It is likely that you have been in this situation: you start your morning off right, feeling good about your job and the day ahead, and then all of a sudden your to-do list seems endless and you don’t know where to start. We’ve all heard how important it is to prioritize your responsibilities and to find that balance between work and life, but what happens when most of your tasks are top priority? Said balance is easier said than done… However, you can do a few things to avoid a cluttered workload and smooth your to-do list out.
In the next few minutes, you will learn how to manage your time, tasks, and boost your productivity without having to be too hard on yourself and burn out.
1. Write down all the important goals
That feeling of drowning in tasks and endless to-do lists is because we are trying to keep it all in our mind, and by doing so. We fail to focus on one thing at a time, resulting in disorganized work and poor results. When you get that anxiety of having to get everything done and not knowing where to start, write everything down.
Pick a piece of paper or your agenda and write down everything you have in your mind at the moment. Then, start by organizing tasks by deadlines from the closest to the furthest. And then, subcategorize into how much time you need to dedicate said activities. With this method, you’ll be able to recognize which are your top priorities and identify what steps you need to take.
2. Take advantage of your first hour of the workday
The first hour of work is essential! Don’t spend it planning out your day, drinking a cup of coffee, or reading all your emails. Instead, plan out your first hour of work the day before, that way when you get to work, you are aware of what you need to get done right away. This way you will get a super productive kickstart to the day and feel motivated to continue with that energy throughout the day.
3. Do one thing at a time
This might be the most obvious of them all, but it sometimes can get difficult to not multitask. Picture yourself working on a project, you get an email from your coworker and you are wondering whether you should answer now or after you finish your current task. In these situations, try using David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology: when you get the email, can you respond in less than 2 minutes? If yes, then go ahead and answer your colleague. No? Then let them know they will receive a response in X amount of minutes, which is as long as you need to finish what you are doing at the moment and give them an answer.
Multitasking, while it sounds so powerful and polyvalent, can be a productivity killer.
4. Don’t open unimportant emails
Adding to points 2 and 3 above, schedule time to read emails throughout the day. 15 minutes mid-morning, then another few minutes after lunch and then another 15 at the end of your workday can be helpful to avoid reading unnecessary emails when you could be using that time to work on the other tasks on your to-do list.
5. Handle each task only once and never more than twice
Start working on a task to finish it. Do your biggest effort to identify how long exactly each task will take you to complete, and organize your day-to-day based on this calculation. You can choose from many time management methods – Pomodoro, Kanban, and track the time it takes you to finish a task – to use your time more efficiently and deliver more complete and less shallow results.
Read also: 7 Tips to Start Working Smarter, Not Harder
6. Set aside personal time during the day
Set strict boundaries between work and personal life, otherwise, these two will always keep blending. If you don’t have a set schedule at work, establish starting and finishing times for work, and respect them. If you do have set schedules at work, make sure to follow them. It’s okay if you were not able to finish one of the less urgent tasks one day, make sure to finish it the next day (always as long as you are still on time to meet the deadline).
Just as the time you set for your working hours, do the same for your personal time during the day. Take 15 minutes after lunch to do some stretches, or drink a cup of coffee nearby, or meditate. Whenever it’s the most comfortable for you, take time for yourself. Your brain needs to recharge and this will allow you to do so.
7. Take vacations often
This is a bit harder in our current situation, however, make sure that on the weekends or your free days you are doing things that will take your mind off of work. Vacations don’t necessarily mean going to a top 10 destination around the world, but it can be driving to a location near the place you live with friends or family, cooking your favorite meal, going on a picnic, or simply walking around the city.
The balance we usually talk about between work and life has also to do with your mind and body. Finding the balance is hard, and it can get frustrating if you don’t find it quickly, but as the saying goes, nothing good comes easy. Trust the process, follow the tips that work for you, and feel more productive than ever!
We hope you have found this article helpful. We think you might also be interested in reading these blogs about Career Advice: