Working hard does not necessarily mean you are being productive. You may well be juggling phone calls with answering emails, eating lunch at your desk to save precious seconds and burning the midnight oil, but are you actually ticking off anything on the never-ending ‘to-do’ list? Following these simple steps can help boost your productivity this week, and every other week. It may just change how you work altogether!
To do or not to do…that is the question…
It’s easy enough to jot down all the things you need to get done in the day, or the week, but it’s not so easy to stay away from the less important tasks that don’t need as much of your undivided attention. Many of us are not aware of the things we do on a day-to-day basis that destroy our productivity. To combat this, besides writing a ‘to-do’ list, also write a ‘to-don’t’ list of all the things that are not high on the agenda, such as playing around on social media, or letting the inbox take control. This will help focus your mind and prioritise what needs to be done on a weekly or daily basis and reduces the risk of distractions.
Stop planning, start doing
We can all spend a lot of time writing down what needs to be done, or organising your work space so it’s ‘just right’…or generally wasting time avoiding the things that need to be done. Obviously this eats away at precious productivity hours and has a disastrous knock on effect to your overall productivity. So, instead of planning, get on with it! The option to work on the task in the future instead of now seems comfortable but is not wise. While you keep ‘saving’ that task for tomorrow (or the next day…) it is not going to go away and one day, unfortunately, someone’s going to have to account for it – the odds are, that will be you. It is better to take the bull by the horns, stop procrastinating and tick it off your list – TODAY.
A Piece of Cake
No one likes being the last one picked for a sports team. Are you leaving one particular task standing out in the cold waiting for its name to be called up? If that’s the case, rather than trying to run before you can walk, break down daunting tasks into more manageable segments. This will help you feel as though you’re achieving something and the task will seem less intimidating. Before you know it, it’ll be done and you can move on.
Divide Up Your Time
Some of us can concentrate longer than others, but no-one can concentrate constantly all day on a single project without breaks. As well as dividing up your tasks, divide up your time in order to stay focused and productive. Try working solidly for 25 minutes focusing solely on the task in hand, and then rewarding yourself with a 5 minute pause. When you have a mountain of work to get through, this could seem impossible, but dividing your time up into more manageable chunks will keep your mind fresh and the daydreams at bay.
Everyone has certain times of the day when they are naturally more productive or creative. Whether it’s after your morning caffeine hit or late afternoon, choose what time best works for you and use it to tackle the tasks that require a lot of thought. Use the times you’re feeling less creative to clear some of the less important tasks on your ‘to-don’t’ list, such as admin or clearing the inbox.
Don’t be a Perfectionist
Is perfection actually achievable? If you keep chasing perfection, it could take longer to get the task done; therefore eating away at your designated time for the task and you will be less productive than planned. The reason being, if you are seeking perfection, you are more likely to spend more time on a single task than required, causing other responsibilities to be pushed back and fall by the way-side. Even worse, perfectionism is even higher when you don’t have anyone but yourself, as fine tuning never ends. Try to stick to your allocated time and if you hit a creative brick wall, leave the task and come back to it another time with fresh eyes. If you’re not getting anywhere the first time round, you can spend time more productively on something else.
By Alison Curry-Taylor
Operations Director Daily Internet