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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

How to Be More Efficient at Work, at Home and in Life

How to Be More Efficient at Work, at Home and in Life

If you go to bed every night feeling like you didn’t do enough, you’re not alone. Lots of people are just not able to meet the expectations they set for themselves.

Luckily, efficiency is only a single habit away.

It is not as easy as it may sound. The solution that I am speaking of is not a Band-Aid, but rather a life-changing decision that will require a fair amount of sacrifice on your part.

Nothing worthwhile ever comes for free, so let’s take a look at the secret followed by its practical applications in your workplace, home, and life.

4 Steps to an Efficient Day at Work

To act effectively, first, you need to think effectively. Here are four things that you can do to sharpen your mind and get yourself ready for a productive day.

1. Set Precise Goals

Many people underestimate the importance of goals. ‘I will be productive today’ is not a goal. ‘I will make five sales today’ or ‘I will spend time with my kids’ is a goal. You should start making both short-term and long-term goals which are clear and concise.

Another helpful tip is to write down your goals and take a look at them once or twice every day. It can serve as a reminder of what is essential and help you to not stray from the path.

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2. Have an Enterprising Mindset

An enterprising mindset means that you do what’s important right now.

According to the famous entrepreneur his Do it now’ attitude is one of the main reasons for his success. Once you have set your goals, it is vital that you develop an enterprising attitude.

The simplest way to do that is to focus on the most important activities first. You might be tempted to get the easier tasks out of the way before you focus on the more difficult ones, but putting first things first is an important step on your way to an efficient life.

3. Let Your Desire Burn Bright

It is also important to have a ‘never back down’ attitude.

Napoleon Hill in his legendary book Think & Grow Rich interviewed 100s of the most successful people in the US and found the desire for greatness to be one of the few traits all of them had in common.

Once you have the drive to succeed, you will find yourself automatically drawn to actions that help you pursue your goals.

4. Set a Dynamic Schedule

‘The more useful you become, the more your time is not your own.’

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Since very few people are efficient, the few who do manage to transcend mediocrity are called for help numerous times throughout the day.

The best way to combat this is by setting up your schedule in an adaptive way.

Rather than having a set time for everything, list out your daily/weekly tasks in your schedule based on priority and get started on the most important one. In case of an unforeseen interruption, deal with it and get back on the horse.

Following a timed schedule is extremely difficult in the modern day and failing to keep up with it will only demotivate you. And in case you need a little more help about your schedule, here’s a useful article: Time Management: Handling Disruptions in Daily Schedules

3 Steps to be Efficient at Home

Remember that your newfound mindset is not just confined to your workplace. Regardless of whether you work 4 hours a day or 14, it is vital to make use of the time you get to spend with the people you care about.

Here are some of the ways through which you can be effective in your relationships to find success not only in the financial world but also in the spiritual one.

1. Find Solutions, Not Problems

Stephen Covey, the founder of FranklinCovey regularly mentioned the importance of a Win/Win mentality in his works. When faced with a conflict, a person with a Win/Win mentality finds solutions which work for both parties as opposed to just one.

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Winning an argument is only a solution for the party that won, not for the party that lost.

Whether you have a problem with your friends, children, spouse, or parents, remember always to see things from their perspective. Once you understand their viewpoint, you can empathize with their feelings and work on a solution that benefits everyone. A great book that can help you with this is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

This good thing is that this newfound mentality can also be applied to your relationships at work, not only making you more effective but also a more likable and trustable person.

2. Let Your Passion Burn Bright

Just like your workday should be fuelled by desire, your time at home should be powered by passion. It is essential to explore new things and find out what you like.

Activities which make you feel miserable afterward are not your passion. If you feel like you can do better after downing a ton of beer or playing video games for 4 hours straight, it is because you can.

Find activities that encourage you to break out of your shell, and try to do them with the people in your life that you care about so that they can also benefit from the changes that you are making in your life.

3. Reinforce the Process

One more thing to remember is that there are little things you can do to reinforce all that you have learned continuously.

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An excellent example of this is making your bed as soon as you wake up. This way, you have already done something that makes your surroundings better within seconds of waking up, and it sets you up perfectly for a productive day.

