-Follow through on the basics of organizing your time and your tasks.
Nothing is worse than feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do. A close second is when something critical falls through the cracks.
Productivity is about narrowing down choices. The biggest threat to your productivity is having too many. The trick is to choose which tasks are essential to your goals and decide how much time to spend on each.
Whether you’re a leader looking to make the best use of your time or a professional striving for career advancement, mastering the basics of productivity is a game-changer.
There are a lot of productivity methods. They all include these essentials:
Step 1: Be Clear About Your Goals. Productivity soars when you have clear goals. When you don’t, you get sidetracked by whatever is in front of you. Clear goals make all your efforts focused and productive!
Step 2: Get Everything Out Of Your Head. Your brain is best utilized to think and create. Don’t squander its capacity wasting precious brain space with a to-do list. You only add to your stress. Clear your mind by putting every task, professional and personal, on a list. If the sheer size of a to-do list is overwhelming, worry not. It won’t be as soon as you take the next step.
Step 3: Prioritize with Purpose. With clear goals, it becomes evident that not everything on your list has the same importance and urgency. Borrowing from the wisdom of the Eisenhower Matrix, separate your tasks into one of the following four categories according to each criterion:
- DO: urgent and important – time is of the essence and vital to achieving your goals
- DECIDE: important but not urgent – vital to your goals but have some extra time
- DELEGATE: urgent but not important – time is of the essence but not vital to your goals
- DELETE: not urgent and not important – can be done anytime and not vital to your goals
Focus on #1 and #2 first, followed by #3, and let #4 fall by the wayside.
Step 4: Time Blocking. Here’s the secret to making to-do lists efficient. Give yourself a certain amount of time to complete each task. If you leave it open-ended, you will linger way too long. Learn to do and accept your best within the time allotted.
Step 5: Schedule Everything. Put all tasks with time deadlines on a calendar alongside meetings and phone calls. Once it’s on the calendar, it becomes a concrete commitment. Remember, larger jobs can be broken down into several smaller ones completed at different times to make their accomplishment more doable.
Be sure some type of well-being activity is on your list of urgent and important tasks (breaks, exercise, meditation, etc.). You’re not a machine; you’re a human being and must take care of yourself to stay productive.
Limit distractions that can throw you off track. Keep your work environment peaceful by turning off notifications, silencing phones, closing email browsers, etc.
Use digital tools and apps that genuinely make your life easier and more productive, not more complicated.
Regularly reflect on what’s working and not working in your productivity strategies. Don’t pressure yourself to be an efficient machine. Instead, consider any improvement a win and seek to continuously improve over time.
Finally, the faster you begin with these productivity basics, the sooner you’ll feel better with a handle on getting things done.
Productivity begins with clear goals that streamline the process of to-do lists and decisions on prioritization, deadlines and scheduling. When you know where you’re going, it’s easier to make better choices on how to get there.
Work Your Authentic Genius. Which of these basics will make the biggest difference in helping you get things done?
Jo-Aynne Von Born, Leadership and Executive Coach