Any work environment is comparable to a battlefield when it comes to accomplishing responsibilities. Too much work to handle, and you’ll feel like a lone warrior battling against hundreds of opponents.
You have to choose your battles. Or else, you risk a high probability of defeat. Listed below are a few tips that can help you become more productive by doing less.
1. Work smarter, not work harder.
While hardworking lends a positive tone to one’s character, being busy does not necessarily translate to productivity.
While one may exert much effort on a task, the work done may not be too efficient to arrive at the desired results. One tip for optimizing productivity is to maximize your energy. Save most of your energy on the more important things to do, and stop wasting it on dilly-dally. Not only will you save yourself from mental and physical fatigue, you will also find yourself with some extra time to spare for relaxation at the end of your work day.
2. Take baby steps.
You have your eyes on the prize. You know exactly what to do to achieve that. But step back for a minute to reflect on how you are going to reach your goal.
Do you race ahead to the finish line like the hare? Or do you go slow and steady like the tortoise? It is best to emulate the latter to ensure that you are right on track towards accomplishment. Small, sure steps to your big goal sounds better than huge, rushed ones.
Kayla Matthews of Productivity Theory shares, “Setting micro-goals, or small goals that are a part of your larger habit goal, is just a good way to break down a more complicated process into attainable benchmarks.”
3. Set aside time to list your tasks.
One way of breaking down your goal into smaller tasks is by identifying the immediate concerns that need to be addressed. Segment your workload by writing down all that needs to be done, and choosing the top three tasks that you need to accomplish at the end of the day.
Leadership coach Neen James swears by having a to-do list. “My number one success habit professionally is investing 15 minutes of every morning to identify my top three non-negotiable activities for completion today. I do it every day and write it on a post-it note that says “Today I will…” and list my three,” shares James.
4. Ask for help.
When responsibilities on your table become too overwhelming for you, do not attempt to do them all by yourself, and risk missing the deadline. It doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Everyone needs some kind of help at some point in their lives. Not only will this ease your workload, it also gives you the chance to nurture relationships with your co-workers.
5. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”
Do you know about the 80-20 rule? The Pareto principle or the law of the vital few states that most of the time, 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the causes.
In relation to work, it means 80 percent of your output is produced by only 20 percent of your efforts. While it’s okay to say “yes” to, say, a colleague’s request and accept other responsibilities, too many will burden your own workload. Filter the additional commitments, and decline the less important or urgent ones.
6. Stop multi-tasking.
While some of us wish to have super powers, let’s admit we’re humans. No one can handle 15 tasks at a time. So better drop some of them, and do things one at a time. Focusing on a single task at hand allows you more mental energy to accomplish the task.
7. Takes breaks once in a while.
Going divide and conquer on your workload is also applicable to your working hours. Better take a quick break in between tackling your to-do list to recharge your mind.
Kenneth A. James of ResumesPlanet finds that following the 50/10 rule makes his work more manageable. “The 50/10 is the simplest yet most effective productivity tool for me. It requires me to do uninterrupted work for 50 minutes, then spend the next ten minutes for mental rest.”
He observes that breaking down his work schedule in hours gives him a clearer picture of how he should go about his work. “Sometimes, I spend my short breaks to take a peek in my e-mail, which adds up to my productivity,” he adds.
8. Celebrate small accomplishments.
Got task 1 done in 50 minutes without checking Facebook? Accomplished major tasks before lunch time? Laud yourself for each of that. Get some positive reinforcement from yourself by acknowledging your small victories. There’s no better motivation than knowing you are ticking off tasks in your list and progressing towards your goal.
Reducing the energy spent on minor side activities gives you more to handle the major important ones, and eventually maximize your day for productivity. You also lessen the stress and anxiety over missed deadlines when you focus and work consistently.