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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on October 4, 2021

How to Stay on Task And Avoid Distractions

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How to Stay on Task And Avoid Distractions

It has become more challenging to stay on task and avoid distractions. Unfortunately, the great benefits of today’s technologies have also become the biggest enemies of focused action. The pandemic has, of course, made its own corrections in the way we manage our time, business, family, and life. Did you know that the time-tracking market will increase worldwide by roughly 21 percent by 2025?[1]

With more and more distractions appearing in our daily lives, it’s understandable that people keep pushing themselves to squeeze every minute out of the day. But only a few realize that outside distractions are fairly easy to avoid compared to our inner triggers.

Mistakenly, we blame only outside distractions, thinking that they mess with our ability to stay on task and make it almost impossible to avoid them. However, our inner triggers are what play the biggest role in focused and productive action. While external triggers are cues from our environment that tell us what to do next, inner triggers are cues from within us. For example, when we’re hungry, we are cued to get something to eat and so on. Understanding what kind of trigger is pursuing you to take certain actions will help you determine the best solution to stay on task.

While distractions are everywhere, it’s not impossible to minimize them. Distractions itself is a topic long, wide, and deep enough for a book at least. On Amazon alone, there are more than 9000 books with a “distraction” on the cover. This once again proves our need for solid tools, systems, and new approaches to help us stay on task and avoid distractions.

Here is my formula for you to stay on task. It is not your typical “turn off your phone” and “close your emails” type of list. This formula has been crafted over years of experience, research, and knowledge. It looks deeper than external pings, rings, and dings.

I aim to give you a different perspective on how you are managing your time, attention, and decision-making. If used with one mind and willingness to truly build a skill to stay on task, this formula might be just the right read for you.

1. Manage Your Attention Before Trying to Manage Your Time

We can manage our time better if we can manage our attention. Time management depends a lot on attention, focus, and flow management, rather than planning and scheduling. Although technical support is a big part of focused action, if we lack prioritizing and attentiveness, we will eventually waste time one way or the other and make it difficult for us to stay on task. Therefore, getting clear on our intention behind the task is crucial for staying on it and not getting distracted.

Do you want to be more productive and feel good about what you accomplish at the end of the day? Do you want to have time to learn a new skill, building a better service so you can create more impact? Do you want to protect yourself from distraction, unwanted information, and more wasted time? Whatever your reasoning, if you can focus, you can get more important things done in less time. In that way, the focus is the ultimate “productivity hack.”

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We all have the same 24 hours. But what matters more than the length of time you put into a task is the intensity of focus because if you have an intensity of focus, you can reduce the amount of time spent doing it to get the same or better results. Even if you’re not in a state of flow, focus helps you get more out of the day.

A study from the University of California at Irvine found that, on average, participants (who worked in the tech field) could only work on a project for 11 minutes before being distracted. What’s worse is that it took them more than 25 minutes to regain their focus.[2]

Focus keeps you productive. It’s what determines whether you do what you want to or spend the day distracted. But it goes much deeper than this.

Being focused allows us to choose the life we want to live, not just react to what’s happening around us. So, let me give you some ideas on how to increase your attentiveness. If you want to improve your focus, you have to do more than just make yourself pay attention. Focus is as much about what you’re paying attention to as what you’re blocking out because unfortunately, the world around us is incredibly distracting and it makes challenging for our brain to focus on a task.

Learn How to Take Control of Your Technologies

There is no escaping from technology, but we need to understand that it is here to serve us, not the other way around. Many of the default settings on our devices are set to take our attention away, and it’s up to you to change them.

Create a Focus-Friendly Work Environment

This plays a massive role in your ability to focus., yet most of us don’t think much of it. Getting rid of clutter, organizing your stuff so you don’t waste time trying to find things, avoiding outside noise and unnecessary interruptions are what will help you stay on task.

Stop Multitasking

If you haven’t heard it enough times already, multitasking is a myth. When we try to do more than one thing at a time, we’re just quickly switching back and forth between the tasks. This isn’t very efficient, and it makes us more stressed. Even worse, the more you multitask, the more your brain looks for more things to do at once. It’s like your training your brain to be unproductive. However, focusing on one task at a time rebuilds your focus, lowers stress, and can even make you more creative.

2. Declutter Your Mind as Well as Your Desk

Clear space creates a clear head. It increases productivity and saves us from distractions. But clearing your desk is very technical. It’s fairly easy doable and repeatable. If you have a system in place that you love, you would only have to declutter once, and then you would just follow your path where clutter gets thrown away regularly. This allows for constant rotation of creative energy giving you space to evolve.

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However, a tidy space actually can keep you on the task only for that long. It can give you only that much of a clear head and distraction-less space. While it immensely helps to shift the energy, it will not keep you distraction-less forever, and this is where your mindset comes in. The “clear space creates clear head” is only partly true.

Clear space gives us more clear mind for that moment, but this is not your long-term solution. If you would have managed to keep your workspace clean, clutter-free, you would still have thoughts. According to research, an average person has 6000 thoughts every day![3]

Will a decluttered space be able to help you with all of them? No! But this is where the mindset work comes in. No tool, tip, trick, or hack will be able to solve your timing or focus issues. Only you can do that because you are the one in charge of your time, your commitments, your schedule, your plan, and also your mind.

If you ever tried to meditate, you know that it takes time to clear your head from thoughts, calm the mind, and thrive in presence. And it is definitely one practice that can help you understand how your mind works. If you are having difficulty staying on task, then it’s time to look for the cause.

