You know that feeling at the end of the day, when you've worked and worked and have nothing solid to show for it?
Let's get rid of that feeling. Here are thirteen simple but powerful techniques to help you stay on track, focused, and organized at work.
An overwhelming amount of tasks waiting for you has a negative effect on your productivity. It tends to, well, be overwhelming.
We see the whole long list as one big, intimidating project, and it's difficult to get started on something intimidating. So rather than produce, we procrastinate. We're overwhelmed and intimidated by the volume and confusion, so we shy away from dealing with it.
Severely limit the size and scope of your daily task list. Focus on one to three important things per day. Allow minor tasks to fill the in-between times, and don't worry about the rest.
You can find a dozen suggestions for the optimum "time segment" you should work.
It really doesn't matter.
The point is to use a timer. Set it for a designated number of minutes. Choose one item from your (short) task list, start the timer, and do nothing but work on that item until the time is out. Then stand up, stretch, walk around. Take a break for five to fifteen minutes.
Come back, reset your timer, and then either a) resume work on that task or b) if the previous task is complete, choose a new task from your list.
Here's how it works: the stuff you use most often should be closest to you, preferably within arm's reach. But how often does that work out?
It's time to arrange your workspace to match how you actually work.
Think of your workspace as a series of concentric circles. Three, to be exact.
Put the stuff you use daily closest to you, in that first, center ring.
Put the stuff you use weekly in the next ring.
Put the stuff you use monthly in the third, final ring.
Anything else? The stuff you use annually, or every few months, or never? It goes right out the door. Get rid of it, or store it elsewh ere.
Follow this simple rule for any physical item you keep in your workspace: put it in a container and label.
Group small items together. Maybe you'll get a set of those plastic drawers, stick them in the closet, and label them: paper and printing supplies, reference materials, so on.
Label things that you file. They go into a container (a folder in the file drawer) and that folder has a label.
Label things that you save digitally. They go into a container (a folder in your digital filing system, or your digital inbox) and they get a label (a tag, a color code, or a label via the file name itself).
The inbox habit works like this: Designate two important inboxes. One is physical and one is digital.
Take all inputs — whether it's mail, information, your own notes, voicemail, email, business cards — and you put them in the appropriate inbox.
Physical stuff goes in the physical inbox, digital stuff in the digital inbox.
Set a regular time to go through your inboxes. This is a great practice for low-energy times.
To keep your inbox stuff from piling up, employ the 2-minute rule.
When something comes in, glance at it; if it takes 2 minutes or less, then do it, answer it, schedule it, delegate it, or delete it right away. It doesn't even need to go into your inbox.
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Perhaps you have three big projects currently going. Plus you have all the regular, non-project stuff, like keeping up with communication, team meetings, client follow-up, and maintenance work.
Assign a particular day to a particular areas, something like this:
Monday is for planning and Project #1.
Tuesday is for communicating and Project #2.
Wednesday is for meetings and Project #3.
Thursday is for client follow-up and non-project work.
Friday is for maintenance, plus wrapping up whatever didn't quite get done on the other four days.
Assigning a day a particular focus will give you an automatic filter for what should get your attention on that day and what should wait.
There are two primary types of distractions: external and internal.
The external distractions are the ones you don't directly cause; they are people-powered interruptions.
The internal distractions are the ones you cause yourself: the internal voices that cause you to procrastinate, the piles of disorganized clutter that drive you crazy, the Internet addictions like social media and mindless surfing.
For external distractions, follow your inbox and 2-minute protocol for most inputs. For the people interruptions, it helps a lot to be using time segments. When someone pops during your work time, just say, "I've got to work on this for the next [x] minutes and then I'll be happy to chat."
For internal distractions, either designate a time to deal with it (clutter) or implement a lim it on it (installing a blocker software that keeps you from social sites during certain hours of your day).
As you start using these techniques in your work day, you will see a difference. Remember that the first few days are the most difficult. Stick with it, and you will build productive habits that will save you from the frustration of wasted time and lost opportunities.
Knowing your goals is an essential part of achieving them. Take some amount of time to think about your long-term goals. Where do you envision yourself in one year? How, about six years from now? And what 15 years down the line?
