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13 Simple Ways To Make Your Work Day Super Productive

13 Simple Ways To Make Your Work Day Super Productive

You are dead tired. Because no matter how many hours you put in and how hard you work, you can’t seem to keep up with your never-ending growing to do list. And to be quite honest, it’s wearing you down and beating the crap out of you. You know for a FACT that if you don’t pull yourself together NOW. It`s just a matter of time before you become BURNED OUT.

If that sounds familiar, no worries. I’ve been there too. Relax. Breathe. I got you covered.

The fact is that many people spend a lot of time on work, while usually the time isn’t really well-spent. Let me reveal the 13 simple ways to make your work day super productive.

1. Prepare your clothes the night before

The moment your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning, you should immediately get out of bed and start your morning routine. You DON’T want to waste your valuable time in the morning deciding on which clothes to wear. Prepare your clothes the night before.

To be quite honest, you don’t want to spend energy making unnecessary decisions. That is also why Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same clothes every day.

2. Plan your day the night before

The experts say that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution. In order to become super productive you should know EXACTLY which tasks you should be working on at any given time.

How can this be achieved? To plan in advance. I would strongly recommend you to plan one week ahead. This will save you a ton of time. In addition, instead of just responding to other peoples requests, you will have control over your schedule and week. More power to you – hurrah!

However, you should at least spend 15-30 minutes planning your day the night before. When it comes to planning, it’s smart to apply a system that works.

I would advice you to…

3. Use a master to do list

You should only have ONE to do list, and it should be your master to do list.

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Why do I call it a master to do list? Because it will contain ALL the activities that you need to do. If the activities aren’t included in your master to do list, they won’t get done.

Do you know what`s the most important thing with the master to do list? If you said, to always keep it up to date, you are completely correct. A high five to you! *SLAP*

When you plan your activities in your master to do list, it`s important that you…

4. Apply the ABCDE method and the 80/20 rule

Prioritize your tasks using the ABCDE method:

  • A tasks – are tasks that you must do today, if not they will give you serious consequences
  • B tasks – are tasks that you should do today, if not they will give you mild consequences
  • C tasks – are tasks that you could do today, if not they will give no consequences
  • D tasks – are tasks you delegate to other people
  • E tasks – are tasks you eliminate. You never do them.

When you start your work day you will always start with your A tasks, which are your most important tasks. The real trick is to never do a B task before you have completed all your A tasks, and never do a C task before you have completed all your B tasks. By following this system you will be working at your most income generating tasks at any given time.

Use the 80/20 rule to identify your most important tasks, which will be your A tasks. Pareto’s law says that 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the total production value. This means that if you have 10 tasks on your to do list today, and you ONLY complete the 2 most important tasks, they will give you 80% of the total result.

If you REALLY want to increase your productivity, you should definitely…

5. Get up 2 hours earlier

Studies have shown that most people are the most productive the first 2 hours after they get up from bed. That is why THAT time should be spent on your most important tasks.
This may of course vary from individual to individual. Some people are the most productive during the evening, while others are night owls. The key is to find out WHEN you are the most productive, and then block that time out for your most important tasks.

Two additional benefits of getting up 2 hours earlier, is that you get a head start and you will most likely have a quiet work environment. That is also why very successful people, like Richard Branson, gets up early in the morning.

After you have gotten out of bed, it’s smart to…

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6. Meditate for 5 minutes

You should meditate for 5 minutes. In addition to relaxing your mind and body, you should use the time to visualize your day. Imagine yourself go through the day and focus especially on important activities for that day, like giving a presentation. You should visualize yourself in third person. Play the picture in your head as a vivid movie with colors and sound performing your important tasks with great success.

That technique helped me to become a black belt in WTF Taekwondo in 2.5 years by only training 2 sessions per week. Average time to achieve a black belt is about 3.5 years with 3 or more training sessions per week.

No matter how busy you are, you should put aside time so you can…

7. Eat a proper breakfast

Yes, this may seem obvious, but not everyone eats a proper breakfast. And some people don’t eat breakfast at all.
Eat a healthy and proper breakfast. It doesn’t need to take long to prepare. 2 slices of bread with ham, cheese, tomatoes and a glass of milk will do the trick.

If you don`t have time to eat breakfast, at least take the breakfast with you, so you can eat it on the way to work. Your body is like a car. Would you expect your car to be able to perform at top level, if didn’t have any fuel? Nope, and neither will your body.

If you are really serious about taking your productivity to the next level, you should…

8. Work 2 hours before going to work

As mentioned in bullet point 5 above, the majority of people are the most productive the 2 hours after they get out of bed. Needless to say, this time should be spent on working on your most income generating tasks.