If you think that another great new productivity app will solve your problems and you will finally be able to stay on task, it will not support your long-term vision. Yes, it might help for a month or two, but then what? Are you willing to go back and search for other solutions while your to-do list keeps growing and your time freedom is non-existent?

It is great to start by decluttering the mind. Support it with decluttered space on your way to great focus and productive work. Ask yourself: What is blocking you from undivided attention? Have you ever thought that you could be keeping yourself busy to feel worthy of your income? It’s a clue to your limiting beliefs! Imagine if you could replace that with a success mindset, how would your focus increase? It’s taking one mindset block at a time and working through it.

3. Work on Your Pain

What does pain have to do with focus? We waste our time when we get distracted, and we get distracted all the time. Imagine how much you would be able to achieve if you would stay focused on the task for that scheduled time, commit to that task and get it done. Who knows? You might even finish it in half the time you planned.

But let me explain to you something about pain. We allow ourselves to get distracted because it’s our decision to check that ping, ring, and ding. We decide to focus somewhere else when that ring comes knocking. We make that choice because of the pain. We feel discomfort, and we all love comfort, right? Our natural way of avoiding pain and discomfort is what makes us lean towards distractions rather than stay on task. It’s worth looking deeper and understand what are the underlying issues that you’re trying to avoid when distracted.

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Working on that pain will help you stay focused and committed to even the hardest of tasks. If you’re committed to your growth in all areas, it’s up to you to stay on task even when you don’t feel like it.

I challenge you to look where that pain is coming from that causes you to get distracted. Find it, and let it go so you can be attentive, present, and focused.

4. Rewrite Your Habits

We are in charge of building our success habits, so what are you working on today to allow yourself to stay on task with as little effort as possible? Below are the most common distracting habits that probably have been creeping into your daily routine as well.

Stop Adding Things to Your To-Do List

To-do lists give you too much flexibility, too much freedom of choice, and too much space for procrastination to creep in. Everything you’re planning to do, schedule it in your calendar instead. Plan your tasks, and put timing next to every task. Like that, you will create space for important tasks, prioritize wiser, and won’t be able to overbook your time.

If you think about it, putting your tasks into your calendar creates well-deserved peace of mind, gives you much more freedom, and keeps you productive. You’re no longer overshadowed by your never-ending to-do list that keeps growing by minutes and never gets completed. Staying committed to your calendar is a part that can’t be avoided if you want to stay on task. If it’s on your calendar, you have already committed to doing it. You have already decided that something is important enough to get on our calendar, so it’s worth your focus.

Stop Notifying Yourself and Scrolling Your Screen

Checking notifications, emails, messages as they come in. That “beep” sound distracts you in a fraction of a second, but unfortunately, it takes much longer to get back into your creative flow after an innocent “I will just quickly check-it might be urgent.”

For better productivity, you should set certain times when you allow yourself to check emails and it should not be more than twice a day. Seriously, it is enough times (I’m talking from experience). Scrolling through social media is nothing new, yet it still is the biggest time-waster. You get sucked into random posts only to realize that another 20 minutes have passed without creating results for your future. Mind your own business (literally), and create before you consume.

Stop Acting Like You’re Superhuman

Multitasking is not an admirable ability, it’s destructive behavior. You have probably heard about it, but let me remind you again: trying to do more than one thing at a time diminishes your productivity. The human brain simply isn’t designed to multitask. Your brain slows down as it switches between tasks, which takes more time and makes you less efficient.

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Focusing on one thing at a time will make you more effective. If you’re taking too many breaks, you end up lingering and not getting your focus back. Schedule your break to keep yourself in check and focused. Too many breaks lead to more wasted time. Oftentimes, it means working when exhausted. All it does is create more exhaustion and more mistakes. You may also end up facing burnout.

Do yourself a favor and make sleep a priority. The time you spend resting will pay off when you’re awake and ready to take on the world. Once you are clear on what wasted your time, create a to-don’t list to get clear on things you know you should not be doing.

5. Find Traction

We are used to thinking that the opposite of distraction is focus—where we are fully present, attentive, and focused on what it is that we are doing. But the opposite of distraction is actually “traction,” and traction from Latin is an action that pulls you towards what you want to do. So, distractions are actions that pull you away from what you want to do, and tractions are actions that move you towards what you want to do. This means that any action can be either a distraction or traction depending on what you intend to do with your time.

There’s nothing wrong with scrolling through your Facebook feed, watching YouTube videos, or playing a video game, as long as that’s what you intend to do. It’s when you do things unintentionally that you get into trouble. When you get pulled away from what you need to do to avoid discomfort, to avoid that hard work or that pressure dealing with a specific task, that’s when you allow yourself to get distracted.

So, if you’re asking if it’s possible to avoid distractions, the answer is yes. But you don’t want to do it! You want to notice these moments of discomfort and understand what causes you to get distracted. What are you trying to avoid? Why are you letting yourself get pulled away from things that you need to do?

If we dig deeper, we can see things for what they are, including ourselves, our believes, our thoughts, and anything that sabotages our focus without us realizing it.

Final Thoughts

Distractions are a very wide range of things. They are everywhere, looking for you to bring your attention to them. The good news is that you can stay on task if only you choose to. You are in charge, and now that you have a better insight into your triggers, it will hopefully allow you to get less distracted and more focused.

No matter what your distractions are, you are in control of your time, what you do with it, and where you spend it. Be sure to keep that control in your hands.

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Featured photo credit: Surface via unsplash.com

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