All of us want to have more of those great days where it feels like we’re getting everything done quickly and nothing can stop us. Most people find these super productive days to be elusive, and it’s easy to feel like it happens more by chance than because of any effort on our parts.
But it is possible to capture that feeling. With a little planning and these time-saving tips, you can make sure you’re working productively and efficiently every day of the week. It’s all about establishing rhythm and momentum in your work. In short, you’ll get more done in less time, and it’ll feel easier.
1. Plan Your Daily Tasks
One of the most important parts of increasing your productivity is establishing a fluid work rhythm. To do that, you need to have a game plan before you ever even sit down to start working for the day. This may take an extra few minutes at the start of your day, but you’ll more than make up for it in time and energy saved during your normal work hours.
Start by making a list of all of the things you want to accomplish that day. Make sure to be realistic and don’t pack more into your list than you can reasonably handle. If you overestimate what you can do in a day, you may end up feeling discouraged halfway through and your momentum will suffer. Success with productivity is all about keeping the momentum going through a positive mindset and feelings of accomplishment.
2. Vary Your Assignment Types
Variety is a great factor to keep in mind when you’re scheduling your day. You probably already have an idea of how much of one type of work you can do before you get sick of it. Try to plan around this by alternating different types of work throughout your day.
This can be as simple as changing gears and working on a different part of a large project, or you can even alternate a few small projects that are different in scope or tone. You’ll learn over time exactly what kind of variation works best for you. The important thing is that you’re giving your brain some variety. This practice will keep you mentally engaged and ready to move on to the next thing.
3. Break Large Tasks Up
We all have those large or difficult projects that feel like they’ll take a herculean amount of effort to complete. These kinds of things can get you bogged down and slow down the rhythm you’re working so hard to develop during the day.
Find ways you can break large tasks up and focus on completing them in smaller pieces. This will not only make the work more efficient as you plan ahead, but it increases the feeling of accomplishment as you complete each part. All of this feeds into your momentum. By breaking up large tasks, you’ll be able to finish them more quickly and with less effort.
4. Research Before You Start
Distractions during the work day can come in any number of forums, including other work. When you’re very focused on completing a task, having to stop to look something up or go to the web to do a little research can pull you out of the productive mindset you’ve established.
Getting back to the task at hand after will be even harder as you try to rebuild your rhythm. Take a look at your schedule of tasks for the day and start to anticipate any areas that may cause you to stumble later on. It’s not possible to anticipate everything, but you’ll be able to prepare for most obstacles and minimize the amount of time later. Keep your research at hand so it’s ready for you when you need and you’ll be able to seamlessly move through your work.
5. Reward Yourself for Complete Tasks
I want you to think about video games for a second. We’ve all played them once in a while, either on a home console or on a site like Facebook. It’s easy to start playing for a minute and end up losing a lot of time there instead. We can learn something from this. What makes them so addictive is the constant sense of progression, accomplishment and reward.
You can implement this same strategy in your own work life by breaking your daily tasks up into goals and rewarding yourself throughout the day for completing them. Pick a reward that you’ll enjoy, but not something that will distract you from the task at hand. Your reward could be something as small as your favorite snack or getting to listen to your favorite song. Whatever it is, it should be an immediate reward. Save the largest rewards for the end of the day when you’ve accomplished all of your tasks.
We all want to have a productive day! What time-saving tips do you have? Tell us in the comments.
(Image courtesy of Ben Raynal under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)