People tend to procrastinate. They suffer from procrastination from the time. It’s easy to schedule something and even record it on your calendar. But then the approaching deadlines turn into a burden reminding of unfulfilled tasks.
You might have noticed that one day you do things with inspiration, but the next day you feel a lack of motivation. In order to avoid such wasteful periods, it is necessary to figure out what determines our productivity at work and what motivates us.
Efficient performance can be expressed by a simple formula:
Minimum time spent + Maximum achieved results = Productivity
It’s like a Pareto principle that 20% of efforts give you 80% of results. But how to achieve it? Well, this is not a quick process. You can’t reach perfection in just one day, but you can progress step-by-step. In the end, this is a skill that consists of many tiny habits.
1. Complete Your Tasks Smartly
Plan your day, schedule it and write it down in your to-do list. The to-do list is one of the most efficient assistants when you feel lack of time. Thanks to it you will not forget about important things and will simply filter less important ones.
Try to estimate how much time each task takes you, think how easy you waste minutes and hours. One of the founders of Forbes, Steve Olenski, suggests following a simple rule: if you understand that you need 2 minutes to complete a particular action or task, do it without delay! This task won’t take much time, but it will help to get rid of the feeling that other important things are delayed.
Another efficient approach to cover more tasks during the day is to set a fixed time for its completion. The work usually takes all the time you plan to devote to it.
That is, if you hope to write a report between the morning and lunch, do not expect that you would be able to do it in half an hour. But if you allow yourself just half an hour for a report, you would have all chances to be ready within 40 minutes.
When preparing a to-do list, do not forget to plan your rest as well. The quality and speed of the work depend on how well you restore your strength. Plan small breaks during the working day (at least 15 minutes each) to change the activity and maintain a work capacity, as well as one big break for lunch.
Short breaks from 30 seconds to 3 minutes improve your mood and attention. A person performing monotonous things quickly gets tired, mental processes are suppressed. So if your work is a constant humdrum, then your task is to organize a variety of leisure activities.
We often have to deal with uninteresting or even unpleasant things. Most of us put off these tasks subconsciously avoiding their execution. Thus it is increasing the waste of working time.
Difficult and unpleasant job can be split into smaller tasks. A common mistake is to complete easy things first, like checking emails. What do we get as a result? We will just inappropriately spend the reserves necessary to perform meaningful tasks.
Plan your work in a way that difficult tasks become your priority. It will greatly improve your productivity.
2. Say ‘No’ to Multitasking
The human mind and attention can effectively work with only one object, one task, one document, and so on. Many of us believe multitasking is a good way to do more things in one go. However, focusing on several tasks at the same time makes you less productive as you do not pay enough attention to details.
Instead, you should focus on one task and thus do all the work faster that will allow you to use your time more efficiently.
For example, write all the necessary emails and start the next task without looking into your email box every minute. According to scientists, our brain can’t cope with many tasks at the same time.
There is nothing wrong with striving to do your work at the highest level. But perfectionism inevitably leads to a lack of time. It is better to set yourself rational goals.
Of course, you always strive for perfection. However, the desire for the ideal result may bring the opposite effect: you postpone tasks and your and dissatisfaction grows. You should always try to assign a deadline to your task, complete it, and move to the next one.
Procrastination is a fairly widespread phenomenon. People often postpone big and difficult tasks for later, and failures may lead to the idea of low self-esteem.
Patricia Arean, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, calls these moments a ‘normal response to steroids’. She says
‘if the project scares you by its magnitude, split it thoughtfully into small parts. Our brain is constructed so that it searches for things that are dangerous or can hurt us’, she explains.
There is nothing wrong with the fact that you feel a bit depressed when you cannot do something at the first effort’. If you have a deadline in a week, divide the entire amount of work into small portions.
After completing each of them, you will get a dose of dopamine. And the whole project has a chance to be completed successfully and with no stress.
