Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Trending in Focus

1 5 Simple Steps to Creating a Productive Daily Schedule 2 Can’t Focus? The Mistake You’re Making and How to Focus Better 3 7 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones For Productivity Boost 4 Why Making Yourself a Priority Boosts Your Productivity 5 How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on August 3, 2021

5 Simple Steps to Creating a Productive Daily Schedule

5 Simple Steps to Creating a Productive Daily Schedule
Advertising

These days, it’s harder than ever to focus on your daily tasks and stay productive. There’s just too much going on around us. Between endless social media notifications, mountains of emails, and the latest must-watch content on countless streaming media services, staying focused isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to maintain a productive daily schedule.

You might be shocked to find out that there are some simple tricks you can use to take back control of your day and get everything done. It all begins with organization. If you plan out your days in the right way—taking distractions into account in advance—you can eliminate some of the unexpected diversions that rob you of productivity.

Of course, you’ve got to commit yourself to following a schedule every day. And if you aren’t willing or able to do that, you can stop reading right here.

But if you are willing to learn what it takes to build a productive daily schedule, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to go over the five simple steps you can use to maximize your output, eliminate wasted time, and work at peak efficiency every day. If you’re ready to take back control of your day, let’s get started.

1. Discover Your Optimal Work Schedule

Before you can decide how to make the best possible use of your day, you need to understand how your physiology and personal work style play a role in your productivity.

For example, if you’re a morning person, it might be best for you to put your most important tasks right up front in your daily schedule. Conversely, it would be a disaster to leave those things for the end of the day.

But you can even go further than that.

Advertising

To discover your optimal work schedule, you must first collect some data. Start by tracking your work habits (whatever they currently are) for about two to three weeks. Make note of the times of the day when you get the most done, and log any external distractions that may be interfering in your work. The idea is to discover when you’re at your natural energy peak and filter out external factors working against you.

This accomplishes two things. First, it will help you to zero in on your most productive hours. Second, it will identify which distractions rob you of the most time. And once you know those two things, you will be in a much better position to build a schedule that maximizes your productivity.

2. Block Off Your Productive Time

After you’ve figured out what times of day are the most productive for you, the next step in creating your new schedule is to block off that time and reserve it for your most important work—and by blocking it off, I mean you have to arrange for those times to be distraction-free and preserved completely for working.

If that means you have to configure your Wi-Fi to shut off during those hours to keep from falling down the internet rabbit hole, so be it. If you have to set an auto-responder in your email to let everyone know they’ll have to wait for a response at a later date, do it. If you’ve got to turn to a time-locking app to prevent you from taking too many smartphone breaks, that’s fine, too.

In short, you need to create an environment where you can concentrate on the tasks at hand and see to it that you only have the tools you need to complete those tasks. Then, you can schedule your most important work each day into those time slots and you can be reasonably sure you’ll get all of it done.

If you think that’s extreme, let me assure you, it isn’t—and I can demonstrate why.

Just look at the repeated studies that indicate that the average worker is only productive for about three hours per day.[1] Now, go ahead and look back at your data from step one. I’d wager that you came up with average daily productivity that’s somewhere close to that number.

Advertising

If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading an article looking for the path to a more productive schedule. You’d be writing one, instead.

In any case, you should now understand why it’s so critical to jealously guard your most productive time in this way. By maximizing what you get done in those hours, you’re maximizing your total output. It’s that simple.

3. Schedule Appropriate Break Times

There is one thing—and one thing only—that you should allow to interrupt your most productive time: periodic breaks. As strange as it might sound, we tend to be most productive when we work in sprints. And even stranger, statistical analysis reveals that the ideal length of each work sprint is 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break.[2]

Yes, you read that right. And yes, this means you should allocate almost an hour of your standard 8-hour workday to doing non-work-related tasks. It will allow you to focus better during your work sprints and help you get more done. So, you don’t even have to feel guilty about it!

The best part is that this also holds during your less productive hours. That means you won’t be wasting the time before and after your peak productivity hours. And while you won’t be at peak efficiency, you’ll still get more done than you once did.

Before we move on, you might be wondering: isn’t this just the Pomodoro Technique by another name? The answer is—sort of.

