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Last Updated on February 9, 2021

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines

Are you one of those people who is always rushing to meet their deadlines and get their work done? If that’s the case, have you ever stopped to consider that perhaps something is wrong with your efficiency or time management? Learning how to work more efficiently is key if you want to use your time wisely and make space for the things that matter most in life.

This article will get you some practical tips on how to work more efficiently.

Why Is It Important to Become More Efficient?

Being unproductive can counter satisfaction and life goals in the long run. Before you even realize it, you will find yourself struggling to attain basic happiness in life, and you will find yourself engaged in a never-ending web of pending tasks.

Hence, in order to remain competitive at your workplace and be regarded as a valued human resource of your organization, it might be a good idea to pull up your socks and stop rushing to meet deadlines each time you have a project on your plate.

Here are some tips that will help you improve your game and become more enthusiastic and productive.

How to Work More Efficiently

Eliminate Unproductive Jobs From Your Schedule

This could mean that you need to shut down your phone while you are working or that you need to give up your Netflix subscription.

Only you can define what is it that takes away your attention and time while you are working. It is in your best interest to identify them and get rid of them as soon as possible.

Social media is one of the major distractors. If that is the case with you, find ways to keep yourself off the sites and devote your time to work instead.

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Set Small Goals and Deadlines

Meeting a bigger deadline with a huge workload might be tricky when you are trying to get yourself back on track. Instead, give yourself short term goals such as, “I am not going to use my phone for social media browsing for the next hour.”

Stick to these goals and find yourself at a happier place when you meet them. Slowly, this will put you in a habit of meeting your goals and preparing you to meet the most important deadlines.

Identify Jobs That Can Be Delegated

Delegate work to others and free up your time to attend important projects and tasks that only you can perform. You are likely part of a team of talented people, each with their own unique strengths. If you know of a person who could perform a specific task more efficiently than you, bring them on board to see if they would be willing to help[1].

Chances are your teammates will feel proud to be called upon for special tasks and will be happy to help in any case. Delegation, in the long run, is a great technique to use when learning how to work more efficiently.

Upgrade Your Skill Set

Upgrade your skill set to acquire knowledge and talent that will help you stand out from the rest of your fleet. This will help you perform your work with excellence and meet your targets on time.

You can do this by taking free courses online, reading relevant books or articles, or learning from a mentor.

Get the Important Jobs Done

This will keep your work on track and avoid the last minute rush to get the big stuff done. Once you’ve finished the important tasks and met those deadlines, you can move on to smaller tasks on your list with a greater sense of control and relaxation.

Prioritize Your Work

Attend to those jobs that require your attention immediately and save the remaining jobs for later in the day. This will help you stay updated with your task list and attend to priority jobs first.

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You will find that your schedule gradually eases up as you get your jobs done one by one.

9 Ways to Tackle Deadlines and Work Efficiently

No matter what your profession might be, every person struggles to meet deadlines at some point. Deadlines tend to create an immense load of stress on those who are bound to meet them.

Fortunately, for most of the hard working people out there, there are some common and useful tactics that can help you tackle even the scariest and tightest deadlines.

Before Starting a Project

Your aim to become more efficient and manage your deadlines should ideally emanate right from the time when you plan to start a project.

1. Set the Scope of the Project

Spending more time setting the scope of a project before starting will help you understand the context of work which you are required to undertake, which saves time and creates better work habits.This involves anticipating the volume of work that you need to complete before the deadline. While doing so, schedule in some extra time so that you’ll have space to tackle any unexpected challenges or complications to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

2. Think Twice

It makes sense to account for your existing projects before you commit to another one. All in all, at this stage, you are required to do everything that ensures that you have an ample amount of time to meet the required deadline.

As you’re learning how to work more efficiently, you must also learn how to say no when you already have too much on your plate. Don’t commit to something you won’t be able to finish.

During the Project

This is the stage when you are actually going to be doing everything to meet your deadlines and remain efficient at your job.

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3. Start as Soon as Possible

At this stage, your aim should be to focus on starting the job as soon as possible. Procrastination is a bane that can put you in a state of desperation as your deadline approaches. Waiting for the last minute to start a project can be counterproductive and put you behind before you’ve even begun, which results in wasted time.

If you often struggle with procrastination, check out this Lifehack Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

4. Focus on High-Priority Tasks

The best strategy that you can adopt at this stage is to do the important work at the top on your priority list. The most important and most difficult tasks must be done first.

Adopt time-management strategies to help you learn how to work more efficiently. Staying focused on your work goes a long way in making you a more productive person.

