We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with information — emails, texts, tweets, posts on social media websites.
But the problem isn’t the amount of information; it’s time we spend focused on them.
I spent less and less time working because I was too busy checking my email or Instagram feed every 10 minutes. The constant distractions did make me feel productive in my thoughts while, in reality, they were mere time wasters because they didn’t allow me to stay focused on any one thing for an extended period.
I tried lots of different things and wrote down what worked, which didn’t and why.
Eventually, I found ways to get quality work done with minimal effort and time with trial and error. These strategies saved me extra hours to devote to self-care.
Whether you’re a student, a stay-at-home parent, a business owner, or someone managing multiple projects, these tips work.
Plan for a week, instead of a day.
When I work with clients, I first identify the small chunks of time that I can commit to each day and then determine what kind of task fits in. If a task is bigger, I break it down into smaller chunks that can be done daily for five days instead of completing it in one go.
If you have 2 hours of work to do on a Monday, you might feel more overwhelmed sitting two hours straight than doing that 2 hours of work over 4 days. It all depends on what works best for your schedule, personality, and type of work.
This is very effective because it allows people to “sneak up” on their long-term goals instead of feeling overwhelmed from doing everything at once or not having enough time to do it all.
Planning for the week also accommodates unproductive days when you feel lazy, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
Flex your routine.
Before I begin working on my top 1–3 items, I’ll spend about 5–10 minutes writing down exactly what I want to accomplish.
My number one priority might be finishing a certain task, but if there’s something else more important than that or if there’s another item I need to complete before starting the first task, then it should go above on my priority list.
If something needs to happen by a certain time or date, I’ll write it in my calendar instead of diving straight into it.
This is important because if you don’t write them down, you’ll never remember everything you need to accomplish in one day. Besides, writing rewires the mind to work faster instead of getting caught up in distractions.
Despite planning for the top 1–3 tasks for a day, you’ll always have hiccups. So, try to choose at least one task that could be postponed for another day, if needed.
This way, you’ll have less chance of falling through the cracks.
If you find it difficult to keep track of your tasks or time, try the TaskClone app. TaskClone allows you to schedule tasks throughout the day so even though you finish your most important item early, it automatically becomes part of tomorrow’s plan no matter what time you’re done.
It’s also a good solution for those who feel overwhelmed by distractions throughout the day since tasks can be scheduled as late as 11 pm.
If someone isn’t distracted by Facebook or email, they probably won’t be bothered by a task coming in at midnight!
Place your bets only on “one.”
Spending all of your energy on one task will help you complete it faster and with higher quality than distributing it on two or more tasks simultaneously.
Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman once stated:
“One sign of an expert is consistency in performance — doing better on difficult tasks compared to easier ones.”
Let’s say you’re reading an important email and writing a report for work. You only have two hours before the end of the day to finish it up, but halfway into your assignment, you receive a phone call from your friend asking how you’ve been since they last saw you. It would be tempting to tell them about everything you had planned for today and how busy you are, but if you want to meet your deadline, you should put your phone away and let them know that you can’t talk right now.
The reason is that even though it’s only a phone call, it still takes some energy to respond to it since you have to speak, listen, and think about what your friend is saying.
You’ll be more productive if you commit to only “one objective” whenever possible to avoid losing your focus.
When you do more than one thing at once, your brain uses up the energy with the harder task and distributes it to other tasks compensating for quality. This, in turn, consumes more time as you have to revise and edit your work once more. Besides, when you switch from one activity to another, it takes time for your mind to get back into a flow state again.
You should also avoid interruptions because they can become distractions that affect your concentration and productivity for hours.
To get more and quality work done in less time with minimal effort, you need an action plan:
- Plan for a week, instead of a day
- Flex your routine
- Spend all of your energy on one task
The problem with work productivity is not the intensity of the task but failing to understand the task. If you identify the problem correctly, you can add value to your work without worrying about time or resources.
The strategies mentioned above enable you to understand your tasks at their very core that you feel confident in completing them without feeling overwhelmed.
Which productivity strategy resonated with you the most?