Dale Carnegie said, “If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.”
At times, it feels nearly impossible to get everything done! We all share one common limiter—the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. Here are four tips to help you make the most of them.
Schedule Time- Being more productive boils down to this—if you don’t block time off to tackle tasks, someone else will take that time. If your boss or co-worker passes by your workspace and sees that you are free, he or she may stop and launch into a long conversation. If they look at your calendar and spot your available time, they are more likely to schedule a meeting during your only un-scheduled time. By blocking off specific time during each work day to get things done, you are taking the time you need before else does.
Block Distractions- Once the scheduled time has arrived to get things done, there are additional barriers to productivity which must be blocked. Phone calls; instant messenger, email, social media and other notifications; background office noise and other sources of interruptions can rob you of precious productivity. Today’s open-plan offices and standards of constant communication only exacerbate the situation. In fact, Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, found that a typical office worker can only get 11 minutes of work done between interruptions, and that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task at hand after being interrupted.
Batch-task- Many studies prove multi-tasking does not work. In one study by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that switching between tasks causes temporary mental barriers which ultimately deplete our productivity by as much as 40%! Instead of multi-tasking, try batch-tasking which you take similar tasks such as checking email, updating project plans, etc. and ‘batch’ them together.
This technique fosters hyper focus because you are doing one task repeatedly, even though the subjects may differ, enabling a high degree of concentration. Consider carving out specific times to batch-task, e.g. setting aside a half hour every morning to follow-up on proposals, instead of performing tasks throughout the day on an ad hoc basis. You’ll save a ton of time and most likely, improve the quality of your work.
Write tomorrow’s to-do’s, tonight- Mapping out your day the night before means you’ll have more time to tackle tasks when you arrive at work instead of wasting peak-productivity times—the morning, planning your day. Doing your to-do list the night before may also reveal obstacles you may need to consider before developing an action plan. Lastly, knowing exactly what lies ahead tomorrow may help you fall asleep more quickly when you are lying in bed instead of worrying about what may or may not happen.