As a busy professional, one of your daily struggles is probably to get the best out of your time. Being more productive with the time you have is the key that will help you achieve your professional goals, work on your personal life, and spend good quality time with your family, friends or significant other, without losing your mind trying.
When we attempt to be more productive, what comes to mind first are those big projects or tasks that seem to take the longest to complete. However, in the majority of cases, the most of our time is eaten up by smaller tasks and chores. Things like emails, phone calls, house chores and interruptions. These are the real time-stealers, the little things that make us wonder where our time goes.
But those small tasks are not really the problem. The problem is you’ve been tackling them in a disorganized fashion, maybe switching from one task to another, or working on what feels more urgent at any point during the day.
In order to be more productive, and finally taming your endless to-do list, you need to organize these tasks, so they don’t take over your day. That way, you’ll find more time to do the things that will make a difference in your life.
Here are 5 strategies that will help you rethink your tasks and be more productive:
If it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done. Create a schedule for the different things you need to do, and allocate them in the different days of the week. Schedule tasks like paying bills, doing house chores, invoicing clients, writing reports, and so on, and give them a reasonable (but not too long) period of time to complete them. You can go one step ahead by mapping out your entire day, in 15 minute increments. That way, you’ll stay on task and focused.
When you do your tasks without a specific order, it’s a lot harder for your brain to focus. When you switch from one task to another, your brain must stop the processes required to perform the last task, and “switch on” the processes needed for the next task. After continuously doing this throughout the day, your brain starts to feel as if you were swimming through molasses. Even the smallest task seems daunting, and you start to get headaches and unnecessary stress. In order to “get in the zone” more easily, try batching your work, instead of haphazardly switching from one task to another. Take advantage of the previous hack, and schedule time within your day to make all your phone calls, process all your email, write your report for a substantial chunk of time, etc.
Multitasking is kind of like eating carbs: lots of people say it’s not good for you; but they still do it. Not all multitasking is counterintuitive, though. The key to effective multitasking is to know which task combination to make. For example, mixing two intellectual, more complex tasks, is not going to be efficient. Cognitive processes like reading, listening to a conversation or understanding a lecture, must be performed individually. In order to multitask efficiently, mix one intellectual task, with a more mechanical or physical one. For example, listen to an audio book or audio lessons, while cleaning your house, folding laundry, or tidying up your desk.
There are a lot of different tasks that can be automated. Take advantage of the resources you have on hand to automate everything you can, from categorizing emails with the use of filters, to paying your bills, backing up your phone photos to cloud storage, using a vacuum robot to clean your floors while you’re at work, or starting the coffee maker before you wake up with just the push of a button the night before. Make a more efficient use of your time by preferring options or services that will do the things you need automatically or remotely.
Make good use of your time, and think how you can invest it more wisely. For example, don’t spend your day off cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, making home repairs or running errands. Instead, outsource these services, and get your much needed rest. Most of the times, the providers of these services are way more efficient than you are at doing these things (that’s why they do it, it’s their business). Make a comparison between your hourly wage and the cost of hiring these services, to see if your time is worth the investment. You can then spend that time in the things no one can do for you.
These are 5 strategies you can easily implement today to start making good use of your time, be more productive, and accomplish your goals.
What other productivity hacks do you have under your belt? Tell us in the comments section below!