Time flies, and you are exhausted. Everyone has twenty-four hours a day, but why does it seem like others are accomplishing more while dedicating less time and exerting less effort? What should you be doing?

The answer to this is easy: improve efficiency. Create a routine that drives optimal results while leaving you with enough time to spend for yourself. The key is to find a way to integrate your work and personal life.

  1. Set reasonable goals.

A well-known saying states that “success is a journey, not a destination.” While setting a goal is necessary, evaluating the processes to be done to achieve that is equally important.

Carefully assess the lead time and resources you have vis a vis what you will need. Set reasonable goals by striking a balance between what you want and what is achievable as of the moment. Create a road map that will track your progress too.

Knowing that your set goals are reasonable will improve focus and motivate you to work harder. You already have a picture of what the endpoint looks like, and you know how to get there.

  1. Tweak your time management practices.

Time management seems like a complex term, but it is really not. It is simply finding a way to organize your tasks to make the most out of your energy and time.

Being aware of how you work (what time of the day you are most productive), and what has to be done (pertaining to your workload) will help in planning your day. A strategy you can do is to group tasks with the same outcome to build momentum. Work on demanding tasks during times of the day when your energy level is high, and the tedious ones when your energy level is low.

Through clustering of tasks, you exhibit time management skills and improve your work efficiency. You can accomplish more and worry less.

  1. Ditch your digital devices.

The world has gone digital, so for the majority of our tasks—whether personal or work-related—we rely on our gadgets. Digital devices make things easier and faster, but it can also be distracting.

Take a break from your screen regularly. During meetings, jot down notes instead of typing them down. Occasionally disconnect from the Internet if you can work without it. Put your smartphone on silent.

Use digital devices to your advantage. Make sure they do not consume your working hours. At the end of the day, reward yourself with more screen time for leisure.

  1. Learn to say “no.”

As part of a group, there is often pressure to take on additional tasks and help others. While this may appear like a good sign of being a team player, doing so at the expense of your own work will backfire. Keep in mind that everyone has to do their part, including you.

If you already have too much on your plate, it is okay to say no. Work on your tasks and produce excellent output. If you can afford to extend a hand to others, go ahead. If you cannot, though, then it is perfectly fine to decline.

  1. Take breaks.

If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, stepping back might be the best move. There is no shame in choosing to take a break rather than pushing yourself to keep on working.

Forcing yourself is risking burnout. Step out of your work area to do something unrelated to your current task. Find something that will relax you. Listen to music, doodle on your notebook, or take a walk.

Do not look at it as time wasted. Take it as a necessary period to hit the restart button and boot up faster.

  1. Create a routine you love.

An energy-boosting routine looks different for everyone. It can be having a relaxing bath in the morning, or brewing coffee beans for a good cup of Joe before work. It can also be tapping into the mind-body connection. You can try starting your day with jogging, doing yoga, or biking. When you start your day right by being happy and clear-headed, you can focus more and produce better output.

  1. Let go of perfection.

Aiming for excellence is great; aiming for perfection, however, is counterproductive. It may create unnecessary stress and take more time for tasks to be completed.

Remember that reasonable goals were set with a feasible road map in mind. Curb the mind-set that things have to be done perfectly by being self-aware. Be gentle with yourself. Go through the process, progress little by little, and learn along the way. By letting go of perfectionism, you will be more efficient while being mentally healthy.

  1. Improve your environment.

It may sound trivial, but having a space conducive to working is essential to improving efficiency. Does your work station put you in a good mood?

If seeing your desk makes you anxious, then you might need to make changes. Do not underestimate the power of organized and inspiring surroundings. Create an environment that will allow your creative juices to flow and will pump you up to accomplish your goals.

  1. Use all your time.

Aside from work-related tasks, you also have personal things to do such as running errands and doing chores. Squeeze in a little more time to engage in learning activities like listening to a podcast or taking an online course. A few minutes to half an hour a day may seem short. Nonetheless, the accumulated time spent on such activities shows otherwise.

  1. Understand that busywork isn’t efficiency.

Life demands a lot from us. In between work and personal life, you might find yourself constantly moving. Being busy, however, does not mean being efficient.

Efficiency comes from accomplishing tasks and goals while giving the least effort and time. This way, you can take care of yourself while accomplishing. Divide your tasks, learn to prioritize, and allow yourself to breathe in between the responsibilities. Creating a sustainable routine and lifestyle ensures long-term efficiency.

Improving efficiency requires going through the process of setting realistic goals, managing your time, and developing healthy habits. Be more observant with yourself and your surroundings, and practice mindfulness. Then, take concrete steps from there.