Also, keep your work area free of distractions, so that you are not pushed to divert your focus for something that isn’t important in the moment.

5. Track Your Progress

Time and again, you must take steps to track your progress and check what portion of your goals have been met in the process of completing your jobs. Give yourself short-term goals, as these are always easier to meet.

Alongside these short-term goals, make it a habit to check your daily progress, which will give you an idea of what you have accomplished and what remains.

6. Suspend Activities That Don’t Contribute to Your Goals

Try to understand the impact of activities, such as social media, which tend to disturb your focus, attention, and schedule.

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Shunning activities that distract you and keep you from completing work before the deadline is a good approach.

If necessary, call on team members to take on small tasks that aren’t helping you meet an impending deadline on a larger project so that you can focus on the task at hand.

After the Project Is Done

Simply submitting a project does not mean that your work is done. There are still some things that you can do to improve your efficiency and become a more productive person in the long run.

7. Submit Your Project Before the Deadline

This will make more time for other projects, which can then be completed on time as well.

Moreover, it gives you the added advantage of making an impression on the client or your boss. This way, you will be entrusted with further jobs, which is good for your career in the long term.

8. Confirm Receipt of the Project

Even in these times of technological advancement, there are chances of the client blaming you for non-receipt of the project within the stipulated time. Hence, the one thing which you must absolutely do after submitting your project is to confirm if it has been received by the client.

9. Get Feedback

Getting feedback on your work will help you analyze the overall quality of what you’ve completed[2]. Once you receive a positive response to your work, you will feel more motivated to meet your work deadlines in time.

Final Thoughts

Missing deadlines can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety that can ultimately turn into a bad habit once it takes root. Fortunately, there are things you can do at each stage of a project to overcome procrastination and learn how to work more efficiently.

It’s time to stop blaming time and start reflecting on what is wrong with your schedule, so that you can become a more efficient person and begin meeting your deadlines.

More on How to Work More Efficiently

Featured photo credit: krakenimages via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ankit Garg

Serial entrepreneur and working towards Early Retirement

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines 10 Best Ted Talks About Procrastination That Will Ignite Your Motivation How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships 17 Practical Money Skills that Will Set You Up for Early Retirement

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Published on February 23, 2021

How To Increase Focus At Work: 12 Brain Hacks

How To Increase Focus At Work: 12 Brain Hacks

Knowledge was what once separated the rich and successful from the rest of the pack. The internet combined with the iPhone leveled the playing field. Then came along social media and put people in touch from all corners of the world. Now, Clubhouse is rewriting all the rules again. While our knowledge grows exponentially, sadly, our focus doesn’t. We must learn—as Warren Buffet does—to “say no to almost everything”. The key to success isn’t how to learn more, but how to increase focus.

The working-from-home model (WFH) wasn’t something many companies embraced just a short time ago. Today, Covid-19 has made WFH ubiquitous. With it, all sorts of challenges have arisen and companies and individuals alike are still adjusting to the new normal.

Pre-Covid, people had to deal with distractions at the office from walk-ins, colleagues asking for assistance, office gossip, and the likes. Today’s environment, for many people, is completely different. Isolated at home, a lack of focus can’t be blamed on your micromanaging boss, obnoxious coworkers, or persistent customers. At home, your focus is entirely in your hands now. So, what can you do about it?

Here are 12 different ways you can increase your focus.

1. Exercise

Get your day started right by getting the blood flowing. In Japanese, companies used to have their employees start their mornings with some light exercise. Stretching, yoga, or easy calisthenics are all that’s needed. Exercise does so much good for our bodies and mind.

According to the Harvard Medical School, exercise “reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.”[1]

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2. Monotask

Multitasking was a cute catchphrase that sounded as if you were able to get more done in less time. Science says that’s dead wrong. By jumping from one task to another, our brain needs time to restart.

According to psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, author of CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life,

“multitasking is shifting focus from one task to another in rapid succession. It gives the illusion that we’re simultaneously tasking, but we’re really not. It’s like playing tennis with three balls.”

Therefore, to increase focus, simply monotask. By limiting your mind to a single topic, you create a laser-like ability to cut through it.

3. Chunking

While we might not be able to multitask, we can do two activities simultaneously if they use different parts of our brain. That’s why we can drive and listen to podcasts at the same time and keep control of our cars—driving has become internalized. Watching TV while doing your exercise routine is another prime example.

