We’ve all been there. You feel like you’ve just spent hours working hard on a project, feeling like you’re ready to wrap up the day shortly. And then you look at the clock—it’s been two hours. With a few more still to go. Figuring out how to make time go by faster at work is truly an art, as days can easily become mundane, boring, and predictable. This is even more true for long-term employees. However, through implementing a few tricks, you can feel more energized during the day, which will make time fly by faster—and it might even improve your quantity and quality of work too!
- Reasons why time goes by slowly at work
- 10 ways to make time go by faster at work
- How to keep employees engaged with Fellow
Reasons why time goes by slowly at work
According to Gallup, only 15% of employees feel engaged at work. The remaining 85% experience boredom, procrastination, lack of purpose, and ultimately burnout. Part of why this occurs is because employees aren’t stimulated, they don’t have enough motivation, or they aren’t inspired by the work that they do.
While boredom at work isn’t always a bad thing, it is definitely a reason why an employee might spend all day looking at the clock. For example, if an employee doesn’t have enough work to do, they’ll become bored. And once an employee gets into a pattern of feeling bored at work, it’s hard to turn this behavior around. The more tired you feel, the less motivated you feel to get work done (and this turns into procrastination).
Employees can also become bored at work when they aren’t interested in the conversation at hand, which can happen when an employee is working in a role that isn’t geared to their skill set and interests.
Burnout occurs when an employee has had too much on their plate for an extended period of time. This might include being overworked in their job or from impacts from their personal lives that are exhausting them. When employees are burnt out, they lack the motivation to do work, frequently stress about new tasks, and feel tired all day long. All of these consequences of burnout make the day feel like it’s going on forever, and it will only continue to get worse with time if it is not mitigated appropriately with rest and de-stress time.
Procrastination is when you’re struggling to get something done because you’re waiting for there to be enough pressure to finally convince you to get the task done. For many people, they rely on the adrenaline of being close to the deadline to feel energized enough to get the task done. As work gets delayed, employees may spend their time working on other less important tasks or sitting around waiting for the feeling of pressure to kick in and start working. Until this happens, they feel like time is going by very slowly. Luckily, you can read more here on a few ways to overcome procrastination habits!
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10 ways to make time go by faster at work
- Time block your calendar
- Improve your time management skills
- Follow a routine
- Find a motivator
- Practice deep work
- Cultivate a learning mindset
- Tackle meaningful work first
- Move locations
- Avoid looking at the clock
- Set your devices on “do not disturb”
1Time block your calendar
The time-blocking method is an approach to calendar management where you can block multi-hour chunks out of your day for specific tasks. Many people find it practical to block off the first few hours in their morning for catching up on administrative tasks and industry news, for example. Others might choose to block the hour or two following a recurring meeting to work on big action items that are assigned during that call.
2Improve your time management skills
Regardless if you’re an individual contributor or a leader, you’ll be required to demonstrate strong time management skills. Some helpful techniques to do so include:
- Conducting work in small chunks to make it manageable and prevent burnout
- Classifying tasks based on importance and size to determine what you should do first
- Determining the tasks that take up the least time but have the most valuable impact and focusing on those
- Reaching out to your manager if you have any questions about prioritization or if you foresee a blocker coming up for your project
3Follow a routine
While some may find that following a routine can get boring over time, it can actually be a helpful way to make time go by faster at work. The predictability of a routine will help you know what you’ve done already and what’s still left to be done. In turn, this helps you avoid looking at the clock as you’ll already have a sense of where you’re at in the day.
For example, a morning routine might consist of waking up early to get more in before the kids get up, drinking a glass of water to feel refreshed right away, and then journaling or meditating to set a positive intention for the day ahead.
4Find a motivator
If you find that you have a lot of idle time during your day, you might consider finding an energy-inducing or inspiring activity that can keep your energy up while you’re on the clock. Listening to upbeat music, tuning into a new interesting podcast episode (such as the Supermanagers podcast), or practicing a few minutes of exercise can all help you. Not only will they help the day fly by faster, but they’ll also help boost your creativity!
5Practice deep work
Deep work is that time in the day when you’re intensely focused and highly productive. It’s hard to get into the deep work zone, but when you’re there, it’s super fruitful and time goes by a lot faster as your brain seems to tune the world out for a bit. There are a few ways to get more deep work time, such as:
- Training your brain to focus through small exercises
- Focusing on only one task at a time
- Limiting outside distractions (for example, your phone or the ring of your washing machine)
6Cultivate a learning mindset
Being curious about your day will help you stay engaged. Throughout the day, you might sit in on conversations with other departments, meet a customer face-to-face for the first time, or even read an interesting headline in the news! Rather than dismissing these opportunities, adopt a learning mindset that will make you curious to learn more about them. As you learn something new and feel inspired, you will feel more inclined to keep doing things that help you learn!
7Tackle meaningful work first
If you’re just finding it tough to battle through the afternoon slump, you can try rearranging your day so the most important work is done early. Then, if your morning is extra productive, you’ll have more flex time in the afternoon to spend on other tasks, or even take short breaks to keep your mind well rested. Getting big things off your to-do list early on in the day also helps you feel empowered and ready to tackle other things!
Staying in one spot can make you feel bored. The act of physically moving over to that new spot gets a bit more oxygen to your brain, which keeps you sharp and awake. And the new location will provide something new to look at, which can spark your creative side! Moving to a new location during the workday doesn’t mean you have to go from your house to a co-working hub. It could even mean going from one room to another or even sitting on the other side of the table so you have a fresh view.
9Avoid looking at the clock
Counting minutes is going to make each of those minutes feel excruciatingly long. Instead, opt to distract yourself with some music, a new task that you’ve been putting off, some light administrative work, or even some deep-focus work if you have enough time left in the day. To help you avoid looking at the clock, set a timer to go off for when you should be done with a task.
10Set your devices on “do not disturb”
Phones are one of the biggest distractions to getting a productive day in. For some teams, such as sales teams, the job is more reliant on using a mobile phone for answering client calls or doing work on the go. But when possible, try to keep your phone on “do not disturb” and set an automated response so that anyone who tries to contact you knows that you’ll be available at a set time. This is a great practice to tie into your deep focus time blocks!
How to keep employees engaged with Fellow
Fellow is a meeting management tool that helps teams stay connected and organized through:
- Collaborative meeting agendas. Fellow empowers teams to collaborate on agendas to foster accountability and productivity.
- Shared meeting notes. Fellow’s shared meeting notes enable teams to write what was discussed and decided right within a collaborative agenda. Plus, users can link their meeting notes to their calendar events, making it easier than ever to find your notes for all of your meetings.
- Automated reminders. Fellow’s automated reminders improve your workflow by enabling users to save time in their meetings by cancelling meetings without agendas, having pre-meeting reminders, and more!
- Action items. Fellow keeps the momentum after the meeting going by assigning action items to one or multiple assignees. Plus, users can plan and prioritize their to-do list in Fellow’s action items page!
- 500+ meeting agenda templates. Fellow has 500+ ready-to-use meeting agenda templates to help streamline meeting productivity!
- Feedback. Fellow enables teams to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance.
Fellow’s above features, plus many more, streamline meeting productivity and improve workflows to ensure that you’re engaged in meaningful work and that your day goes by faster and more efficiently!
It’s a masterful thing to make time go by faster at work, and it will be hard to do all the time. But the secret to having almost every day be a speedy one is to make sure that you’re engaged, interested, and genuinely enjoying what you’re doing! If there’s work on your plate that you’re struggling to do, and as a result, it’s making you count every minute until the end of the day, it might be worth a chat with your manager to see how you can get more joy and purpose out of those projects.