Overwhelmed by constant deadlines, an ever-expanding to-do list, and hundreds of new emails every single day?
It’s a productivity killer.
A while back, I uncovered a valuable piece of wisdom:
Do less, get more done.
There is logic behind this. Let me rephrase:
Do less trivial tasks, get more important work done.
To get more important work done, you need to refocus your energy and time on reaching your bigger goals. And make that a priority every single day.
Over the years, I’ve worked out a useful method. Want to try it for yourself? Here’s how:
- 1. Identify your most important tasks for the next day the evening before.
- 2. Prioritize your tasks in order of importance.
- 3. Focus on completing your most important task first. Then (and only then), move onto your other tasks in order of importance.
- 4. Identify unimportant daily tasks and plot these into your daily schedule at set points during the day.
- 5. Incorporate time for regular breaks and intersperse these throughout the day.
The tricky part is putting it into practice. Let’s explore some of the key components of this process.
Always set goals the day before
If you set goals the day before, you wake up in the right mindset to complete those tasks. On the other hand, if you don’t have a plan, you will spend your most productive hours thinking about what to do rather than doing it. Don’t make this mistake and plan ahead.
By planning, I don’t just mean having an idea of what you will do. Personally, I like to write down my key priorities for the next day. This helps me stay focused. I know when I have promised myself to do something, I am determined to complete it. So, write it down.
Stay focused on your most important tasks
When you are doing important work, you need to dedicate all your energy to it. That means no multitasking or distractions.
There’s a good reason why you should complete your most important tasks first. It helps you stay focused on completing your most important work before unexpected events arise.
Avoid the temptation to open any potentially distracting medium during this time, including messages, apps and email. I like to switch my phone alerts off and only enable notifications from important people.
Approach every task with purpose
You should approach every task with purpose, whether that be an important project, answering an email or taking a break. If you are doing a creative project it could mean having the focus to produce high quality work, and intersperse this with breaks to overcome creative ruts. If you are answering emails, your purpose might be to answer customer queries as quickly as possible.
Once you know your purpose, act on it. If your purpose is to get the task done as quick as possible, don’t spend time overthinking it. If your goal is producing a quality piece, don’t jeopardize a brilliant piece to save time.
That said, I do like to set strict time limits for each task to avoid unnecessary procrastination. I find that I get small unimportant tasks done quicker when I set a limited time to complete it. It also helps to avoid overthinking meaty tasks as I can break it down into small periods and keep coming back to it with a fresh perspective.
Revive with short breaks throughout the day
If you are to approach your tasks with intensity, you need to take breaks to refuel your energy. Failing to do this will make you exhausted, unproductive and moody.
It is especially helpful if you are doing creative work. Breakthrough ideas occur when you least expect it. That’s because you need time to think without pressure. You need time to reevaluate what you have already done. Taking a break will help you to do that.
Try to do something completely different that takes your mind off the task you are completing. You’ll come back with a refreshed mind and possibly a new perspective.
How do you get more work done in less time? It’s a matter of mindset, aided by smart planning. You should approach each task seriously with ferocious energy. And balance this with complete relaxation and recuperation so you are ready to approach the next task with high energy.
Now go back to the top of this article and consider how you will incorporate these ideas into your daily agenda. Then try it for yourself and look forward to reaching your goals quicker.