How To Become Mega-Productive with your Work Time
PRODUCTIVITY. This has to be one of the most talked-about buzz-words of the 21st Century. There seems to always be a steady stream of great productivity strategies out there that people simply cannot get enough of.
However, what tips work for one person may not work for the next. So you mustn’t stress yourself out when you try some new productivity strategies that just don’t seem to work for you.
The best way forward is to create your own set of effective strategies that work for you and stick with them until they become second nature. Many people say that to form a new habit can take up to 2-weeks of constant practice.
You should focus on finding the productivity techniques that work best for you and repeat them until they stick. Always remember to allow yourself enough time for them to work effectively and become routine. Some techniques will stick, others, not so much.
If your workload is becoming a bit too much for you to cope with, take a look at some of these strategies we have picked up along the way that has worked well for us.
1: Make a morning to-do list
This isn’t a list to make in the morning when you start work. You will have far too many distractions happening to make this happen.
Instead, you need to make your morning to-do list last thing at the end of every day. Summarise what you want to achieve the next day and prioritise any jobs at the top of your list that you didn’t manage to get completed today.
Cross off each task on your list with a big red marker pen. This way you have a visual record of your achievements for the day that you can be proud of!
2: Cut your procrastination time
You know those horrible or very boring tasks that you know need doing, but you don’t want to do? Yes, those tasks that you end up talking yourself out of doing each day.
If you actually stopped procrastinating about them and used your time to get them done instead, you will be far more productive with your time.
When faced with one of these dreadful tasks, give yourself 3 seconds to cut your procrastination. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Count down from 3, 2, 1, open your eyes and do it!
This 3-second countdown will effectively cut your procrastination time to zero and will deliver you with more time to focus on other tasks on your list.
3: Do your hardest task first
You will have a few tasks to complete on your to-do list, but it is wise to schedule your most difficult tasks at the top. This is because you will be able to tackle these tasks when you are fresh and well-rested with plenty of energy and concentration.
Getting these more tricky tasks out of the way first will be much more effective than leaving them until the end of the day when your energy and concentration levels may be flagging.
4: Cut large tasks into bite-sized pieces
There can be nothing more exhausting or energy-draining that trying to tackle a huge task head-on. Biting off more than you can chew at once will simply result in your struggling to make any effective headway.
This can lead to you dithering around with little enthusiasm to get the task finished.
By dividing up the work into smaller bite-sized tasks you will be able to set yourself small and more achievable goals to finish step-by-step. Taking regular breaks after each small step will give you the energy to get through to the end of a gargantuan task.
5: Verbalise your problems
You know when you are working out a problem in your head and then something happens that breaks your train of thought? Yes? Annoying, isn’t it.
Working out difficult problems that require a lot of thought can be better beaten out if you get those thoughts out of your head. A good way to do this is to verbalise your thoughts.
You can do this by discussing the problem with someone else, maybe a work colleague for example. However, if you work alone you can record your conversation and play it back to yourself.
Verbalising a problem can work very well to fix something that needs a lot of thought. Try it the next time you need to chew something over.
6: The post-it notes trick
Using post-it notes, an ideas whiteboard or an online tool such as Trello to note down your thoughts and possible solutions is a great way to get things out of your head into something visible for you to focus on. This can serve as a memory aid.
You can do this with new tasks as they pop into your head or appear in emails. At the end of the day, you can look at all of your notes and rearrange them into a priority list that will form tomorrow’s to-do list. It is a great way to de-clutter your mind.
7: Ditch the guilt
Although this post is all about improving your productivity, you simply cannot be expected to perform at 100% efficiency all of the time.
Don’t expect perfection all of the time. Give yourself some wiggle-room. Shelve that guilty feeling because you failed to finish everything on today’s to-do list. We know you may feel a sense of failure to be hitting your goals, but no one is setting those goals for you.
You are setting your own goals, so if you physically and mentally cannot manage your present workload then this can lead to you worrying and fretting about it so much that it can affect your mood, your ability to recharge and re-energise and to sleep.
Look at what you have achieved today and be proud of your accomplishments. Shrug off those tasks still outstanding from your list and simply move them on to your list for tomorrow.
They will get done eventually – and done well as long as you allow yourself to switch off the guilt and recharge your batteries enough for the next day’s challenges.
8: Get adequate rest
Don’t neglect your downtime in favour of completing more work. Too many people will get up earlier in the morning so they can get an extra hour or two of work done before the rest of their work colleagues even arrive.
While you may feel good about how much work you can achieve by giving yourself more time, you will be losing it from somewhere else in your life. This usually means less sleep, rushed meal times or forgoing coffee breaks.
The problem with doing this is that when you return to your normal schedule, your productivity levels will fall. You will then feel compelled to keep cutting into your rest time to increase your productivity once again.
A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs will substitute sleep for work, but will quickly find themselves burning out and being unable to function well.
If you need 8 hours of solid sleep, don’t try to get by on just 6. What will happen over time is that you will not be on-the-ball for most of the day. This can negatively affect your productivity levels because you won’t have the energy to focus and complete your tasks effectively.
9: Set up a self-care routine
One of the most effective ways to keep up your productivity levels while at the same time giving you time to recharge your batteries and clear your mind throughout the day is to use a Pomodoro timer.
This handy time management tool will schedule regular 25 minute sessions for you to concentrate on your work followed by a short break. You should take these break times away from your work to give your body and mind time to recharge.
Shake off tired and cramped muscles by taking a five-minute walk around your building, go outside for some fresh air or perform 5-minute mini-workouts to save some gym time. Go and make yourself a coffee, chat with a colleague, practice some deep breathing or meditation in a quiet corner away from your workstation.
Your break time action doesn’t have to be huge or profound. Just focus them on a few minutes of self-care to clear your mind and stretch your muscles. Making it deliberate and forming a routine will help you to re-focus your mind when you return to working on your task.
10: Allocate a time slot for social media
Everyone knows what a time-drain social media platforms can be. It can be so tempting to check your Facebook feeds or to catch up with your tweets only to find yourself fully absorbed in your feed with precious work time ticking away.
Consign your social media catch-up to a specific time of day and resist the temptation to quickly check throughout the day. This can mean switching off alerts on your phone and locking your phone away in a desk drawer during working hours.
Try out these productivity tips to see which ones work for you and adopt them for at least two weeks to make sure that they stick and become part of your working routine.
You will see your productivity increase and your procrastinating reduce, as well as giving your well-being a boost at the same time!
You can also save yourself a lot of time by outsourcing your everyday admin tasks. This will free up your precious time to dedicate to more important tasks that you need to get done.