If you sometimes lie awake at night worrying about how you’re going to get all your work done, you’re not the only one. According to research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40% of American employees experience excessive anxiety in their working lives. In a tough economic environment, professionals have to work harder to stay ahead of the competition, meaning they take on more projects with tighter deadlines and don’t defer tasks when required. No wonder national stress levels are sky high!
It’s not all bad news. Even if you’re not naturally organized, you can learn how to manage and prioritize your tasks to make it seem as if there are more hours in the day. Here are some productivity tips to help you get more work done in less time.
1. Create a realistic to-do list
People often underestimate the value of planners and to-do lists and don’t spend time on them. They simply perform the first task they spot and move on to the next without clear direction. This lack of direction means that you spend more time on your tasks and on deciding what you need to do next. You also feel less accomplished at the end of the day because you had to postpone certain chores and projects.
A realistic daily to-do list can help you stay on schedule and get everything done. You will also know which tasks you simply won’t be able to fit in and plan your schedule accordingly. You just need 5 to 10 minutes to go through the tasks and create a small to-do list on the night before your workday. Be sure to include everything from big work projects to small grocery store visits.
2. Schedule chunks of time
According to a study conducted by Microsoft, if you’re interrupted or distracted while working on a task, it takes at least 15 minutes for you to focus again. That’s why it’s essential to schedule chunks of time and make sure you’re not disturbed during this period. You should shut-off your social media, place your phone on silent, and remove all distractions from your immediate surroundings.
During this scheduled time, you should maintain your focus on the task at hand and get it done. After the task is accomplished, you can reward yourself with a small break and do something else.
Modern entrepreneurs and professionals often struggle with this. They try to do everything themselves and don’t delegate tasks to their employees or fellow team members, even when they’re overwhelmed by work. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks that can be handled well by other members of your team or employees.
Professionals who learn to delegate well often finish projects quickly and stay ahead of the game. They’re also more aware of the full potential of their team or employees and help build a strong work culture in their office.
4. Stop multitasking
Many people mistakenly assume that multitasking helps them save time and get things done quickly. Nothing could be further from the truth. As mentioned earlier, the brain takes at least 15 minutes to refocus when you switch tasks. When you work on two things at the same time, you’re forced to switch focus continuously, with an obvious knock-on effect on your productivity.
Instead of multitasking, focus your attention on one task at a time and get it done. You’ll be less distracted and will avoid making mistakes. You’ll also get everything done at a steady pace and still have some time to take breaks in between tasks.
5. Don’t be a perfectionist
Perfectionism is perhaps the biggest obstacle to productivity and can cause a lot of stress. It’s not really possible to be absolutely perfect at everything. You just need to focus all your attention on the task before you and do your best. As long as the results are good and your customers are satisfied, you don’t need to worry about getting everything absolutely right.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on quality. There’s a difference between making sure your work is up to standards and setting impossible standards. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll never be satisfied with your work and always find flaws in it. That is something you should avoid at all costs.
Almost every article and guide on this subject will recommend that you get a sufficient amount of sleep if you want to stay productive. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day and if you don’t reach that quota, you will add to your sleep deficit. This deficit will eventually slow you down and have an impact on your productivity.
If you follow these tips, you’ll get more work done efficiently and still have some time on your hands to sit back and relax. Smart organizing and prioritizing is the best way to improve productivity. However, you should also keep in mind that there’s a limit to how much you can do. Don’t expect too much from yourself and take on more than you can handle – the last thing you want to do is burn out. Be kind to yourself, work productively, and you’ll get results with none (or at least a lot less) of the stress!
By Ashley Andrews