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7 Productivity Hacks To Accomplish All Your Tasks Every Day

7 Productivity Hacks To Accomplish All Your Tasks Every Day
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How would you like to execute all your tasks for each day, and do that every day? Sounds great, right? Sure, with the right steps taken, you can get that done easily. Accomplishing all your tasks for the day will help you have a great day, bring you closer to the ultimate achievement you’re set for, and give you satisfaction. It’ll also contribute hugely to your overall success. After all, that’s what success is all about — accomplishing all your set goals and meeting your targets.

If you fancy the feeling of being successful and would like to go through each day achieving your goals, here’s how to pull that off in 7 simple steps:

1. Write Out a Basic Plan for the Day

Write out a basic plan, showing all the important things you want to do for the day. You can do this using a computer, a mobile device, or going traditional with a real pen and paper. It involves evaluating and prioritizing the day’s activities in the order of their rewards and benefits to you. You’d have to do this before you start your day.

It’s about getting organized; it’s about getting to know what to do and how to do it; it’s about getting things in place on paper and in your mind, so you wouldn’t lose your bearings or become disoriented in the middle of the day, thinking what to do next.

Make the tasks in the list as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) as possible.

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You don’t have to include 30 tasks that require at least 2 hours each to accomplish; there are just 24 hours in a day. My personal strategy here is to try to make my list have 3-5 MITs (Most Important Tasks) plus a couple other non-MITs. If you end up accomplishing just the MITs, you still had a great day. The non-MITs can be outsourced or delegated if you’re time-challenged.

Obviously, planning your day ahead involves some thinking and visualization, where you forecast your day before you even live in it. You can even go a step further by doing this the night before. I usually do this while carrying out step 7 below.

2. Set Time for each Task

After writing out a basic plan for your day, allot time to each activity. Possibly, indicate when to start the activity and when to end it. Visualize how much you hope to accomplish the task within the stipulated time frame, and of course, keep it SMART. Doing this will put you in control of your time and day. It will also help you measure your progress, manage your time effectively and get more done.

3. Follow Through Meticulously

It’s not just enough to write out a plan and allot time to the activities; you actually have to follow through strictly if you want to achieve results. This entails getting up to do what you ought to do when it’s time to do it.

The truth is, if you shift things, it could change everything. Let’s say you had fixed to write an article from 10 a.m to 11:30 a.m. And so when it was time, you opened you computer, logged in, and just as you were about to open your word processor, something happened: A notification box popped up out of nowhere, showing that you have a new email in your inbox. So you head over to Gmail to check it.

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Then to FB to quickly see how many new Facebook likes your page just got; then to Twitter; then your favorite blog. And before you know it, it’s already 30 minutes into your article writing time. But just because it’s so necessary to write the article, the time has to be shifted from the initial 11:30 to 12:00, eating into the time for another activity. And the cycle continues.

If you ever get into that kind of cicle, the next point can come in handy.

4. Give Total Attention to the Task at Hand

It’s easy to get distracted in the midst of the activities and happenings around you during the day, but you have to make up your mind not to be distracted. Staying focused is important for the accomplishment of your tasks. If you really want to get something done, give total attention to it; concentrate all your strength on it, psychologically, physically and otherwise.

Clearly, this is against multi-tasking. You really cannot get much done by trying to do everything at the same time. Single tasking is the way to go. If you find yourself struggling with staying focused and giving total attention to the task at hand, here are some things to do:

  • Create a Distraction-Free Environment (DFE) for yourself, whether physically or virtually.
  • Get rid of everything that can sidetrack you.
  • Stay mentally alert and be watchful of yourself.
  • If you have to take breaks to avoid burnouts, do so.
  • Monitor your progress and redirect your focus if it seems you’re diverting.

5. Give Precedence to those Activities that Produce Quality Results

To have the best results, you’d have to concentrate on the most important activities and give them your best shot. By important activities, I mean those activities that will help you most in achieving or getting close to your ultimate goal. You will have to do this because during the day, several unimportant activities may pop up, looking to steal away your time.

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And the unfortunate thing? You may not realize that your time is being “stolen” until it’s 5:00 PM when you suddenly realize that you haven’t done much for the day.

Here are some steps you can apply to overcome this:

  • Make sure your activities are focused on the achievement of your greater goal.
  • Cut off any and every trivial and unnecessary activity.
  • Write out at least 3 MITs you’d like to accomplish for the day.

You’d also have to beware of “time-stealers.” Time-stealers could be unimportant and unnecessary activities, social networks, or even friends who always come around to yak and chew the fat. Avoid them like the plague.

6. Be Sensitive to the Schedule. Respect the Time

Not only should you be sensitive to the scheduling and timing of your day, you should also treat other people’s time with respect. For instance, if you told someone to come see you by 3:00 PM, when the person gets there by the said time, don’t keep the person waiting until 4:00PM. If you were unavoidably in the middle of another meeting, see about calling the person up before 3:00 PM to re-schedule the appointment.

Don’t keep people waiting gratuitously. They might have gotten at least one useful thing done while waiting and doing nothing. On the other hand, if you find yourself waiting, make productive use of the little blocks of time you have. Maybe while waiting for a meeting to start, queuing up at the ticket station, waiting to catch a flight, or even while sitting in a bus, get something done.

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It could be a simple, streamlined task like replying/sending an email, making a short important call, signing up for a service or a helpful task like reading. Whatever it is, create a list of 5-10 minutes tasks, ready to be executed at any given “block of time.”

Remember what the sixth part of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues says:

“Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”

7. Go Back to Your List of Basic Plans and Evaluate

This comes at the end of the day. Write out a list of the things you’ve done since you woke up. This will help you measure your progress and set new goals. It’ll also help you redirect your focus on the tasks that need to get done. If after evaluating your list you’re not satisfied with the results you’ve gotten, don’t complain but just do it better the next day.

Conclusion

Accomplishing all your tasks for each day is doable and it comes with a great feeling. It’s also important because meeting your daily goals contributes immensely to your overall success and to the achievement of your ultimate goal. When you want to have a great day, apply the productivity hacks above and you’ll be set to getting that done, stress-free.

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Featured photo credit: john.schultz via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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