Today’s working environments are busy places and it’s not unusual to feel like you have too much to do and not enough time. This is certainly true in credit management departments, and you’re certainly not alone if you’re stretched for time. The problem with an ever-increasing workload is that it can be extremely de-motivating and stressful.
So what can be done? Overcoming the problem of being overworked means finding creative ways to increase productivity, enabling you to get more done in less time. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Find opportunities for automation
Do you find yourself writing the same letter again and again, or doing other monotonous tasks? Repetitive jobs are ideal for automation because computers are very good at doing the same thing over and over – and there’s likely to be software available to help you get the work done quickly.
In some cases, a repetitive task that could take you hours to complete can be done by a computer in a matter of seconds, giving you more time for other things and eliminating some dullness from your day.
2. Go digital
Paper files and documentation slow processes down – first you have to find the right file, then you have to make sure it’s up to date, then you have to put it away in the proper place. What’s more, they take up a lot of space and paper costs money.
Going digital means that the information you need should be available with just a few clicks of the mouse. Details are easy to share and update across the company and it also helps to increase transparency and track workflows.
Although you’ll probably never manage to completely go paperless, digitising as much as possible will help you to work more efficiently and accurately, and should help you save both time and money.
3. Be smarter about meetings
Take a close look at your schedule and consider your meetings carefully. Do you really have to go to all of them?
Research from America has shown that in the US, $37 billion (£26 billion) is wasted every year on unnecessary meetings. A glut of meetings is definitely a problem on this side of the Atlantic too, so if you can skip a meeting or delegate someone else to go in your place, you’ll be able to clear some space on your schedule.
If you can’t skip out on a meeting entirely, consider other options to prevent time wastage. Make sure there’s a set agenda beforehand – this will help to ensure everyone stays on topic. You could also try to arrange your part of the meeting to be first, so you can duck out when that segment of the conversation finishes.
For meetings held in other locations, see if you can arrange a video conference or telephone call instead – this will cut back on time wasted in transport and these types of meetings tend to be more succinct.
4. Make a to-do list
It seems that making a to-do list is one of those things people either love or loathe. But, most productivity experts agree that a to-do list is a valuable tool because it helps you to keep track of what you need to get done, set priorities and avoid distractions.
What’s more, crossing something off that list gives a great sense of accomplishment and provides a visualisation of progress. Be sure to hang on to your to-do lists, as they can be a good talking point for reviews, providing concrete evidence of what you have done throughout the year.
5. Take a break
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might seem like you need to push through the stress and keep going. But in many cases, it’s actually better to take a step back.
Remember that you’re legally entitled to breaks: they’re important for your health and wellbeing, and they can actually increase your productivity. So relax for a minute, go get a hot drink or some fresh air and come back to your desk with a clear mind.