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Published on January 2, 2019

9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity

9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity

When you’re hungry to grow, expand and drink deeply of life, you want to be as productive as possible. And with so many choices of how to drink deeply of life, we can add a lot to our plate. Enter multitasking management that will improve your productivity.

It starts, innocently enough, with inspired action and a will to accomplish, build and fulfill what’s in our heart or mind to create. But if we’re not careful, it quickly turns into being buried in work and delayed outcomes rather than the productivity we thought we were creating.

Let’s be clear on what we mean by multitasking before we get into the tips on how to improve your productivity. Managing multiple tasks simultaneously actually impairs productivity. And your quest to be more productive will come down to how well you can focus on the task at hand. To divert your attention away from the task at hand will only make it take longer.

In The One Thing by billionaire Gary Keller, he says

“Extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

You need to focus on the vital few tasks, not the trivial many, that will get you to your goal.

So let’s agree that by “multitasking”, we mean the many tasks you have to do, not doing them simultaneously. This article is about how we manage the many tasks we have to do in such a way that we improve our productivity in both quantity and quality so we can live the life we’ve envisioned living.

1. Adjust Your Expectations

I’ve found that the more projects I take on, the more tasks I have to manage. That sounds obvious but it’s a critical distinction. Most people take on way too much and have impossible expectations that they can get it all done.

With every project comes more details than we can predict. If you’re not careful, you’ll take on too many projects that bury you in tasks you have no hope of managing.

I did this a ton in my twenties. It was exciting to dream of all that I wanted. I would dabble in a handful of ideas and then move on to the next when I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. From the outside, it might have looked like I was “multitasking”, but I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go.

The downside of dabbling with all these ideas was that I started to see myself as someone who couldn’t produce a result. It erodes your confidence when you take on a ton of projects and then can’t move any of them to the place you had in your mind to take them.

So this first tip is a big one because it will impact your ability to manage whatever other tasks you choose to put on your plate. Choose wisely.

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2. Choose Wisely

You can’t do it all. You know that. But what’s the threshold of what you can do? It’s a lot less than you think, which means you have to choose wisely the tasks you take on to produce the most you can in the time you give it.

When launching my marketing agency I had to do most of the tasks. And as our clients grew so did the tasks I had to manage. I waited longer than I should have to find help and this cost me a loss in growth during the time I held on to all the tasks. It also caused stress that impacted my ability to focus and show up as the best version of myself. I had to find the vital few tasks that would grow my company. I had to choose wisely what I would spend my time on.

Once you have chosen the vital few tasks you will manage, you will either have to make peace with letting the other tasks go or outsource them to someone else.

3. Outsource

Focused on the vital few, my company began to grow again and I found myself buried in more tasks than I could handle. This is the nature of success.

As your productivity grows, so does your to-do list. It was clear I couldn’t multitask my way out of this one and continue to grow. So I began to build my team of contractors I could outsource my growing list of details to.

This is an important tip because many of us never ask for help. If we work for someone else, it’s easy to think we’re a better team player if we can show that we can do it all.

If you own your own business, it’s easy to think you can’t afford the help you need. And so, we get buried in the details and read articles about multitasking, hoping they’ll provide some answers or relief about how we can get more done in our already overloaded schedule.

Delegating and outsourcing to good contractors has become so much easier as more and more talented people step into the gig economy. At my company, we use Upwork.com on a daily basis. We have also used Fiverr.com and the many resources available in the Envato marketplace. In this day and age, you don’t have to do it all yourself. There is an entire ecosystem you can outsource to and it costs a lot less than you think.

Moreover, it’s costing you much more in lost productivity to shoulder it all and not outsource. By outsourcing, you can refocus on managing the list of the vital tasks that move the needle toward your desired outcome.

4. List Management

I always carried my action items in my head, until it was so full that I had to write it onto pages in my journal or nearby sticky notes. But those ideas and to-do’s got lost over time forcing me into a pattern of reacting to whatever showed up in my day. Reacting is not a great place to produce from.

