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7 Productivity Hacks To Accomplish All Your Tasks Every Day

7 Productivity Hacks To Accomplish All Your Tasks Every Day

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.

Featured photo credit: john.schultz via flickr.com

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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