Whilst we may slip straight from a quick breakfast to logging onto virtual meetings these days, what has not changed is that generally, we all have too much planned with too little time to accomplish anything. This makes us less effective, as we forget things, get stressed and often fail to tick as much off our to-do list as we’d like to by the end of the day (or night).
But not for much longer! Luckily, productivity is a skill that we can all learn and master, and our handy guide will help you to become more efficient and effective, eliminating the need for mayhem and madness in your life. Here’s how to do it, in just five easy steps.
Schedule 20% more time
One of the things that can help you plan and perform your activities is to set extra time aside in your day. Schedule time at the start of the day, week or month to carry out your activities, and when you do, make sure you pencil in 20% extra time. This way you can be sure that you will complete each activity according to your schedule, which helps you to remain calmer and more in control during the execution of the day’s demands.
Work in blocks of the same activities
The more you do something, the easier it becomes. When planning your activities, try to take into account what kind of activity it is. Plan those that are related to each other, one after the other. While at work, plan your calls together, answer several emails one after the other, and make the time to chat to colleagues in one ‘block’. Don’t jump around, as this way you will have the right focus and you will get into a good rhythm for each activity.
Schedule three 'check' moments
To ensure you do not deviate from your schedule during the day and to be able to make adjustments where necessary, it is smart to schedule three ‘check’ moments into your day. To do this, ask yourself at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the day whether everything is still going according to plan. Look at the tasks you had planned and how far you are in completing them as certain unanticipated activities often intervene and shift your schedule off course. The scheduling of 20% extra time can help with this but sometimes it is necessary to simply adapt during the day. If this is the case, ask yourself which of the unplanned activities are the most important, and what can be postponed to a later time.
Do one thing at a time and finish it
Many people multitask but research shows that this actually makes you 25% less effective. Try to focus on finishing one thing at a time. Make sure you are as minimally distracted as possible by other factors, so ignore your email and put your phone on silent if you have a proposal to complete. If the activity at hand is one you can finish entirely, then get it done, once and for all. This will give you peace of mind and the opportunity to start afresh with the next item on your to-do list.
Write down what you were doing
If you are in the middle of something but are continually being interrupted by colleagues and unexpected calls, it is often because there is something urgent that requires your expertise. In these instances, first assess whether what is interrupting your current task is more important or not. If it can’t wait, write down what you were doing so that you can easily pick up where you left off. But for those colleagues that just want to chat – well then it is time to close your door or put an informal catch-up in for a later time slot!
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