Have you ever left a full day of work realizing that you have even more on your to do list than when you started? We’ve all been there. The ability to effectivity manage your time, and be productive while doing it, is not something that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, you’re lucky if this isn’t typically a struggle for you. When it comes to workplace effectiveness, a productive employee equals a high performing organization. It sounds like a simple equation, but more often than not, there are moments where we tend to fall short in our day to day. So how do we fix it? Instead of putting in more hours or feeling stressed, try implementing these simple tips that can benefit anyone looking to be happier, healthier and hard working.
Take care of the big tasks first
Everyone has their own way of accomplishing things. Are you someone who tackles everything in the morning to get it over with? Maybe you hold off on the important things until you get all the little tasks finished? While there’s no right or wrong, we’ve found that when you begin checking off all the smaller items on your to do list first, one of two things usually happen. One, you’re too burnt out to give the most important tasks the attention they need, or two, procrastination sets in and something that could have been finished is now dragging on. Taking care of the pressing tasks first, not only helps you do things efficiently, but it leads to a driven and motivated mindset. Plus, your brain will thank you at the end of the day.
Say no to multitasking
Now, this is a difficult one for some people to let go of. Half the time we don’t even realize we’re multitasking. Here’s the problem. People tend to think this is a skill that allows you to get more done efficiently. The reality is, multitasking doesn’t really mean doing several things at once, it means forcing your mind to constantly shift focus between different things. This actually leads to decreased productivity. We like to trick ourselves into thinking we can do several things at once, especially if they’re easy. Along with tackling the big things first, tackle them one at a time. This can be something as simple as setting specific times to check and respond to emails or even silencing your phone while you work. It seems counterintuitive, but “single-tasking” can end up being one of the most productive habits for you in the long run.
Setting small goals means receiving big rewards
If you’re anything like us, you have a place where all your tasks or goals for the day are stored. Maybe a planner, a notebook or on an electronic calendar. You may find yourself rereading this list more than crossing things off. It can feel overwhelming to look at a long list of to dos and deadlines. In order to decrease stress and boost your productivity, set smaller goals for yourself. The key word in this tip is “small.” This not only gives you a sense of control over when things get done, but you’ll find that it can be more motivating. Sometimes even the satisfaction of crossing off something with a pen can increase the feeling of accomplishment. Think about breaking down big tasks into smaller components. It’s a little bit of a mind game. Break your tasks down, stick to them and watch your productivity sky rocket.
Throw perfection out the door
We’ve all heard the saying, “expect the unexpected,” but how many times have you actually planned ahead for when things go wrong? When it comes to productivity, one of the worst things you can do is underestimate situations. Mistakes will be made, and problems will always arise, but it all comes down to how you handle these situations that will determine how productive you truly allow yourself to be. One way to accept these situations is by allowing yourself to make a “what if” plan in case things don’t go as expected. We’re not saying to spend hours writing a 5-page list of “what ifs,” but to make a small mental note in your head. How many times have you planned to complete a task in 1 hour and 4 hours later it’s finally done? You’re probably angry at the fact that you’ve been chasing an illusion that things were expected to go perfectly. When you throw perfection out the door and plan ahead for the little detours, you’ll find it becomes much easier to accept the unplanned instead of spending time dwelling on it.
Learn from your successes
When something goes well, we’re often blinded by the pop of the champagne and celebration (there’s nothing wrong with this by the way) but think about your successes in the long run. Those who are highly productive in their work, analyze their successes in order to either repeat them, or figure out how to be even better the next time around. Ask yourself, “what were the things that went well and why did they work?” This is all about being productive in the way you handle things in the future and understanding that every success matters, so why not learn from it?
When thinking about the things that keep us productive or motivated, it can be difficult to have a clear answer. Not every day is going to feel perfectly productive either. As individuals, it is common to become stuck on one way of thinking, resulting in outcomes that can prevent growth and development. The truth of the matter is, those who are efficient and productive in their work aren’t people who are experts or geniuses. They are people who are constantly learning, solving challenges and thinking about the journey as a whole, regardless of the outcome. Whether we’re talking about productivity at work or simply in everyday life, there are hundreds of benefits that arise when you take time to understand and implement your own best practices.