3. Delegate Your Tasks
It is important to correctly delegate tasks to others, especially in a case, when the quality of work will not be affected. Sometimes it’s better to pay someone for routine work. It is more effective than doing it all yourself.
For example, you can hire an accountant to do your taxes. Or delegate other things you don’t like or want to do, but you need them to be complete. Focus on things only you can perform.
This approach will free up the time to perform more important tasks. The main thing is to correctly formulate the task that you delegate by specifying all the necessary details. Effective delegation is one of the most important time management skills you need to master and use.
Successful people record their goals and plan things. Losers operate chaotically, depending on the circumstances. They do not control life their tasks and this bad habit always throws them back.
You should always have a list (if not in the notebook, then at least on your mind):
- make a list of tasks for the day;
- make a list of calls and meetings;
- plan your time for each task.
The most important thing is to keep to your plan. Try to avoid distractions and complete all the tasks during the day.
4. Improve Your Workplace & Reduce Distractions
Intensive work sucks out the energy we need to release our skills and talents. Our life is overloaded with a flow of information and everyday tasks. The ability to prioritize tasks is the only way to productivity. Focus on a few important things and try to ignore less important ones.
All these sound notifications of apps and unread messages on the smartphone screen are the main enemies of concentration. Turn them off completely and leave only those that are required to complete the task you are currently working on.
Make a habit of checking all communication once or twice a day. It will considerably save you time and internal resources.
The work efficiency will depend on how you managed to equip your workplace. Psychologists keep telling that a successful organization of working space has a direct impact on work productivity. Therefore, it is recommended to create an optimal work atmosphere before performing important tasks.
An ideal workplace is something that does not distract you from work. Everything that is on your desktop should help concentrate and complete your work efficiently.
If your desktop is cluttered, clean everything except critical items for work: a computer, a keyboard, a mouse, a phone. Throw away unnecessary documents or place them in the appropriate folders (and also remove them from the table).
Do not keep cups on your table. The main rule of good organization of the desktop is not to keep here any things that clog the space.
You may also put green plants in your office, change the color of the walls, add more light and turn on favorite calm music.
5. Use Productivity Tools
The pace of life accelerates every year. It is becoming more and more difficult to keep all important things in the head, so we often create lists of tasks that need to be done.
Collective work on projects requires access to these lists not only for us personally but also for partners or co-workers. So, new approaches to information organization, planning of current activities and work on projects are needed.
There are numerous apps to schedule meetings, organize tasks, and keep track of the results. There are plenty of free apps for any purpose. The most popular apps are Trello, Asana, Slack, and Todoist.
These apps adapt the workspace and make your day-to-day routine, task lists, text writing, and file searches more comfortable and efficient.
Passive lifestyle often blocks the creative energy. Of course, sometimes you have to seriously concentrate on work in front of a computer or laptop, but giving time to exercise is a daily and integral part of creative life.
Attention to your body helps to calm down the restless mind and boosts innovations. One of the physiological causes of stress is lack of movement. Do not expect to catch up on training in the evening. Stay active throughout the day.
You may also walk to your office or add some exercise program to your daily routine, it will surely help you to feel a surge of energy.
First of all, you need to analyze your current productivity. You need to openly look at the things because any tactics of productivity become useless if you are not fair with yourself. For example:
- Is it an often case that you put off tasks for later?
- Do you make plans and then give up a few weeks? Or do you break them up into several stages and complete?
- Is there a clear to-do list for every working day?
- Do you listen to your brain when it signals that you are tired and need to rest?
- Do you spend a lot of time on social networks, checking emails, useless discussions?
The honest responses to these questions will help you realize what habits should be eliminated and what habits to develop.
To understand the reason for low productivity, you need to try to take a broader look at things. There is no laziness, there is a lack of motivation.
Find your goal that motivates to work more efficiently, and see how life changes for the better.
The simple tips in this article will help you increase the productivity at work, they are all time tested and extremely effective! And remember, the more efficient you are, the more time will have time for hobbies, leisure, and family.