Stay on top of your work with these quick tips
Nov 11th 2019
Marian Toledo
Author: Marian Toledo
Stay on top of your work with these quick tips
Our increasingly fast-paced world is demanding us to do more with less time. Increasing productivity in daily life, especially at work, has become a major preoccupation for most professionals. Because of competing priorities, professionals often feel like their workday does not allow enough time to complete all the tasks and projects that are due on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. What is more, although technology has facilitated aspects of work — namely, teamwork and remote work — it has also become a major distraction during work hours. How can professionals increase their productivity in the midst of never-ending to-do lists, work and personal commitments, and constant distraction?
Here are some tips to increase productivity at work, regardless of your industry:
Structure your workday before the day starts
Structure your workday before the day starts
Spend about twenty minutes before the end of your workday to structure what your next day — or even your week — will look like. What are your priorities? Decide which deadlines are non-negotiable and which ones are more flexible and establish a schedule that allows you to maximise the time you spend on difficult or time-consuming tasks and that works around other commitments, like meetings and appointments.
Use a digital calendar, like Outlook or iCal, that synchs across your devices so you do not miss any appointments, meetings, or tasks. You can also use print journals or planners as a complement to your scheduling system — or vice versa, if you prefer paper-based scheduling. What is crucial is that you distribute your time effectively across your multiple priorities.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning…”
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning
No, we’re not talking about actual frogs. The quote above is from Mark Twain, who stated: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Applied to productivity, that suggests that one should do the most tedious and difficult tasks in the morning, so you can have your day free to do other tasks.
Doing the most difficult thing in the morning works because of two main reasons. First, you’re often functioning at your peak after waking up, when you’re well-rested and before you become overwhelmed by the things you have to do during your workday. It is easier to tackle difficult or tedious tasks when one has a fresh mind. Second, doing the most difficult, tedious, or time-consuming task first allows you to free up your schedule. Instead of worrying constantly about having to complete a dreaded task, you can schedule it early in the morning and have the rest of the day to accommodate other priorities.
Use the pomodoro technique
Use the pomodoro technique
Pomodoro is a time-management and task-tackling technique that provides twenty to twenty-five minutes of focused working time and a five-minute break in between. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, the purpose of pomodoro is to divide your time in evenly-distributed chunks where you can focus on doing one task at a time. Without distractions, it is possible to produce high volumes of work in a shorter span of time.
How does it work? You decide what task you can do that you can divide into smaller chunks. Ideally, those chunks can be completed in twenty to twenty-five minutes each. Then, use a timer or time-tracking app and devote those minutes to working only on one task. Stop at the twenty-five-minute mark and take a five-minute break. Repeat the process throughout the day or until you finish your task!
Smaller goals? You bet!
Breaking down complex tasks into simple steps can help you feel your goals is more attainable and less overwhelming. How can you break down your project into smaller goals? Which goals would you be able to reach first, and which ones are less important?
One of the benefits of breaking down a project into smaller steps is that it is easier to accommodate smaller chunks of work into a daily work schedule. It also allows you to schedule other projects or work tasks on the same day you are working on your bigger project. This is not about multitasking but, rather, about redistributing tasks to fit your work schedule or time availability.
About multitasking…
About multitasking
Do not multitask. Multitasking is associated with a lowered ability to concentrate, switch tasks, and process information. According to Forbes,
“Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.”
Instead of increasing productivity, multitasking diminishes it. Since your brain can only focus well on one task at a time, why not design specific time for each task and then alternate or rotate from task to task until the job is complete?
Takeaways
With these small changes you can increase your productivity at work and in life. The key to achieving and maximising efficiency is consistency. By applying these tips to your work routine on a daily basis, you can also see substantial improvements to your productivity levels.
What next?
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