I needed a better way to manage my growing list of tasks so they were all in one place. My agency had been using Trello to manage our client projects and so I decided to try it for housing my list of to-dos.

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    Trello works well because it’s flexible. You can create what they call “Boards”. We have a Trello board for our tier 1 clients and a separate board for our tier 2 clients. We have a Trello board for all our Leads and a Trello board for Operations. I also created a board for my own list of to-dos.

    Inside a board, you create “Lists”. Some of my team create lists for tasks around priority level like “High Priority”, “Mid Priority”, and “Low Priority”.

    I found what worked best for me was to create lists based on time. My lists are labeled “Today”, “This Week”, “This Month”, “This Quarter”, “This Year”, and “The Future”. I move products and tasks into and out of these different lists based on when I need to focus on them.

    I also created a list in my board that says “Brain Dump” where I can quickly open my Trello app, open that board and just dump ideas or to-do’s quickly and then drag them to the appropriate list later.

    Inside lists, you can create “Cards”. Cards allow you to create checklists, due dates, descriptions, and comments. You can tag team members and add color-coded labels. While I don’t use all these features in cards, I find that it allows me to organize my thoughts about a particular task and continue adding as more ideas or items come up for that task.

    Having one place to collect, organize and manage all your ideas and to-do’s is critical if you want to manage multiple tasks.

    As you manage your list of to-do’s you’ll see similar activities you can lump together and knock out in a “batch”.

    5. Batching

    In the beginning months of my startup, I would do everything all the time. I was just trying to figure out all the moving pieces and respond to what was urgent. But as the work piled on, I found certain kinds of work required certain kinds of focus and energy. Responding to emails, was different than creating meaningful social posts and updating Trello cards was different than taking time for vision and planning.

    Enter batching. Batching lumped similar tasks into a condensed time frame which allowed me to get more done on those particular types of tasks by using the energy those tasks required.

    My company does done-for-you content marketing where we interview our clients for their own podcasts. Each interview we do has an entire checklist of tasks to complete.

    In the beginning, I would record an interview with a client for their podcast. As soon as the interview was over, I would get up from my computer and walk away just to get different energy, leaving the episode title, the description we used for their YouTube channel, and updating our Trello list for later.

    It took so much longer to come back to those tasks, having to remember what we talked about and get back into the frame of mind to complete that episode. So, I started batching all those tasks at the end of the interview. Not only did the work get done faster, I felt lighter not carrying around all the undone tasks in my head.

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    Batching is a powerful practice. You can start by simply batching one kind of task with another. Take it slow. See how it feels. Play with it. The whole goal is to increase output and minimize interruptions

    6. Interruption Management

    Interruptions are one of the biggest killers of productivity. Multitasking is no match for constant interruption and communications can be one of the primary culprits of this lost productivity. This applies whether you work in an office with others, at home by yourself or have a virtual team.

    As our virtual team grew, we had to find ways to communicate daily around projects, fulfillment, and ideas. Talk about being pulled away from productivity. I would spend an hour to two hours a day just responding to communications in email, text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Trello, Voxer and Slack.

    We added tools like Slack and Trello to streamline communication, but I found myself getting pulled into chat threads every hour with notifications lighting up my phone. Realizing I couldn’t focus on the vital few if I was constantly pulled into the weeds of my business, I had to create some boundaries for myself and with my team around how and when I would use these communication tools.

    Set boundaries with the people in your life by letting them know when you’re available and when you’ll respond to their communications. Turn off the push notifications on your phone or set your phone in airplane mode during productive times. You don’t need to be unreachable all day. You just need to protect your focus during tasks that require it.

    7. Prepare

    One of the hacks that allowed me to batch all the work at the end of a client interview was, having all the tools and tabs open on my computer that I needed to quickly complete the tasks. That sounds obvious in hindsight, but sometimes when we’re buried in all the tasks we’re trying to manage, we move from task to task in a frantic pace and don’t allow time to prepare the tools, our space, or our minds for the work we’re about to move into.