While chunking doesn’t qualify as something that will increase focus, what it does is free up time that we can use for other tasks. Good time management means having the ability to do more. When we have so much on our plate, getting through it all can be daunting. But by chunking activities, we kill two birds with one stone.

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4. Music

You might not think music can increase our focus, but you’d be wrong. A study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, done in 2007, states that music, specifically classical music, can help your brain absorb and interpret new information more easily.[2] If you’re looking for an easy way on how to increase focus, Mozart or Beethoven have got you covered.

5. Nature

David Strayer is a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah who specializes in attention. He’s also an avid backpacker, and he talks about something called the “3-day effect.” He demonstrated with a group of Outward Bound participants that after three days of a wilderness backpacking adventure, they performed 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks.[3]

According to him, “on the third day, my senses recalibrate – I smell things and hear things I didn’t hear before.” So, if you’ve been cramped up in your house during the lockdowns, a trip to the Great Outdoors might be just what the doctor ordered.

6. Mingle

The effects the lockdowns have had on our mental health have been severe. Isolating people isn’t good for us. We’re social animals. We need to get out and mingle. While we often view chit-chat as a mindless, time-wasting activity, it does have its benefits. Talking to different people exposes our minds to new and fresh ideas as well as alleviate stress. The less stress we have, the more we can focus.

7. Sleep

The simplest and easiest way to increase focus is having good old-fashioned sleep. Too many of us have gotten accustomed to cutting hours off our sleep to be able to watch another episode of Game of Thrones or get to the next level in the Spiderman: Miles Morales on the PlayStation 5.

None of us can operate at optimum levels for long periods of time without a good night’s rest. Short term, we might be able to get away with it, but over time the effects add up. In essence, by denying yourself sleep, you are denying your body the rest it needs to realign itself.

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8. Diet

The food we eat is the fuel for our bodies. A Ferrari can only perform its best with quality gasoline. The same can be said for our bodies, yet it seems too many people don’t connect the two.

While the vegetarian diet is certainly healthy, I prefer to take a more balanced approach. Fish, meat, and pork all provide us with amino acids essential for health. I compliment my proteins with a variety of vegetables and carbohydrates. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Ever since I focused on creating a more balanced diet, I have not lost a day of work.

9. Cooking Timers

It sounds rather silly until you’ve tried it, but force yourself to work on one task for a solid 30 minutes—no interruptions of any kind. You’ll be amazed at how hard it is for us to do that. We have gotten so used to jumping from one browser tab to another. We happily bounce around on the internet whenever we see something that catches our eye. It’s amazing how much time we flutter away without knowing it. A cooking timer is your commitment to give a single task your undivided attention.

10. Switch Things Up

While I have spoken about focus, monotasking, and timers, we have to understand that there are times when we just get stuck. It’s at moments like that we need a change of scenery. It’s no use beating a dead horse.

There are days when our creative juices just aren’t flowing. At times like this, it’s better to just get your mind completely off what you’re doing. Clear your mind by doing something completely different. That breather will give your mind time to reboot itself. Playing a video game, reading a book, or doing something completely different from what you usually do can work. It’s amazing how, by simply switching things up, we can increase our focus.

11. Go for a Walk

Something as simple as going for a walk can be just what the doctor ordered. In fact, under the current circumstances of work-from-home, it’s something we all need to do more of.

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There were days when my wife didn’t go outside for days on end. She’d start going stir crazy. Going for a walk—away from technology—and breathing in the fresh air can make a world of difference to someone stuck at home.

12. Deadlines

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted. Put simply, we adjust our work to the time available for its completion.

Say you’re told to finish a project by next Tuesday. Most people will get it done by next Tuesday. Unlike school where we have the eager beavers, as adults, we have so much on our plate so we put off things that do not need our immediate attention. So, if you want to increase focus, simply bring in the time frame.

Don’t allow yourself to put things off and instead, attack them head-on. Combined with the other techniques and strategies outlined in this article, you’ll be able to rip right through things.

Conclusion

Focus, not knowledge, is the key to success in today’s world. Unfortunately, so many things are competing for our focus and attention. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and the new kid on the block—Clubhouse—are all vying for your attention, not to mention our friends, family, and colleagues.

It’s a battle for your mind, and you are in the driver’s seat. Armed with these 12 brain hacks, you’ll be able to win more wars than you lose.

More Tips on How to Increase Your Focus

Featured photo credit: Chase Clark via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: Exercising to relax
[2] Stanford Medicine: Study shows different brains have similar responses to music
[3] National Geographic: This Is Your Brain on Nature

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