Does your to-do list never get finished? Are you constantly distracted by the phone, emails or colleagues? Are you always in a panic because it never seems like you’re achieving anything? It sounds like you could use some advice on how to have a productive day at work!
1. Don’t make the common mistake of letting other people’s tasks define your day. It’s easily done, you check your phone in the morning, see that Shelley from accounts has sent you an email, and poof, the first half of your day is now devoted to doing what she’s requested. Set your own goals. Once you’ve planned out the tasks you want to get done that day and set a schedule to complete them by, then you can use any extra time to help others.
2. Realise what is your most important work. The ‘Law of the Vital Few’ suggests that it is the most important 20% of tasks that has the biggest effect on your end result. The less important 80% of tasks don’t warrant as much time and energy. Figure out which tasks really matter to your end goal, and dedicate attention to these tasks. Don’t waste time on tasks that, at the end of the day, don’t impact your end goal.
3. Don’t worry about trying to remember everything. Invest in a notebook and take notes throughout the day. This way, your brain is free to work on the task in hand. If you’re more tech-savvy, then there are brilliant apps like ToDoIst which will keep track for you, and remind you what is outstanding. Trello is another great task manager which works on all devices, but a good old-fashioned spreadsheet will work just as well.
4. Do your most daunting tasks at the start of the day. As the day goes on and you get tired, you are less likely to do the tasks that you’ve been dreading. Get the hardest part of your work schedule out of the way at the start of your day and it can only get easier from there!
5. Don’t try to multi-task. True multi-tasking is a fallacy and whenever you switch tasks there is a time cost incurred. It takes your brain time to adjust to the new task so concentrate on one thing at a time and do it well before moving onto the next job. It’s easy to become side-tracked and panic about all the jobs on your to-do list, but doing one task at a time is always best. By doing this, you can give each task your full commitment and 100% energy, rather than half-heartedly doing two jobs at once.
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