Not feeling as efficient as you’d like? Try these handy hacks to help you get all those tasks checked off your to-do list.
At the end of your workday, do you feel as if you could’ve done more? Maybe written more words, responded to more emails or completed more tasks? Many of us need a boost in productivity every now and then to help us to work to our optimum level – and feel super on top of things and fulfilled at the end of the day.
These tips will help you make the most of your day, whether you’re office bound or an entrepreneur trying desperately to juggle your business and home life during lockdown.
Eat the frog
According to Australian entrepreneur Taryn Williams, “eating the frog” is key to a productive day. “We all have tasks we put off as they seem too daunting,” she says. “I call it eating the frog since it’s the last thing you actually want to do.”
So start each day listing your eat-the-frog items and tackle them first. Afterwards you’ll feel boosted and ready for easier tasks.
Template for success
She also suggests drawing up a “no” template email for those sticky situations when you’re not sure how to decline something.
“It’s easy to get caught up doing things that aren’t the best use of your time – so have a ‘no’ template that’s a polite ‘thanks, but I can’t right now’, so you’re not tempted to default to a ‘yes’.”
Not having to start a “sorry but” email from scratch will help you keep your inbox clear.
You may give yourself a pat on the back for being a multitasker but, according to behavioural psychologist Susan Weinschenk, you aren’t doing yourself any favours. In fact, multitasking can reduce your productivity by up to 40%.
She explains that people can’t actually do more than one task at a time and that in reality, multitasking is just switching between different tasks.
“It’s impossible to do them all together so your brain focuses on one of them and quickly changes that focus to another task.”
Instead of rapidly switching between activities – which only prolongs the amount of time it takes to complete a task – commit your focus to one task and see it through.
Go cold turkey
If you find yourself losing time on websites that aren’t essential for work, consider blacklisting them for certain time periods. Sites you add to the list will be automatically blocked for the selected time, ensuring you can’t distract yourself by, for instance, scrolling through your Facebook news feed for a few minutes (which can quickly turn into an hour!) when you have a deadline looming.
Although many swear by putting on music when they need motivation, research has proven that music with lyrics (at least those in languages you speak) can actually be distracting.
Choose either instrumentals for ambience or white noise to block out sound instead, and you won’t be as tempted to stop and sing along with the tune.
When people begin a project, they often default to starting at the beginning. But if you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to abandon the introduction and focus on another part. Sometimes it’s easier to start in the middle of a document or even at the end, so don’t restrict yourself to a particular order if it just isn’t working.
Group your tasks
When planning your day, group similar tasks together to make your work process flow more smoothly.
For example, deal with all your social tasks – such as answering emails, text messages and listening to voicemails – in one batch. That way you’re maintaining the same frame of mind for all the tasks involved and you can move onto other projects with a clear sense of what you have to do next.