    What took an extra couple of minutes in preparation easily saved me twenty minutes in clean up the way I used to do it.

    If you’re going to manage multiple tasks, then preparing for those tasks ahead of time will streamline efficiency and as a result increase productivity.

    8. Nutrition

    In a previous article I wrote on Lifehack, I talked about the importance of nutrition on memory enhancement. Similarly, nutrition can impact performance and productivity.

    As my startup grew and my time got squeezed, I found myself drinking more coffee, eating unhealthy snacks and less nutritious food. I also found myself starting happy-hour earlier just to hide from all the details in my head.

    Over time, my body was tied in knots. My sleep schedule was off and my focus was hit and miss. Simply dropping the coffee, happy-hour and doing more proactive meal prep put me back in my body and my mind which helped me be more present to the tasks I had to manage every day.

    Nutrition is not a common tip for multitasking management, but it’s imperative if you want to be productive.

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    These are some healthy eating habits to help you stay productive: 15 Eating Habits to Make You Stay Productive at Work

    9. Take a Break

    When you’re invested in your work, it’s easy to take it with you everywhere.

    I find myself constantly working. My business is important to me because I feel we have important work to do in the world. But, I’ve found that if I don’t take a break, I begin to feel worn down by the sheer load of it all.

    I notice, too, that when I do take a break from work, my mind relaxes and a space opens up for new inspiration and energy, giving me renewed focus for the vital few tasks I need to manage when I go back to work.

    This is why it’s important to schedule downtime. Again, this is not common multitasking advice, but for those of us that want to hack life, we understand and appreciate a holistic approach to productivity.

    The Bottom Line

    The goal is a rich and productive life, not spinning a bunch of plates only to look up years from now and wonder why you’re not further in life than you are.

    From the book The One Thing,

    “Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.”

    Multitasking, as most people think about it, is really just busyness. But managing the vital few tasks sequentially, not simultaneously, will lead you to the kind of productivity that will take you where you wish to go.

    More Resources to Boost Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

    More by this author

    Chris Angell

    The founder of Groundswell Digital Marketing, helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses through done-for-you content marketing.

    Is Memory Enhancement Possible? 12 Ways That Actually Work 9 Best Productivity Planners and Journal To Get More Done In Less Time 9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity 11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity and Efficiency

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Set You up for Success

    15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Set You up for Success

    Journaling is a powerful tool that can help sharpen your brain and mind so that you can become more successful, think more clearly, and reach your goals.

    Journaling is one of the top strategies that contribute to many entrepreneurs and high achievers’ success inside and outside the workplace.

    Maybe you’re unsure of how to get started with the habit of journaling, or maybe you’re looking for journal ideas to sharpen your brain to maximize your productivity and happiness.

    In this article, we’ll look at the top 15 journal ideas you can use to sharpen your brain:

    1. Set a Structure for Your Journal

    If the idea of opening a blank journal and trying to figure out what to write for the day seems daunting to you, then have no fear. One of the simplest ideas to avoid having to think about what to write about in your journal is to create a structure that works well for you.

    First, think about what your goal is with journaling. Is it to increase your productivity? Be more creative? De-stress?

    Knowing the reason why you are journaling will help you create a structure for your own journal. You can create a list of questions that you want to answer every day or action steps.

    For example, you may structure your journal like this:

    • What am I grateful for today? (Give 5 meaningful examples)
    • What are the top 3 tasks I need to accomplish today?
    • What goals am I currently working towards?
    • How do I want to better myself today?

    Get inspiration from other people who journal and start implementing the structure that works best for you. Having a set structure that you use every day can make journaling more effective and easier to stick with.

    2. Use To-Do Lists to Hack Your Dopamine

    Many people use journaling as a way to manage their tasks and to-do lists. One brain hacking strategy is to cross out your accomplished tasks with red ink.

