HOW TO PLAN A PRODUCTIVE WORKDAY
More often than not, 24 hours in the life of an entrepreneur, seems like not enough time to carry out all the activities he/she has scheduled for that day. There is usually so much work to be done but not enough time to do all of them. The irony of this is the fact that 24 hours is more than enough time to get a really productive day and still have time to rest and attend to some other things for fun. The secret to this is simple – WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER. Vouchercloud carried out a recent study on how productive an average worker can be in a span of an eight-hour workday and the results allegedly came to 2 hours, 53 minutes. If this is supposedly true, how then can we make maximum use of this time to carry out great productive work?
Here are some tips to help do the trick:
- HAVE A PRACTICAL TO-DO LIST: A to-do list is one of the keys to efficiently maximise your time to be productive because it keeps you on track to realize your set goals, be it long or short term. In scheduling your tasks on this list, it is paramount that you have your most important tasks at the top of the list and other minor tasks at the bottom. This guides you in prioritizing intelligently, the tasks that require your immediate attention and keeps you more focused on being very organised and productive. You can see this from the angle of utilizing the 80/20 Pareto Principle which asserts that 80% of your results comes from 20% of your work. In his book, Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy proposes the ABCDE method as an effective way of prioritizing a to-do list:
“A” signifies “very important” — something you must do. Serious negative consequences will result if the task is not completed.
“B” signifies “important” — something you should do. This level of task is not as important as your A tasks; only minor negative consequences will result if it is not completed.
“C” signifies tasks that are “nice to accomplish;” but not as vital as A or B tasks. There are no negative consequences for not completing this category of tasks.
“D” signifies “delegate.” D tasks should be delegated to someone else. Once you’ve delegated, don’t forget to follow up to make sure these items are on track.
“E” stands for “eliminate.” Non-essential tasks should be culled from your to-do list in order to free up your time to focus on the tasks that are higher in the hierarchy.
A to-do list protects you from being burdened by an overload of work. However, it is one thing to write down a to-do list and a totally different ball game to achieve these set tasks. That is why your list has to be a realistic one in which all the set tasks are achievable, otherwise, you run the risk of filling your list with tasks you have no intent to do. You can have more than one to-do list which can be set for varying times – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or even life goals. The important thing is to break these humongous tasks into simple achievable steps that can help you to easily achieve your goals. Be consistent with your list.
- DO ONE THING AT A TIME NOT MULTITASK: Contrary to the popular belief that most entrepreneurs have in thinking that multitasking results in more success in the modern workplace, research has shown that this is some misguided thinking. This is because in trying to accomplish more than one task all at the same time, may result in you not giving your 100% best to each individual task thereby doing the tasks haphazardly as against being done effectively if they had each been done with undivided attention. A neuroscience professor at MIT, Earl Miller said that concentrating on doing one task at a time, stimulates creative thinking as the brain is free to “follow a logical path of associated thoughts and ideas” without disturbance.
- REST AT INTERVALS: Trying to achieve all your set tasks for a stretch of hours might be uncomfortable or even take a toll on you. It is therefore advisable to try to take short breaks in between tasks or even when still on a task to allow for your brain to recuperate and rest a while before plunging back to work. Sometimes there are welcomed “necessary distractions” your brain desire especially if you have been at work for a long time. Don’t try to play the role of a superhuman and allowed yourself some rest time as you work. Going by the Pomodoro technique Pioneered by Francesco Cirillo in the early 1990s, 5-minute breaks is a very much welcome idea after every 25-minute period of intense work. The technique suggests that after four pomodoros (which is each 25-minute work periods,) a long break of 20 minutes is welcomed before the cycle begins again. The aim of this technique is to help one learn the habit of not getting easily distracted by other things but instead to focus on the specific task at hand. of deep focus and helps build a positive habit of ignoring external distractions, to focus on a specific and important task. If not the Pomodoro technique, you can also try taking a 10 – 20 minutes break every 90 minutes as science has shown that this is the maximum amount of time the average person can concentrate on a given task without experiencing diminishing returns.
Avoid killing time on social media and emails. These are some of the biggest distractions to productivity. If you are so addicted to social media, then apps like social media blocker tools such as Stay Focused for Chrome or OFFTIME can help you curtail the much time to dedicate to social media by allowing you set limits on access to social media and other distracting sites.
Ultimately, learn to work very smart, making maximum use of your time to have a productive day.
PHOTO CREDIT: CREATIVE BRANDING