Everyone is so busy these days.
There is just so much to do, and it seems like 24 hours in a day is just not enough.
Every Monday, opening my Evernote, I promise myself to have a hyper-productive week.
I’ll finally cross off all those long-lasting tasks and have a brand new list of brand new tasks.
And then they come — emails, meetings, casual “do me a favors.”
Sounds familiar, right? By mid-week, when I become a bit tired, the greatest enemy comes: procrastination. After so many interruptions, only high importance and urgent tasks get to be crossed of the list, and next Monday the vicious circle continues.
It helped me to sit, concentrate and think about the situation calmly. Clearly, that is not how it should be. Many people actually manage to be productive, efficient and meet deadlines. Was that something I couldn’t do?
Here are eight ways I used to boost my productivity; see what works best for you and make following those your new daily habit. It won’t be easy at the beginning, but you’ll like the result:
1. Stop Multitasking
Yes, it sounds great when you claim to be multitasker (with pride) at a job interview, but really, multitasking is a myth. You can only do one thing at a time.
So make a list, prioritize, and do only one thing at a time — mindfully, completely.
2. Hone Your To-Do List
Speaking of making a list and prioritizing, a to-do list is a must-do for anyone who wants things done. Make a daily to-do list, so when you look at week-long tasks, it doesn’t overwhelm you as much.
Break big to-dos into even smaller tasks to keep things simple. After all, the pleasure of ticking off the things completed from the to-do list is something else!
Review your to-do list at the end of each day, to see what gets carried forward to the next day or week. You can even make your list for Monday on Friday! That way, it doesn’t take you very long to start working, after you come in and slowly settle in on Monday.
3. Schedule Work Time
Having a set time for coffee breaks, lunch and meetings during the day will help you go with a familiar flow. Batch similar tasks together so you don’t get distracted doing random things at a time.
Track your time — being aware of how much of actual time is spent on different activities will help you schedule your overall work. It can help you get more of your core work done rather than just meeting people or checking emails.
4. Use Apps
If you find yourself getting distracted by social networking or gaming websites on your computer, then use one of the many apps available for Android or iPhone to limit your time on those sites.
There are plenty for Mac and PC too. Add those distracting websites there and set a timer; during that time when you are totally focused on your work, those websites will not be accessible to you!
5. Tomato Timer
Speaking of using timers, this tomato timer philosophy (the Pomodoro Technique) says to get a timer — either the kitchen timer shaped like a tomato or just your iPhone timer — and set it to 20 minutes at a time.
To make sure you get a task done during that time focus only on one task — no distractions. When the time is up, take a break.
You can even do a two-minute rule, where you can get hold of the worst of those tasks and do them for at least two minutes — this will help you avoid procrastination.
6. Take Breaks
To get the most from following the methods mentioned above you must follow the rule of taking breaks. Don’t underestimate its importance.
Taking a break right after every intense task that took up your complete attention will relax you, cool you down and prep you for the next task.
7. Switch Off Phone/Internet
Yes, there are times when tough measures need to be incorporated to make sure you do what needs to be done. Keeping your phone on the desk, next to your computer will distract you.
With every new push notification, your focus shifts from what you were doing to what’s happening on your phone. And really, there is no need to check your mail every 5-10 minutes.
Simply put your phone away if it can’t be switched off and plug off the internet if you have everything you need to work with on your computer.
Yes, you don’t like it when everyone keeps barking about exercising, but there have been multiple studies that say exercising, especially early in the mornings, can boost your creativity at work, and improve your concentration for the rest of the day.
So why not try getting up 20 minutes earlier to take a brisk walk? Or maybe incorporate it into your coffee break. Walk to a coffee shop that’s a little farther away.
With the help of these things, I was able to get things done and start each week fresh, without missing deadlines or stressing myself out.
What things help you become more productive in your day?
(Photo by Karolina Grabowska / CC BY)