    It may seem silly, but when your brain recognizes the bright red ink crossing out a task that has been performed, it helps stimulate a release of dopamine, your reward and motivation neurotransmitter.

    Dopamine is what allows you to feel the reward of accomplishing a task, but it also will help increase your motivation, which can help you become more productive, focused, and motivated to continue journaling.

    3. Write Just One Sentence (Seriously)

    For some, the idea of having to sit down for more than 5 minutes and write a long entry every single time can make journaling feel more like homework than a helpful habit.

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    There are no rules or requirements for journaling. You don’t need at least 500 words with an introduction, body, and conclusion. If you want, you could even do as little as just one sentence.

    Maybe it’s a busy day and you simply don’t have the time you usually do to sit down and journal. Writing just a sentence or two can help your brain continue the habit of journaling so that it can stick. It can also take some pressure off of you from feeling like you have to write more, just because that’s what you are “supposed” to do.

    Also allowing yourself to write less forces your brain to hone into what’s important. If you only have a few sentences to write, most likely you won’t write about what you want to have for lunch, you’ll focus on what’s truly important at that moment.

    4. End Your Entry with Your Top Goals (Day, Month, Lifetime)

    A great idea for seamlessly transitioning from journaling to starting your day is to end your journal entry with your top goals or tasks. Typically, you’ll write out your current goals for the day ahead, whether they be for work, diet, or fitness. This helps to prime your brain to look forward to the day ahead.

    You can also include your bigger goals for the month, year, or even for your life. By writing your goals down on regular basis, it helps orient your brain and your decisions toward the direction of your goals.

    It’s the steady reminder of what you are working towards so that you can achieve it as quickly as possible.

    Need a little help in how to set goals? This article can help: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

    5. End Your Day with Journaling

    Many first-timers to journaling are under the impression that you need to journal first thing in the morning. Although journaling first thing in the morning is great, it is not necessary.

    Many people choose to journal in the evening as a way to decompress from the day and set the tone for the next day.

    Journaling at night also can help you de-stress and write down anything that may be bothering from earlier that day, so that you can get it off your mind, onto paper, and be able to get good sleep.

    6. Practice Gratitude

    Studies show that practicing gratitude actually helps your brain become better. Practicing gratitude helps activate your hypothalamus, which is part of your limbic system, to help you better regulate your emotions, behaviors, and even improve motivation.[1]

    Practicing gratitude first thing in the morning helps your brain gain a positive perspective to start the day. It helps your brain look for the good in the day, rather than only preparing for the worst.

    This idea is incredibly simple to implement. Just write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. You can express gratitude for people, experiences, circumstances, events, or blessings that you may be thankful for.

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    The more gratitude you can feel the better, which means you want to try and come up with responses that truly resonate with you (the recent job promotion that allows you and your spouse to travel more) instead of finding generic reasons (food, water, shelter). Although you may be grateful for those things, they may not resonate as deeply.

    Learn more about starting a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

    7. Write One Positive Thing That Happened in Your Day

    What you focus on becomes powerful in your brain. Have you ever had a good day but you couldn’t seem to get past the one bad event that happened that day?

    Our brain is trained to look towards the negative as a natural protective response, but you can retrain your brain to focus on the positive.

    When you write down one or more positive things that happened that day, it helps your brain reframe the day in a positive light and actually helps to train your brain to focus on the positive aspects of your day rather than the negative.

    8. Affirmations

    Your thoughts can change your brain. Affirmations are a useful tool for retraining your brain. Affirmations are positive reinforcements to push your brain in the direction you desire.[2]

    Do you want to be more confident? You can write down a list of affirmations as a way to retrain your brain to believe what you want to believe. Here’re some affirmations examples:

    • I am fully confident and secure in myself.
    • I am beaming with confidence and self-assurance.
    • I don’t let my insecurities prevent me from reaching my goals.

    Write down a few pieces of gratitude every morning to direct your brain in the direction of your goals to start the day.