That particular technique calls for working in shorter sprints—25 minutes, in fact—with even shorter breaks in between them. While it may boost productivity as well, it’s also quite difficult to build a schedule around. The reason for that is obvious: most peoples’ workdays include things like mandatory meetings and check-ins that last longer than 25 minutes (whether your schedule should include these is another matter we’ll get to momentarily). That means you’ll be trying to carve up your time in a way that can’t help but become inefficient.

Advertising

With a sprint time closer to a full hour, your options increase. You can cluster your 15-minute and half-hour meetings together to get them out of the way during one of your less productive hours and cluster your task-filled sprints together in your most productive periods. And once you get a handle on how long your average task length is, you’ll come to see why this works out well compared to the Pomodoro approach.

4. Schedule Availabilities in the Shortest Possible Windows

The trouble with what we’ve covered so far is that you won’t be working in a vacuum. That means co-workers, family members, and even phone scammers are going to do everything they can to interrupt your days and harm your productivity. They don’t mean to do it—except the phone scammers, of course—but the effect is the same either way.

To accommodate this, you’re going to have to schedule time in your day to deal with things like phone calls, face-to-face conversations, and email correspondence. But there are two tricks that can help you tame all of those time-draining tasks and keep them from overwhelming your day.

The first is to set aside specific times to handle such tasks and to let everyone around you know that you won’t be available at any other time. By doing this, you’re pre-empting many of the distractions that you’d otherwise have to deal with. If you warn others about your availability times in advance, you don’t have to feel bad about ignoring calls and emails as they come in—or sending them straight to voicemail or an auto-reply.

But none of that will stop people from making demands on your time, anyway. After all, you can’t eliminate every meeting from your schedule—even though there’s strong evidence to suggest you should try.[3] But what you can do is change the default conditions of those meeting requests.

To wit: if you have a calendar system where people can request meetings with you, try lowering the default meeting time in that system. This is possible in Google Calendar as well as in Microsoft Outlook, and likely other scheduling apps, too. Change your default to the shortest time that makes sense for your specific needs. For Elon Musk, this translates into 5-minute windows.[4] For the rest of us, something like ten or fifteen minutes should suffice.

The reason this works is that it forces people requesting your time to ask for more of it, instead of consuming it by default. And guess what? You’ll likely find that most people either won’t bother to ask or even notice that you’ve shortened your availability windows. That’s an instant time-saver for you.

Advertising

5. Avoid Multitasking at all Costs

Even though you may believe yourself to be an all-star multitasker, I have bad news for you—you’re not. Nobody is. Multiple studies have proven this again and again.[5] And the more you try to do it, the less efficient you’ll become. And you’re also likely to increase the number of errors you make in your work and have to waste even more time cleaning up your own mess.

From a daily scheduling perspective, the takeaway here is obvious. It’s that you should try to find a place in your schedule for every single necessary task you’re aware of, and try to avoid the temptation to squeeze unscheduled tasks into the mix. But you can do even better than that.

If you examine the reason that we humans are so bad at multitasking, you’ll find that it’s because our brains struggle to navigate switching between different types of tasks. This creates an effect that researchers call a switching cost, which means we unconsciously waste time fumbling to adapt to each new task. In other words, trying to complete two tasks at the same time will always take longer than doing them in succession.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage by scheduling similar tasks back-to-back in your individual work sprints. When you do, you’ll find that you’ll get more things done in each time window and waste much less time. When you add that time savings up over the course of a day, it’s a bigger deal than you think. Research indicates that switching costs rob us of up to 40% of our productivity, so reorganizing your task list in this way might almost double your productivity.[6]

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, then you should now know how to build yourself a daily schedule that maximizes your productivity. And if you can manage to stick to that schedule even as the world around you tries its best to get in your way, you’ll have a major advantage over your peers.

Just try not to gloat when you wrap up your work early and get back to your life while everyone else struggles to keep up. Instead, you should offer them your help with getting their schedules under control. They’ll be certain to appreciate some tips from an acknowledged expert.

More Tips on Daily Planning

Featured photo credit: Eric Rothermel via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

Read Next