Let’s say, for example, that your aspiration is to have your debut book published within the year. Breaking down this goal into daily, weekly, and monthly objectives can help you strategize how to reach your goal. For instance, if you aim to finish writing within the seven months have you considered how words or pages you would need to complete each month? Furthermore, have you thought about how many hours per week should be dedicated to this endeavor?
You should also fit these objectives into your schedule. Breaking up your long term objectives into manageable short term plans can be beneficial, in ensuring consistent progress, towards achieving them. Additionally, this approach can alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed when thinking about the process. Breaking down your goals into steps can increase the chances of achieving them. For example of feeling overwhelmed, by the thought of dedicating two hours to writing this Wednesday you can focus on reminding yourself that you aim to finish an entire book before the year ends.
Not everyone possesses the abilities as you do. It's important to prioritize the tasks that require your personal attention. To optimize efficiency and prevent overwhelming yourself, consider entrusting tasks that don't demand your level of expertise to those around you.
When assigning these tasks provide instructions and feedback so that the individuals performing them understand how to execute them in the most effective way possible. While this may initially take time it will ultimately save time as your team members or family members become adept at completing tasks with support. Working from home can present some challenges compared to an office environment. However, there are productivity tools to assist remote teams in simplifying and streamlining their work.
When we have a lot of work to do, we often try to tackle tasks. For example, you might participate in a phone meeting while reviewing and making notes on a document. Although it might seem like we are being productive, by multitasking the reality is quite the opposite.
People tend to overestimate their ability to effectively multitask. A recent study indicates that our brains handle multitasking by creating and utilizing shared representations of those tasks.
According to the study, even if we allocate brain resources to these tasks the overall efficiency of multitasking does not improve significantly because it primarily relies on how the brain shares its resources. This sharing scheme is not very efficient.
As you follow the steps outlined in this article you'll notice an increase in your productivity within a timeframe. It may be tempting to work on tasks without taking a moment to acknowledge your achievements. However, it's crucial to pause and appreciate your progress.
This doesn’t just help you feel better about yourself, although you’ll certainly get a mental boost from giving yourself a metaphorical pat on the back. By establishing a habit loop at the completion of each goal or task you cultivate momentum and motivation to keep pushing. Moreover this process enhances your self efficacy and confidence levels positively impacting your approach to both work and life in the run.
Having a daily routine helps you convert your daily tasks into daily habits. Following a consistent work routine can enhance your organization and simplify your workdays. For instance, you can make it a habit to check your emails at 9 am Daily. Once this becomes nature you'll find it more challenging to procrastinate. Starting tasks will require motivation because your workflow will feel natural and effortless.
Another way to establish a routine is to create a reusable template that automates repetitive work. This could involve using email templates as shortcuts sparing you the need to type out the message each time. Similarly having meeting agenda templates allows for quick filling in of specific discussion points based on your needs.
Staying focused and motivated in a setting can be quite a challenge. Studies indicate that excessive clutter can negatively impact productivity but having a bit of messiness can actually benefit individuals. Whether or not you require an organized desk largely depends on your personality and job role.
If you find that clutter distracts you and you need to make a change to get better results, try keeping a tidier workspace. You wish to improve your performance, consider adopting an organized approach to your workspace. Implement the use of filing cabinets or systems to ensure every item has its designated place when not in use.If you're someone who enjoys having objects to fiddle with while being creative there's no harm in that. Just remember to keep it in moderation as excessive fidgeting can have effects. In essence, it's not about conforming to a working style that may not suit you best. What matters is having enough self-awareness to know what environment you need to cultivate in order to be at your best and do better work.
Daily-used items should be closest to you, weekly-used items in the next ring, and monthly-used items in the outermost ring. Items used less frequently should be stored elsewhere or discarded.
When something enters your inbox, quickly evaluate it. If it can be addressed in 2 minutes or less, handle it immediately rather than letting it sit in the inbox. Follow this rule — and you will always be on time for everything.
There are two types of distractions: external (like house work, neighbours) and internal (like procrastination or internet distractions). For external — set boundaries and inform others about your work time. For internal — designate times to address them and give yourself some time for movies or etc.