    You can find more affirmations ideas here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

    Or try one of these affirmations apps: 10 Uplifting Positive Affirmation Apps That Help You Re-Center on the Go

    9. Restate Your Purpose and Mission

    Why did you wake up today?

    What’s the purpose and mission of your day? Are you currently working towards a specific goal?

    Being able to state your mission and purpose helps to set the intention for your day ahead so that every action and choice you make during the day is directed towards your purpose and mission.

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    This allows you to be able to say no to activities that may be taking you away from your goal. Then you can stay focused on the activities that will keep you in alignment with your purpose and mission.

    Want to learn more about the importance of having a purpose? This article has some good advice: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

    10. Unload Your Stress

    We all have those difficult and challenging events that life inevitably throws our way. Often times, we have a tendency to hold onto that stress and ruminate over it. Holding onto that stress can begin effect not only our work life but our personal life as well.

    Chronic stress is one of the biggest killers of brain health and performance. Research shows that chronic or extreme stress can actually cause your brain to shrink.[3]

    Have you ever felt less stressed after talking to someone about the challenges you are facing? Unloading your stress into a journal entry is a similar strategy.

    By unloading your stress into your journal, it can help your brain de-stress and even help you get a different perspective on the problem.

    11. Reflect on Old Journal Entries

    If you were trying to lose weight for several months and felt like you didn’t get the results you were hoping for but then you decided to weigh yourself, you might realize you actually lost more weight than you thought.

    Change happens slowly and often times we don’t realize how much we have actually grown in the months or years that have passed.

    A helpful aspect of journaling is that after you have been practicing the habit for some time, you can reflect back on old entries.

    Reflecting on old journal entries gives your brain an overview of that change that has occurred from the old entry until now, which can help motivate your brain to keep going.

    12. Brainstorm

    Are you currently feeling stuck on a problem and not sure what’s going to be the next best step? Journaling can help your brain get more clarity on the best solution.

    Being able to lay out all aspects of the problem on paper can help your brain better work the problem so you can get to the best solution quicker and easier than trying to process just in your head.

    Looking at the same problem through a different lens gives you a whole new picture that can help you solve it.

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    13. Tell a Story

    Creativity is like a muscle – if you don’t use it, you lose it. Your brain loves routine but if you do the same journal routine over and over, your brain doesn’t change.

    Instead of your normal routine of journaling, mix it up by telling a story. This trains your brain to become more creative, adaptable, and changeable.

    Writing a story helps your brain break free from routine and start thinking outside the box. This can help improve your creativity in other aspects of your life as well.

    14. Check-In with Your Goals

    As we discussed earlier, many use their journal as a place to write down their goals. As you progress, you can use journal entries to check-in with yourself to see how you are tracking towards your goals.

    Maybe you realize that you are not as close to your goal as you hoped. Below your discovery, write down a few action steps to get you back on course toward hitting your goals.

    15. Create Compelling Vision

    If you want to become more motivated, then you need something compelling to look forward to.

    Unclear goals or destinations rarely get reached. The clearer the vision, the easier it will be for your brain to visualize and attain that outcome.

    In a perfect world, what would your ideal future look like? Where would you live? How much money are you making? What kind of car do you drive? Where do you get to travel?

    Creating this compelling future is a fun idea to help your brain become more motivated to achieve that goal.

    Bottom Line

    Just like anything else, journaling gets better with time and practice. So, give journaling some time.

    At first, it may feel a bit awkward; but over time you’ll find your rhythm and routine that best suits your goals, your lifestyle, and your personality.

    If you’re ready to take your journaling to the next level, start incorporating these 15 journaling ideas to take your brain power to the next level.

    More About Journaling

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Oxford Academic: The Neural Basis of Human Social Values: Evidence from Functional MRI
    [2] The Annual Review of Psychology: The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention
    [3] CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2006 Oct; 5(5): 503–512.: Stress and Brain Atrophy

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