Whether you’re a working mum coping with kids and a career, a caregiver juggling between the needs of a dependent and your work or an entrepreneur taking on the world, there is one resource that there is always a shortage of: time.

To make the most of the time you have each day, Cheryl Liew-Chng, a work-life trainer who wrote The 24-Hour Woman – a motivational book on how to find happiness and achieve vibrancy in your working and personal life – says you need to know what your main goals in life are, and focus on those instead of trying to have it all.

At work, one of the pressures many of us often face is having to put in longer hours – and Cheryl says it’s something we have to be very conscious of. “We must not think that working long hours is the new normal, or it will become our long-term reality and habit,” she says.

Here are her tips for managing your work day efficiently, so you can leave at a decent hour and have time for yourself and your family.

1. Set your goals and aspirations for the year ahead, and review them on a monthly basis. By doing this, you can align yourself with what brings you joy and fulfillment, and make decision-making easier.

2. With the big picture in mind, come up with monthly, weekly and daily actions to bring about that outcome. This should reflect your performance review measures or your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) at work.

3. Work on a 90-day plan for the bigger projects you handle – this is the optimum duration to focus on long-term goals; any longer and one tends to procrastinate or lose focus. Focus on your momentum to be more productive.

4. Write down 10 must-do tasks for each day that will help you achieve the outcome you desire at work. These tasks cannot be delegated so prioritise them and allocate your time accordingly. 

Minimise overtime by staying focused and not trying to multi-task; the latest brain studies show that you are less productive when you do. You’ll get far more done if you are relentless and single-minded with the task at hand.

However, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t complete those 10 tasks. It happens, and we are human. But you can definitely aim to build greater discipline at work.

5. Refrain from checking e-mails and text messages constantly. Have a set time each work day to review and respond to them, and then delete, forward or respond immediately. File e-mails that you don’t need to read so soon.

6. If you’re faced with competing tasks and deadlines, identify the ones that have greater impact, then negotiate with your boss to complete those first or negotiate for additional resources or reallocation of resources. Remember, work does not end – but you can focus on what brings the greatest outcome.

7. Set boundaries. Remove social distractions that steal your time and focus. Say no to idle chats, meetings and calls.

8. Inspire and empower your team and those around you, so that you don’t have to do other people’s work. Focus on the work that you should be doing in your own role, and at your level.

9. Be the real you at work. There should be no need for second-guessing, and don’t waste your time and energy trying to be someone else.

The 24-Hour Woman retails for S$24 and can be purchased at www.the24hourwomanbook.com, or at major bookstores starting this month.

This article was originally published in Simply Her March 2015.