I will be honest with you. Books, podcasts, lectures, and apps. I even took two courses in time management. I think I was looking for a way to be more efficient and understand what I was doing wrong. What is the most important thing I have learned? There is no secret solution to organizing your time. Period. However, don’t fall into despair. I’m here to share some ground rules which will increase your productivity and boost your workflow. Are you ready to organize your time like a true professional?
1. Written, seen, done
Before you start your journey you need a solid plan to navigate between your tasks. Get a piece of paper and write down everything you need to do. Then think of the priority your tasks have and group them into two categories: important projects and less significant choirs. Now everything starts to look clearer.
If you are more paper-kind of a person stick to a calendar, but if you prefer digital solutions choose them instead (Google calendar is a handy option). First plan your most important tasks. Put them into your calendar so you know when their deadline is. This will be your long-term planning.
At the end of each day prepare a to-do list for the next morning. This way you will get all the responsibilities off your chest and get a good night’s sleep. Be selective so pick 5-7 tasks each day and only do some more if you finish them quickly. What if at the end of the day there are some that haven’t been completed? Put them at the top of your list and finish them in the morning.
2. Prioritize your tasks
When you look at your to-do list, every single task may seem equally important. There is also one more trap. We have a tendency to start with smaller bits and leave the hardest ones for later. This way we get the feeling of instant gratification but in a bigger picture, when the time comes to deal with more tricky tasks, we feel tired and overwhelmed.
Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog gives great advice that can change your work efficiency forever. He believes that we should always start with the most important and demanding task from the top of our list. The reason behind it is pretty simple and logical. Once you are done with it, everything else looks extremely simple and you will execute it in no time at all. However, if you have some things on your to-do list that can be completed in a minute or two, allow yourself to do them between your main tasks. This way you won’t lose your flow.
3. Break the myth of multitasking
There were times when multitasking was a hot term people used to prove they were capable and worthy. Recent studies, however, prove that multitasking does more harm than good. It decreases your efficiency, reduces the quality of your work and leads to the overwhelming feeling of stress. Some even link it to burnout, depression, and anxiety.
Human brain is capable of dealing with one task at a time in order to complete it fully and efficiently. We also deprive ourselves of the mindful appreciation of the process. That is why every time you sit down to start work, focus on one task only and carry on until you complete it. I know it sounds incredibly unexciting but this way you will be able to deal with all your responsibilities step by step.
At the very beginning your thoughts may wander and you may think of dozens of others things you need to do. Keep a piece of paper next to you and note everything that crosses your mind. Keep getting back to your task and deal with those extra things later.
One more thing: get rid of everything that may distract you. Turn your mobile off, close email tabs on your laptop and focus on here and now. Just simply enjoy the moment.
4. Fight procrastination
This uninvited feeling nobody asks for. Its name is procrastination and it visits everyone from time to time hindering our workflow. Instead of doing what is important it is far more thrilling to scroll Instagram or start cleaning our room just to prove ourselves that we are in fact extremely busy. Time passes and your to-do list stays exactly the same as it was.
The question raises how to break this chain of idleness and trick yourself into doing what you should. I’m extremely sorry but there is just one solution and it is really bunting: start working right away. Don’t bargain, don’t hesitate, just do it. You are the only person who can actually change something.
There are, however, some days when we don’t feel like working at all. I often use Pomodoro Method and I swear by it. It divides your tasks into 25-minute chunks of work and 5 minutes of rest. You may try my favourite Pomodoro timer here. Use your time to its fullest so when you are in a work mode, don’t get distracted. Even if it means staring at the computer screen for 25 minutes. Inspiration will eventually find you, trust me.
5. Cherish your own workspace
Your workspace is your little sanctuary. It may sound very poetic but there is some truth about it. This is the place where you spend most of your time so make it work for you and help you boost your efficiency. You all probably have different professions thus need something else to complete your work. No matter what you do, find a spot where your brain gets the signal: it is time to work. You may keep your By Dariia Day Silk Headbands there which will make the process more enjoyable or your favorite home scent to entice you come there. I know that working on your laptop from your cozy sofa under a blanket is far more tempting than a simple desk and a chair but it is exactly the same place where you binge-watch Netflix in the evening. No wonder your whole body tells you to relax instead of working.
Take care of your space and it will help you in return. After each day of work clean it, make it tidy, and get it ready for another day. Make it a ritual that will be like a pat on your back telling you have done amazing work and now it is time for a well-deserved rest.
Do you feel inspired and you would like to take your productivity even further? Here are five books worth reading:
by Anna Sokołowska