Productivity is really an art and thorough the years I have tested out different techniques and realised that some work for me and some others simply don’t. I don’t think that all strategies work the same for everybody as we are all different. But at the end of the day I like simple and clean techniques that will help me to make the most of my days without going crazy. Don’t we all?
Last week I gave some tips on how to improve your productivity with these simple tips:
- Find your own system and focus on the process, not only the goals.
- Find your ideal work routine and stick to it. Your body will get used to it.
- Stop multitasking and respect your time
- Assign a time limit to each task and divide the task in chunks if it is not doable in that time.
- There is always time in the day; you just have to choose your priorities wisely.
Read more in my previous post:
This week I would like to focus on the not so obvious tips that will make all the difference in your daily life. We all have busy lives but nobody likes the feeling you get when you have been extremely busy and yet, you haven’t accomplished as much as you wanted to.You try your best but you don’t seem to manage the workload that you are carrying on your shoulders. This could be caused by two possible reasons:
1.- You were not organised enough and gave priority to tasks that were not a priority. This means that you may have been very busy, but with low priority tasks or other people’s tasks. You end up feeling very tired as you did work, just not on what you should have been using your time for.
2.- The objectives you have are unrealistic and you have way too much on your plate. There are times when we set up goals that are truly unachievable and when we feel stressed we wonder what are we doing wrong, if there is anything we should do differently, etc… The answer to this is: YES. What you should do differently is to analyse if it is really humanly possible to do all that amount of work and not be stressed. If the answer to that is NO you have two options:
–Delegate and ask for help. It sounds easier said than done, but life is too short. We have to learn to collaborate and to delegate. Otherwise companies would be managed by one CEO without employees. We need each other to do great things and if your workload is too big you should delegate as your own life and the result of the work will benefit as well.
-Analyse what you are doing and set some boundaries and limits of what you will do. Realise what are your priorities and stick to that. Anything outside that may fall into an excess of the capacity that you have to offer in a certain job or day. Sometimes we put ourselves under pressure, some other times the pressure comes from an external source. But it is important to understand that oftentimes companies do not realise that a person is carrying that much workload until the person makes it visible to them. If on the contrary you work for a company that knows this and expect you to stop living and only work, well, the choice is yours but Stress will be your best companion on that journey. The reason for this is that we all need balance and time off doing different things. We are not machines and our brain need different stimulus in order to work properly. If you don’t have a balanced lifestyle, you will not be as sharp in your daily life as you may want to be.
So, some of the tips of this week are:
1. Schedule breaks, free time and meetings with yourself.
Free time is necessary to recharge the batteries (quite literally). We need breaks for the same reason as it is not possible to focus and be productive for long periods without making mistakes. And we should all have ‘meetings with ourselves’ early in the morning or late in the evening (as we are usually free in those times) to decide what we want to do with our day. I will write a post about How to do this but we should take the time to strategise also in our lives and think about what we like and enjoy and make time for it. Otherwise we run the risk to live on autopilot not really doing what we desire the most.
2. When you don’t feel like working at all, start with the smallest task
It is easier to get the motivation going if you start with something really small. It never feels like a big commitment but it always helps to start small.
3. Doing is better than perfect
As a recovering perfectionist I know a thing or two about not doing things because I won’t do them perfectly. But these days I embrace my imperfections and do things even when it is not perfect. It happened with this blog, a project that has been in my mind for years and that I haven’t dared to start until I decided that I will share my tips, my view of life even if it was very far from perfect . It is about the journey, the process, not about the goal. We are all students in life, and if we are lucky, we will always be.
4. Separate brainless/automatic/repetitive tasks from strategic/creative ones.
This one is the most amazing advice that I have ever received. We all have tasks that are automatic, like replying to emails or entering data. Sometimes it is better to group them together but to divide them in these 2 categories. Why? Because we don’t need the same mental energy for both type of tasks. In my case, I need to do strategic and creative tasks in the morning as my mind is fresh and it is easy for me to complete these tasks early than later in the evening. In the evening it is quite easy for me to complete tasks that don’t need much attention or creativity.
5. Break crazy big goals into smaller tasks (long live the list!)
When you have a huge project, it is wise to take a moment to strategize how you plan to complete it . Use bullet points and divide the project in parts. Then assign the smaller bullet points to different days for a week and see how you do. Sometimes, in our head, we think we may be able to accomplish more or less than we actually can, so it is good to test it out for a week and get an objective idea about the time that you need to invest in the project in order to complete it.
6. Work on the task that will have the biggest impact first
This is about prioritising again, but in order to know this you will need to analyse what would bring the biggest impact. Take some minutes every day to think about what you will do in the day (for work and for fun). And then simply follow through.
7. Learn to delegate and to politely say: NO.
Delegating is a necessity and to say NO as well. Discern when you need to say No and simply do it as it is a sign of respect for your own time and boundaries. It is not a bad thing that sometimes tasks get done by other people instead of you. Don’t treat your duties or tasks like they are your babies and learn to detach and to see them in a more objective light. It will help you with the task itself and to be able to delegate it more easily.
Some other times you will simply need to say NO as you may not have the time, the capacity and a person to delegate the tasks to, or it may not even be your place to assign that task to someone. In those cases, a polite NO is totally ok. I give work examples but this ability is totally transferable to daily life and personal relationships. Sometimes we simply prefer to do other things and use our free time in a different way.
Do you have any productivity tip that was not shown here? Please share with us! Would love to hear it! Share it on the comments below and thank you for reading!