Once you have successfully integrated the ‘Enterprising Mindset’ in your home, you will start to see the benefits it brings in your relationships at a breakneck pace.

Eventually, you will begin to notice your efficiency rub off on the people around you.

Efficiency: The Secret to Happiness in Life

According to Phillip Fisher’s(Legendary Investor and author) son, his father never worked more than 8 hours a day. The reason why Fisher was able to have such extraordinary success for over 70 years is because the little time he did spend working, he donated it to the maximum of his ability.

A recent study suggests that during an 8-hour workday, most office workers are productive for less than 3 hours.[1] Just imagine how much more could each of those workers achieve with an enterprising mindset.

Remember that I am not saying to stop working for 8 hours. Those who work more usually end up achieving way more too. What we are merely pointing out is that to do more, you need to make your time count rather than sacrifice more of it.

Efficiency isn’t just tied to the workplace. If you decide to work long hours, it is imperative that the precious time you spend with your loved ones reminds you of what is essential in life, and why you strive to make yourself a better as well as a more efficient person every day.

Once you embrace the maximum of efficiency, you will immediately notice vast improvements in your life. However, remember that to truly embrace what I’ve just told you, you need to implement it too.

More Productivity Tips

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

Reference

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John Obstander

John is a productivity geek and a writing enthusiast who has no limits and got wings to take over the world.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity)

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity)

On August 6, 1991, the world changed forever when the internet became publicly available. Less than 30 years later, our lives have been irrevocably transformed. We can now learn, explore, and communicate 24/7, which is both amazing and, as we all know, hazardous to our productivity[1]. This is why the question, “What is block scheduling?” has become important.

To be clear, the internet isn’t life’s only distraction, and while productivity has become a huge buzzword in recent years, it’s simply a measure of progress: Are you doing what matters most? Actively moving toward your goals?

Author Neil Pasricha writes in Harvard Business Review[2]:

“As our world gets busier and our phones get beepier, the scarcest resource for all of us is becoming attention and creative output. And if you’re not taking time to put something new and beautiful out in the world, then your value is diminishing fast.”

Most entrepreneurs relate deeply to this sentiment. Pasricha solved his own productivity challenges by instituting “untouchable days” that shield him from texts, phone calls, meetings, alerts, or appointments of any kind. He says these focused sessions have enabled him to produce his most creative and rewarding work.

I love Pasricha’s approach, but it’s not always realistic for me. As the founder and CEO of JotForm, I need to weigh in on a variety of daily decisions, from hiring to product roadmaps to financial planning. I suspect other founders feel the same way. Yet, I do believe in the power of focused work, which is also why I recommend block scheduling.

What Is Block Scheduling?

Entrepreneurs often flaunt their multitasking as a badge of honor. After all, starting a business is a tug-of-war between competing priorities.

However, while multitasking might feel efficient, research shows that shifting between tasks can slash productivity by up to 40%. Task-switching leaves what Dr. Sophie Leroy calls “attention residue,”[3] which means we’re still thinking about a previous activity while we start the next one[4].

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Here’s where block scheduling can shine. What is block scheduling, exactly?

We usually become familiar with the concept of block scheduling in high school. You likely received a schedule with a certain number of classes per day, all blocked according to class time, each school year. This is basic block scheduling.

Also called time blocking, block scheduling is the practice of allocating large chunks of time to related tasks. For example, you might designate Mondays for meetings and Tuesdays for strategy. Teachers often use block scheduling when creating lesson plans. There are many different approaches, which we’ll get to shortly.

First, here’s why it matters. Business is essentially problem-solving. Creating strategies, writing code, developing products, and all the myriad activities that entrepreneurs tackle demand focus and minimal distractions. They’re also inherently human tasks that won’t easily be replaced by AI, which means your business depends on your ability to go deep.

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World, said in a 2017 interview:

“Focus is now the lifeblood of this economy.”

Entrepreneurs use their minds to launch ideas and create value, so the ability to concentrate is “almost like a superpower”[5].

