It’s a New Year and time to get productive. Instead of unrealistic resolutions why not focus on hot tips that will make you more efficient and effective?
An essential first step is taking a bit of time to look at your workflows and habits to pinpoint where you can ramp up. And remember, that the ultimate productivity often depends on you forming and following solid habits. This injects routine into your work world.
Productivity depends on having a to-do list and understanding what must be tackled first. Many methods are available to help with this, including the well-known Eisenhower Matrix (check out video tutorials and other articles online).
This management tool helps you get into the right frame of mind. It gets you organised by prioritising tasks by urgency and importance, using 4 quadrants:
- Do (urgent/important)—these important and urgent tasks must be handled now. Be diligent about this and don’t get distracted by other items on your to-do list.
- Schedule (important/not urgent)—these important but non-urgent tasks can be scheduled with firm dates.
- Delegate (urgent/not important)—these urgent but not important tasks need to be completed now but by someone else since they likely don’t require your skill set.
- Delete (not urgent/not important)—these unimportant, non-urgent tasks might well just be deleted.
Other time-management matrixes are readily available. Choose the one that’s best for you given that not all organisational design methods are perfect.
Colour code your tasks
Part of the Eisenhower Matrix is the need to stay on track through a glance, by assigning colours to your tasks based on the level of priority. The colour scheme is up to you, but you could, for example, use green for the highest priority, yellow for the next level, blue for the next and red for items that aren’t urgent or important.
Now that you have your matrix or method of management established, check the ‘delegate’ section and action it quickly so progress begins on multiple levels at the same time. You may want to discuss this with colleagues or management—or in a team meeting—to determine the capacity of your organisation to lend quality support.
Schedule time in
Your calendar is worth its weight in gold and isn’t just a place to schedule meetings with others. You’re in complete control of your calendar. Block off time to get things done, so you don’t get stressed, miss deadlines or put your organisation at risk.
Block time out and protect it. Include breaks so you maintain your energy and enthusiasm.
Manage your phone time
We all know that our mobiles can be a massive distraction, so start 2024 by taking charge. Use silent mode wisely and decide to check your phone periodically instead of being reactive to every single call or text. It takes valuable time to re-focus after every distraction, and this adds up throughout the day. It’s a real time waster.
Kickstart your day on a positive note
Developing a positive, consistent routine so you start each workday in a motivating and energising way. This can also keep you focused. Perhaps start off each morning by taking 5 to read something inspirational that relates to your work. Say hello to colleagues. Grab a cuppa. Check your to-do matrix and then get stuck into it. Running into the office in a panic doesn’t set a positive tone.
Breathe and take breaks
It goes unsaid that taking short breaks and quality lunch breaks are fabulous ways to recharge. Some people love the Pomodoro Technique, but there are other methods to explore.
The Pomodoro Technique is designed around improving productivity. Work for 25 minutes, focusing on a single task if possible. Then ‘take 5’ to rest. Repeat 3 more times and then take a longer break, say 15 minutes. If this doesn’t work for you, check out other methods for injecting breaks into your daily routine.
Don’t skip lunch. Eat healthy food (we all know what junk food does to our bodies and energy levels). Avoid overloading your system with caffeine. Drinks lots of water. Get outside for fresh air and a walk.
Evaluate your progress
After each break, quickly evaluate your progress. This will help keep you on track and maintain a sense of momentum.
Top off your day with a pat on the back
Aim to leave work on time and avoid burning the midnight oil. Before you turn off your computer and head home, reflect on what you’ve achieved during the day. Pat yourself on the back for your progress. You may or may not have completed everything, but you still deserve a thumb’s up for what you have accomplished.