The alarm goes off very early. You throw some clothes on and run to the gym for an early workout. Run back home, shower, breakfast. Go through today’s endless to-do list. You groan in despair. So much to do! And don’t forget your kids’ packed lunches. At least it is not your turn to carpool. Your mornings are mad, but your workdays are not much better. You try your best to multitask and get everything done that needs to be done. Yet, you feel like you are not productive enough. There are not enough hours in a day to accomplish everything.
Here are a few tips and hacks that will help you become more productive without feeling overwhelmed:
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” Dale Carnegie, American writer
First off, being productive does not mean doing several things at the same time. In fact, if you try to do that, you will have accomplished very little at the end of the day. Focus on a few tasks and do them well.
- Create lists: It is nearly impossible to remember everything you need to do in one day. A list will help you keep track of what you have done and what needs doing. If you have a large project at hand, break it down into smaller tasks and assign each a time frame. Apps like Trello can help you map out your entire week. Also, it helps you move around tasks in order to accommodate those with higher priority.
- Stop multitasking: If you try to do ten things at the same time, you will be stretched thin and probably fail to do anything well. Focus on one task at a time. A study showed that multitasking can reduce your productivity by 40%!
- Tackle the biggest tasks first: Some people swear by the 1-3-5 Rule. The way it works is that you arrange your tasks from big to small. Therefore, you make progress on every front, from large projects to humdrum daily tasks. Also, you can choose to tackle the most time-consuming task first and then move on to shorter ones.
- Time-block your schedule: You can use tools like Google Calendar or Trello to create a visual daily schedule with chunks of time assigned to each task.
- Set small objectives: Pepper your day with small objectives that you can accomplish. They can range from responding to emails to smaller tasks that are part of a large project. It feels less overwhelming.
- Take regular breaks: You know it is time to take a break when your brain hurts. Take a short breather, stretch, walk up and down the stairs, or get a cup of tea. If you continue working when you are tired, your productivity suffers, and you run the risk of burning out. The Pomodoro Technique can also be quite effective: work for 25-minute stretches and take five-minute breaks.
- Limit interruptions throughout the day: close your office door for a few hours each day, mute notifications on your phone, or wear headphones while working on a task.
- Reduce stress: The benefits of exercise and meditation on the brain and the body are well known. Look after your brain’s health and you will be more productive. A study showed that 70% of employees spend time worrying about stressors at work, which negatively affects productivity.
- Eat well: a nutritious diet with lots of fruit and vegetables showed a 25% increase in job performance.
- Cut down on unnecessary meetings: do not set up a meeting when an email will do. Also, set a time limit for your meetings and stick to it.
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