If it`s possible in your job situation, talk to your boss and suggest an arrangement where you will be working at home 2 hours before you go to work, and you can leave 2 hours earlier. You should present the proposal with the focus on what’s in it for your boss and the company. You could refer to the studies, telling him/her that you want to be able to produce more at work, so you can give the company a better return on investment (ROI) of your time. This will benefit both the company, your boss and you. As long as you are able to deliver high quality work, it shouldn’t really matter at WHICH location the work was performed.

This is the new way of thinking. Something that Tim Ferris is mentioning in his book “4 hour work week.” If you really want to optimize the use of your time, you should…

9. Spend your commute on learning

Since we all only have 24 hours in our lives, the difference between a very successful person and you, is HOW you have spent your time.

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Who said that time on the commute should be spent on reading newspapers, Googling trivial information or playing Candy Crush on your cell phone? Spend that time on listening to an audio book or a podcast that is about a SPECIFIC topic that will help you IMPROVE an important skill or LEARN knowledge that will give you an advantage to your work or business. This will make sure that you have gained another advantage to the majority of your competitors or coworkers.

Once you arrive at work, it`s important that you…

10. Make yourself unreachable at work

Yes, you read correct. If possible, you should isolate yourself and make yourself completely unreachable. The best way to get things done at work is when you are not being interrupted. Even though your coworkers probably are nice people, listening to their gossip, vacation plans and how many hot dogs they managed to eat at the last barbecue party, will NOT make you more productive. On the contrary, you should find a room or book a meeting room where you can work undisturbed. If you can`t remove yourself from the environment, you have to do your best to control it.

If no such spot is available, you can always politely ask your coworkers to keep their voice down, since you are working on a very important task. Then put in your earplugs and listen to some classical music, while you work focused. Focus will be the number one skill that alone can skyrocket your productivity.

You may be wondering about what to do when a gazillion of tasks falls into your lap during your work day. The short answer is…

11. When new important tasks occur prioritize FAST

Yes, no matter how well you plan your day, new tasks seems to magically appear from nowhere…ALL the time.

It can be really frustrating, right? The key is to be able to prioritize your task and put ALL the important tasks on your to do list and if needed, rearrange your currents tasks. Most B tasks and all the C tasks can be added later. In other words, what you need to do is to be able to identify the A tasks.

Example:

  • You are working 30 minutes on an A task on your to do list.
  • Then your boss tells you that an important client wants you to do 3 new tasks
  • You quickly categorize them as 2 B tasks and 1 C task
  • You continue to work 30 minutes on your A task
  • Then you dear boss arrives once more, this time giving you another task from his boss.
  • You quickly categorize the task to be a A task (even more important than the A task you are currently working on)
  • You rearrange the order and puts your boss`s boss task on the top and start working on it
  • When you are finished with that task, you start working on your previous A task
  • At the end of the work day, you will be adding the 2 B tasks and 1 C task to your master to do list

By doing this, you will be able to always be working on your most important tasks.

An activity that can easily cripple your productivity is constantly checking your emails. You should…

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12. Only check your email at specific times

There is no bigger time thief than checking your email and becoming sucked into the almost endless void of other peoples requests. You should ONLY check your email at specific times. Unless you are waiting on a very important email, checking your email 2 times a day should be enough.

If you work from 9 am to 5 pm, checking your emails could be done at 11 am and 4 pm. You will then be able to spend your 2 first hours (9-11 am) on your most important tasks (if you aren’t able to work the 2 first hours from home). Then you will check the email right before you go to lunch, and then again 4 pm, one hour before your workday is over.

You should give it a try. It will make you more relaxed, happy and more productive!

Then over to the last tip that most people will find the most challenging – start to…

13. Say no

You should immediately start saying no to unreasonable requests. Successful people are really good at saying no. Every time you say yes to doing an activity, you are automatically saying no to other activities, like spending time with your family or going for the evening run. Super productive people are also very good at saying no. Perhaps that is why most successful people are super productive?

It`s all about the eternal battle regarding our 24 hours each day. What do you spend them on? Are you spending them on activities that will bring YOU closer to your goals, building the life you want for you and your family?

Or do you spend your time saying yes to being a slave for other people`s unreasonable requests? Like helping your coworker, who is ALWAYS struggling with his / her deadline, and you will never get any credit for it, nor will your coworker return the favor. Or do you say yes to drive your neighbor’s kids to the mall, because they want new crayon colors so they can draw a unicorn?

You get the point. HOW you spend your TIME will determine your FUTURE.

What’s your best productivity tip?

Featured photo credit: Rob Hainer via depositphotos.com

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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