Block scheduling can also help you to produce higher quality work in less time. Parkinson’s Law holds that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,”[6], which is why setting time limits can deflate a ballooning task.

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How to Use Time Blocking to Boost Productivity

We all have different rhythms and responsibilities. Personalization is the key to successful time blocking, and it will require some trial and error. Here’s how to get started.

What is time blocking?

    1. Assess Your Calendar

    Evaluating your current schedule can be surprisingly difficult because few of us can accurately estimate how much time a task requires. If it feels easier, track how you actually spend your time for a full week. Note each activity—even 10 minutes of email and 15 minutes of social media scrolling between meetings.

    Once you know how you’ve been spending your time, it’ll be easier to know what to keep and what to throw out when you begin to make your new schedule.

    2. Look for Patterns

    After you’ve documented a full week, group tasks into categories. For example, you can include the following categories:

    • Administrative
    • Meetings
    • Creative work
    • Email
    • Personal time.

    You can also label tasks based on how you feel while doing them, or how they influence your energy levels on a scale from 1-10. Do whatever makes sense for you.

    3. Arrange Your Time Blocks

    Experiment with different block scheduling patterns. For example, one morning may look like this:

    • 8-9am: Respond to emails
    • 9-10am: Write up marketing proposal
    • 10-11am: Brainstorm and plan for Client A’s project
    • 11am-12pm: Meet with Client A to discuss ideas

    However, you may find that you’re more creative immediately after waking up. In that case, you’d want to move “brainstorming and planning” to an earlier slot. If responding to emails is best for when you’re feeling a little lethargic after lunch, put it there.

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    Read your emotions and abilities throughout the day to tap into what is going to work best for you.

    Ultimately, the goal is to avoid switching mental gears throughout the day, week, and maybe even the month. I realize this isn’t easy, especially for entrepreneurs, but it can be incredibly valuable.

    Spending a full day on projects you dislike, such as administrative work or meetings, might feel daunting, but blocking them into a single day can make the rest of your week infinitely more productive and more enjoyable. You’re free to tackle all the entrepreneurial challenges that get your blood flowing.

    4. Create Day Themes

    If you’re someone who has to focus on many things during a single day or week, you may find it more beneficial to create themes for each day instead of blocking up your day into individual tasks. For example, you can set Mondays as Brainstorming/Planning days, Tuesdays as Administrative days, etc.

    If you take this route, I suggest always scheduling in at least one Family day. It will ensure you make time for the important people in your life and give your brain time to rest.

    Benefits of Block Scheduling

    Once you’ve answered “What is block scheduling?” and know how to use it correctly, you’ll find that you receive many benefits. Here are just a few.

    Battle Procrastination

    If you have your schedule set and know you only have an hour to get a particular task done, it will be significantly easier to avoid procrastinating.

    For more on how to stop procrastinating, check out this article.

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    Create Realistic Time Estimates

    Once you’ve been working with time blocking for a while, you’ll learn which activities take the most/least time. You may have to adjust your schedule during the first month or so to get it right, but be patient. You’ll continue to learn to realistically estimate how much time a particular task will take.

    Develop More Focus and Attention

    When your schedule doesn’t leave much room for scrolling through social media or chatting with coworkers, you’ll find your brain is more devoted to paying attention to the task at hand. You’ll respond to the limits you set for yourself and will focus to get things done.

    Final Thoughts

    Most founders crave freedom. Yet, school schedules, jobs, and social norms condition us to work with a traditional schedule and reactive mindset. Before we know it, we’ve re-created a working schedule that traces back to the 19th century, even in our own companies. Block scheduling is not only a tool to maximize productivity; it’s a way to reclaim your time[7].

    In my 14 years at JotForm, I’ve realized that business growth means doing more of what makes the biggest impact. I don’t always succeed, but I try to focus my time and energy where it matters, and I know that busyness is not synonymous with productivity.

    If you feel the same way, give time blocking a try. Share your experiments in scheduling with colleagues and family members so they understand the changes and can support you.

    Finally, don’t worry about getting it right immediately. You may need to get under the hood of your calendar and tinker around a bit. Find what works for you, then protect your new schedule at all costs.

    More Tips on Time Management

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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