How many days a week do you find yourself stressed out at work? How many nights at home do you spend thinking of tasks to be done in the office? With all of these considered, you probably still find yourself sitting on your phone wasting time more than you’d like to admit. How do you find personal productivity?
Work can feel like you’re running on an endless hamster wheel, never crossing the finish line of things to do. With only 24 hours a day, how do you invent more time within the day? You may find that you are simply mismanaging the hours in the day. Luckily, we have some tips that will help you get more done in less time.
Rejuvenate Your Mindset
A lot of people joke about having a case of the Mondays or the struggle of getting past the 3:00 pm slump. While these jokes are relatable and funny, attitude can be a real roadblock in our minds. Your outlook on a project may determine how productive you are on it. That’s why it’s important to recenter your mind at the beginning of a new work day.
Mike Vardy, founder of Productivityist, spent twelve years at Harvard University, which helped him become an expert on the connection between success and happiness. Vardy found that a positive brain is 31% more productive than a negative brain. Positive people are essential in the workplace because they work better on teams, have a broadened viewpoint, and have increased personal productivity.
How do you become more positive at work if you’re not generally an optimist? Start with reframing your viewpoint on specific projects or tasks. What are the aspects you enjoy about it? How does this task benefit you and others around you? If you’re stressed about getting a task done, think of that adrenaline as a focus enhancer. If you’ve been working on this project for awhile, what is a new way you could tackle it?
And as silly as it sounds, try smiling to yourself. Research has found that this simple expression can relieve stress.
One Step at a Time
Some days, the workload can feel overwhelming. Tackle that feeling of dread by managing your time wisely. Start by making a list of what you need to accomplish. It may seem trivial to physically take notes, but these tasks are taking up precious real estate within your headspace. By getting them down on paper, you don’t have to constantly keep track of them.
It’s not just about writing everything that comes to mind, though. Analyze your day and observe “SMART” tasks. What are “SMART” tasks? Trello describes them as:
In his book, Vardy explains this idea further. “Rather than spend time speeding things up for the sake of doing, take time to think about whether or not what you are doing is worth you doing at all. Instead of checking off as many boxes as possible, check the boxes you have on your list and make conscious choices about them.”
Next, instead of trying to tackle every checkpoint head on, focus on one item. Multitasking on a number of items can oftentimes lead to things being completed at lower quality. Because a lot of time can be wasted by lack of motivation, pay attention to something manageable and make real progress by the end of the day.
Organize the Big Picture
So you’ve completed one task off of your list. What good does that do if there’s still fifteen others? Now it’s time to think big picture. Estimate how long you think each task will take you. Once you have that figured out, map it out.
Use a calendar and lay out all of the projects along with the amount of time you’ve guessed. A calendar is helpful because you can also keep any deadlines in mind. First thing each day, consult your calendar and start your assigned task. This not only keeps yourself accountable for progress but can help alleviate the stress of not knowing where to start.
Another helpful way to organize your thoughts is with sticky notes or a white board. Placed somewhere you can see it daily, create three columns, one for “To Do”, one for “In Progress”, and the last for “Done”. From the previous step, fill in your to do list your “SMART” projects. As you start a task, move it into “In Progress”. Eventually, when completed, move it to “Done”. There are even helpful apps that help with this kind of task management. While the goal is not to check off a list full of minute, meaningless assignments, it is still motivating to cross goals of your list. You can even set a small reward for yourself with each completed task.
Delegate Where You Can
If you’re a business owner or someone with a strong can-do attitude, it can be hard to pass tasks off to someone else. It may feel only you can do it correctly, or possibly you feel like you’re inadequate if you ask for help. This simply isn’t the case. All the best leaders are delegating and there’s concrete reasons why.
Delegation can be important for your team’s morale. Hitesh Bhasin from Marketing91 lists four reasons why sharing tasks is beneficial.
It’s Okay to Say No
In this day and age, it may feel like you need to be a superhero to be successful. You have to juggle every proposal a coworker or client throws your way while keeping your own head above water. But more often than not, if you play yes man, you’re bound to sink.
This isn’t to say that you should say no to an exciting, nerve-racking opportunity that comes your way just because you’re scared of failing. It’s about making informed decisions based on your current workload. By doing this, you can avoid burnout.
So when is it okay to say no? If your “To Do” list already seems impossible, it’s time to be honest and say no. Your quality of work shouldn’t suffer for you quantity. It may be tempting to say yes to avoid disappointing a coworker or client, but it’s more disheartening to take on a task you can’t finish correctly. You let down both yourself and the other person.
Yes, you read that correctly! It may seem counterintuitive to take breaks when you’re trying not to waste time, but in the long run it can make you boost personal productivity. The Los Angeles Times found that you should walk away from work every 90 minutes or so. This doesn’t need to be long, try taking a lap around the office or stepping outside for a couple of minutes. You can even set a timer to help get in a routine. The brain is less effective when pushed to its limits and needs to be refueled in order to be productive.
Another great solution is using your lunch break to refresh your brain. The worst thing you can do is sit at your desk for lunch. Try eating outside or in a break room. Even a slight change in scenery can help keep your brain awake. If you have an hour lunch break, eat your lunch away from your desk and then participate in activities you enjoy. This could be as simple as going on a walk, watching a video on your phone, doing a hobby, or calling a friend.
Make the Most of Your Meetings
Meetings, where productivity goes to die. Or at least it feels like that sometimes. Certain meetings appear to go in circles, involve idle chit chat, or feel overall pointless. How can this be avoided?
Never go into a meeting without some form of agenda. Made ahead of time, this outline of goals should be known by every member attending the meeting. By doing this, it helps everyone know the objective, become less likely to forget a point, and stay on task. It also helps as a summary of the time for questions at a later date.
Everything I say I’ll remember and don’t write down, I forget. Agenda’s can be used to combat this. By printing out or sharing an agenda through email or word of mouth, coworkers can take specific notes on the same page of the full list. Again, this can cut down on repetitive email questions in the future.
Speaking of repetitive questions, have you ever been to a meeting that consisted of questions that either have already been answered or don’t involve the group? In a few meetings, it may seem like the problem at hand had a simpler solution, one that didn’t involve this gathering. This is a good time to avoid the wasted time and utilize a business management app or website. Slack or Basecamp 3 are examples of software that can organize these types of conversations.
Focus on Focusing
Work may still be a source of stress in your life, but these tips are destined to make your life easier and more organized. When you make personal productivity a focus in your life, success is bound to follow.
Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have any additional ideas? Share your experiences in the comments.
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