Smash through your productivity goals with our tips on getting the most from your day.
“It’s been a big week/month/year” – do you find yourself thinking that all the time? Pressure is greater than ever. It feels like deadlines are tighter, workloads are skyrocketing and the digital age we live in offers up a bevy of distractions. And research indicates that productivity is declining – shock horror.
Whether you’re feeling drained come the end of the year, have a career change in sight or you just want to get more done in your day, it’s time to put some simple productivity tips into action:
1. Remember the big picture
It’s easy to get so lost in the details that you forget what you’re trying to achieve. But while you’re jumping through a million hoops trying to answer emails, set meetings and deliver on day-to-day tasks set by the big boss, it’s actually the time spent planning that gets results.
Forbes breaks down your daily productivity into three ‘levels of altitude’: ground level where you get the jobs done, hilltop levels where you plan out what’s needed, and cloud level which is your ultimate goal or target. Keep all three in mind and you’ll be wowing your managers in no time.
2. Think bite-sized chunks – not the whole meal
A to-do list is all well and good but, if you set the bar too high, it can actually become a point of anxiety. Give this a go: break down your big task into smaller, more manageable “subtasks” – research indicates that this approach results in more accurate and efficient work than trying to get the whole job done at once.
(Tick. Tick. Tick!)
Just feel your motivation soar as you tick each one off the list.
3. Stop multi-tasking
Because about only two per cent of the population can actually do it well! Studies have shown that concentrating on more than one task at a time results in about a 40 per cent drop in productivity. Stop checking your email inbox, taking calls or switching between tasks. Prioritise your list of to-dos for the day from most important to least, and then methodically work through one at a time – no ifs or buts!
4. Minimise distractions
We’re looking at you Facebook!
University of California research shows that the standard office worker in the US only works for an average of three minutes and five seconds before being interrupted or switching to another task – be it a co-worker asking a question, a social media notification or a phone ringing.
While you can’t always prevent others interrupting you, similar research showed that people actually interrupt themselves. We’ve all been there – hovering between a number of different tasks or taking a quick scroll through the Insta feed.
Let’s nip this one in the bud: have set hours between tasks or, towards the end of the day, go through emails – this avoids having your agenda dictated by others. Log out of social media and, if you’re truly struggling to kick the habit, put your phone in your desk drawer.
5. Get your timing right
Tick off the most mentally taxing tasks (the ones you secretly dread) first thing in the morning when you’re fresh (and most likely caffeinated), while keeping admin and easier tasks for the end of the day when the 3pm fatigue sets in.
And don’t forget to take regular breaks! Breaking your workday into intervals of work versus rest helps to offset decision fatigue and boredom, and increase focus.
Try the Pomodoro method, where you break your workday up into 25-minute chunks, with five-minute breaks in-between. After three to four intervals, take a 15-minute break. The idea is that working for a set amount of time increases your sense of urgency – we all know we get more stuff done when there is a deadline in sight – while also limiting the fatigue that comes with concentrating for too long.
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