Relying on multi-tasking and tackling tasks as they come up typically does not set you up for a successful day, and does not maximise your productivity. You know those days where you’re running around, and you’ve been busy all day, but you look back and can’t think of one thing you’ve completed.
We all struggle with improving our productivity and getting the most out of the day. Over the years, though, we’ve compiled some hacks to help us work smarter, not harder. Here’s some tips on how to increase productivity at work and in life.
Make the To List Work for You
To do lists can be overwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my to do lists, and you’ll probably have to rip mine from my cold hands. But I’ve learnt to make them work better for me.
Having a long list of never-ending tasks (which most of us realistically do) can make you feel unaccomplished and like you’re drowning in work. Keep you’re running to do list, but shorten it down to a manageable section of priorities. Shorten that list to the top four to six things you need to get accomplished.
You’ll be able to focus more on the tasks on hand, feel more accomplished as you run through the whole thing and it helps you map out in your mind what tasks are taking precedence over others.
It’s good ole psychology people.
Do the Most Important Tasks First
Are there major things you have to get done today? Don’t leave them for the end of the day! Do them first thing, then you aren’t stressed about time and completion.
Typically, tasks can take longer than you plan for or maybe you run into issues, by completing your top priorities first thing you’ve allowed for time in the day to address any bumps in the road.
Also, then you’ve done what you must for the day and any extra tasks completed are a bonus!
If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.Brian Tracy
We all have time lost with catch up calls or random emails. The black hole of email can be especially draining.
Time blocking can be a game changer.
You’ve probably heard people talk about how they check their email first thing, the middle of the day and then at the end of the day. At first, you’re probably thinking pure blasphemy! But give it a try.
By blocking time for your normal day-to-day tasks as well as your large projects, you can focus and clear items off your to do list. Schedule time for large tasks, like taking three hours to sit and write a blog, but don’t forget the smaller tasks as well like checking in with people throughout the day or popping into your inbox.
Share this schedule with your team.
We’ve started time blocking within our individual calendars so we know what each person is working on and when they would have time to devote to something we need. It also lets us know why maybe they aren’t responding to us right away and gives us a timeframe of when they would be working on something.
Time blocking can help a lot with goal setting and achieving them.
Leave Time Between Tasks
I am definitely working on this. When creating my schedule for the day, I hop from one thing to the next without leaving time to decompress from the previous task. Leaving time between completing one aspect of your day and moving on to the next, gives you a breather.
We’re not talking thirty minutes between each task (that would make it really hard to get things done!). Simply leaving time to make yourself a cup of tea between finishing one thing and starting the next can leave you fresher and more motivated for your next item. Especially if you’re switching project types. Maybe you’re moving from a more analytical task to a more creative one. Give yourself time to change your headspace.
We’re also big proponents of taking a walk around the block. Changing your scenario for five minutes and getting moving does wonders for rejuvenating you!
Have Processes for Recurring Tasks
If you or your team are doing the same thing over and over again, it may be time to reanalyse these tasks.
First, take a step back and see how you can streamline that process. Can you implement software that would speed it up, allocate other people to help, outsource that task? How can you speed up the process? Would templates help?
Solutions don’t always involve money. Forty8Creates has created templates for almost everything we do. Not only does this streamline the process and stop us having to create the same thing over and over again, it ensures brand consistency and helps eliminate human error.
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource Tasks
Part of having a successful day isn’t completing the most tasks, it’s completing the best ones. What I mean by that is if you’re using time to review the financials for the month, but this takes you three times as long as a professional broker, maybe you should outsource that task. If it means you’re spending more time growing your business or allowing more face-to-face time with customers, you renegotiating your time could potentially have a higher ROI.
A lot of times, we get connected to the tasks we’re doing and don’t think about the larger picture. We’re stuck in the weeds. Take some time out and think what you’re spending the majority of your time on. Is it a productive use of it? Would it be better allocated to another team member?
We all have our strengths and weaknesses, don’t be afraid to utilise your team’s strengths and look outside your business if need be.
Do What Works for You
In my personal life, I live by the rule that if something takes less than three minutes, I’ll do it in the moment. For instance, putting the scissors back in their right location. In my professional life though, I find this can scatter my day. I like to bunch smaller tasks and instead of doing them as they pop up (unless they urgently need to be completed), I tend to review them at the end of the day or at lunch and get them out of the way.
Maybe the two-minute tasks don’t distract you from the overall and you would rather have them completed than adding them to your to do list.
Take the time to analyse yourself and your workflow and really critique it.
Communicate Your Structure with Your Team and Coworkers
If you’re changing up you day and trying to work in a new way, communicate this to the other people in your life. It affects them, too!
With time blocking, this can be quite a change to the day structure. If you know you’ll be unavailable during these times, your team members should know as well. Also, communicate your preferred mode of communication. Do you know them to email you any questions? Text? Slack?
Having everyone on the same page only makes your day go smoother.
Be Comfortable Saying No
No is typically one of the first words children say but is one of the hardest words for adults to say.
If someone asks you to do something, that doesn’t mean it automatically needs to be added to your list.
We’re all for being a team player, but if a task takes you longer than you know it will take another team member or if they’re working on it already, there’s no harm in asking if they can take over completely.
You’ve gotta keep control of your time, and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.Warren Buffet
The same for if you’re feeling overloaded. You can say no to new projects until you feel you have those under control. The no doesn’t have to be a hard no, but a redirection of the conversation to let the person know where you stand and allows you to provide an accurate timeline of how it fits into your current priorities.
End Your Day by Planning for the Next One
When you’ve finished for the day, review what items you were able to complete and what your priorities are for tomorrow.
This simple ten minutes helps set you up for success. Many times, the morning is spent reviewing the previous day. This way you get a jump start!
We’re all looking to have more time in our days and be more productive. Hopefully, these tips help you restructure your day. Now go forth and work smarter and not harder in a way that works for you!
Categorised in: Entrepreneurial Advice