Have you ever felt like you could have accomplished more in a day than you actually did?
Or have you piled up your work for the next day unnecessarily just because you were too caught up with social media?
Maybe you’re just too overwhelmed with the amount of work, and the increased stress is not letting you begin with what needs to be done.
We’ve all been there. These are the most common issues we’re facing in this day and age because, of course, we are so caught up with our smartphones, that we forget to give our bests to the things that pay for it.
Question yourself if you are satisfied with the work you do for the day, and whether you accomplish your daily goals without being too dazed by them, on time for the deadlines.
To help you leave your office feeling more content, accomplished, and less drained, here are a few tips that might come handy to make your job done more effectively and efficiently.
We all have our very own ways of coping up daily, and they sure might be sub-optimally working too, but there is no harm in learning new techniques and bringing them to use.
To help you leave the office feeling more accomplished, use these 5 mental tools for getting hyper-productive without working more
1. Do not rely on your memory
“Life is too complicated not to be orderly.”
— Martha Stewart
When you are working on a task, you happen to remember a thing or two that needs to be done soon after. Write them down immediately! Human memory is a limited resource and you surely have a thousand different things to remember in a single day.
If you try to keep every task in your memory alone, you will end up with unfinished tasks and way too much distraction. Don’t waste your energy on trying to remember everything you need to do, list it down instead. This will help you track what’s done, and prioritise the rest. It also helps you plan better by processing your ideas and breaking them down into smaller action steps.
Avoid making the list on your phone because phones can get distracting most of the times, hindering your speed of work. Keep a simple pen and a pad, or a planner as you like, and note things down.
Alternatively, you can use a project management tool like Asana or Trello. They make it easy to capture tasks as and when they come up during the day without you having to think about them.
It sounds simple but you would be amazed how much this alone can boost your productivity.
2. Plan Your Day Ahead: Write down three of the most important tasks every morning
“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.”
— Franz Kafka
Starting your day by planning it makes your life much more organized leaving no space for the biggest productivity killer: ambiguity.
Take time every morning to write down the top three priority tasks of the day and no more than that. If you see too many priorities lying in front of you, it will seem overwhelming and you might start to procrastinate instead of getting to them. Plus, 90% of the time the task takes double the time than we would first expect.
Note them down in a very clear and descriptive way.
Let’s take the task of comparing hotels for booking your trip as an example of a task for the day. Instead of saying “research hotels”, write something like “review and compare x, y, z hotels”. This prevents you from drifting to the semi-related tasks, ultimately leading to no actual accomplishment.
Before you start working on it, see if you can break it down into smaller tasks. We often mistake projects and subproject with specific tasks we are able to act upon. For example, “plan birthday party” is not a task. It’s a project you can further break down into create a list of attendees, send invitations, order cake, etc.
Take a look at your current to-do list and see if you can break your responsibilities into smaller chunks! It will give you a lot of clarity when you see what you actually need to do and you can start working on them with less pressure.
3. Take up only one task at a time
“It’s not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know.”
— Tony Robbins
Multitasking is a complete myth.
It has been a nice-sounding concept that became trending in job descriptions in the past two decades. It feels like a time saver when in reality, it completely kills your productivity.
Taking up multiple tasks at the same time and trying to juggle them all together makes it impossible to do any of them right. It also leaves you drained of energy, and you start wasting your time big time without even realizing it.
Science has proven that when we do multiple things at the same time, we’re actually just shifting our attention very fast between them. In reality, the human mind can only focus on one thing at a time.
Multitasking only works when you do something that comes automatic and doesn’t require any of your focus e.g. walking and talking, cooking and listening to a podcast, or running on a treadmill and watching Netflix.
In the workplace, it’s rather counterproductive.
Stay focused by doing only one thing at a time and stick to it until you finish it. This means resisting random requests coming your way, turning off notifications on your phone, closing your inbox, and protecting your space from distractions.
4. Learn to say “no”
“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?”
— Henry David Thoreau
Learn to keep your task a priority. Don’t agree upon “small favors” that your co-workers happen to pass on to you until you haven’t finished what you’re currently working on.
Saying “no” is not easy. We feel like we reject our team members or our boss and let them down if we don’t say yes. But to increase your productivity levels, you need to be less available for everybody all the time.
If you stay adamant about it, they will learn that you’re disciplined about your tasks and they cannot just approach you with anything at any time of the way. Help them understand by explaining how important your focus is to you and how much you want to do a great Job at what you’re doing.
A simple “I’m busy at the moment, let’s talk at this specific time” is enough for them to respect your time more. If it is your boss, tell him or her that you have already a lot of your plate and if you need to take up what they ask you to do, you will need to remove something else from your list.
This way, you will appear more cooperative and they will be aware of your capacity as well.
It is completely professional and it gives your boss an idea of how many things you’re handling so that they won’t be dropping new tasks on you without considering your current workload.
If you are a keen reader and have trouble saying no, have a look at the book “The Power of NO” by James Altucher.
5. Put the Pomodoro Technique in Use
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
— Peter Drucker
Developed in the late 1980s, by Francesco Cirillo, the idea behind this technique is to break down your time spent with work into time blocks of 25 minutes each.
You get to have a five-minute break between each block, and after completing four of these time blocks, or “Pomodoros”, you can take a longer break of say 15-30 minutes. It’s been proven that the more breaks we take during our work, the more productive we are when getting back to it. But only if we completely turn off during those breaks without looking at our phones and laptops and we completely focus on our work when it’s time to do so.
This strategy is a hit as you are completely focused upon one task and do not try to multitask. Parkinson’s law says that we fill up the time available for us to do something no matter if it’s 25 or 125 minutes. When you know that your clock is ticking, the urge to check for messages, emails or Facebook notification is chucked out. You are in the right “zone” and focused
This technique will help you with the following:
- Elimination of the bad habit of multi-tasking
- Focusing completely on the task at hand.
- Getting comparatively more things done because due to the sense of urgency.
- Helps you avoid the perfectionist mindset by excessively “fine-tuning” a project.
- Increases levels of willpower and concentration.
- Decreases stress levels.
If you have been struggling with productivity at the office or while working on your side projects, these simple tips can help you break the rut and lead a life that reeks of real value and valour.
These tips may sound too simple to be true but once you start implementing these, you’ll see a drastic change in your work performance. Your motivation will increase and you’ll be able to effortlessly master the art of managing your projects and being at your productive-best round the clock.