hour (or two or three) of the workday — becomes your stressful closing window to get to the stuff that, a mere eight hours earlier, you thought you had all day to accomplish.

This hack presents some strategies for reigning in your workday schedule and getting out the door on time with your most important tasks completed.

Identify and Cut Back on Extra Work

It doesn’t always feel like it — especially at the beginning of what seems like a long workday — but your time is limited. There are only 24 hours in the day, and you have a seemingly unlimited number of things you could work on. Here’s what to do:

Work on the most important tasks first.

Hack 26, “Set up a Morning Dash,” covered how to spend the first hour of your day accomplishing the most important task of the day. Beyond that, look for other areas of inefficiency in how you spend your ...

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