Working more efficiently and effectively doesn’t necessarily mean big changes to the routine. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest impact. Here are 5 ideas to inspire you to achieve great success in 2018.
Like many people, I approached 2018 with a new year, new me attitude. But instead, I found myself ringing in the new year with the world’s worst cold (or possibly the flu, I’m still not sure). Although this seriously set me back a couple of weeks, I’m determined to accomplish my lofty first quarter plan by making several small changes to boost productivity. I’m sharing my 5 focus areas to inspire you to make great things happen too. Working more efficiently and effectively doesn’t necessarily mean big changes to the routine. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest impact.
1. Schedule Your Daily Tasks
Before you start each day, know your plan and schedule the key tasks. When you set simple goals for every single day, you tend to accomplish them (or most of them). Break down your complex projects into a series of tasks and then complete them one-at-a time.
Also, take advantage of your most productive time of the day. I tend to be most effective early in the morning as I’m sipping my coffee. Now, instead of slowly starting the day by scrolling through social media, I’ve been jumping right into my most challenging task first. This may not work for you, so come up with your own personal system – perhaps block off time to finish the entire task or set the clock for an hour and work without distractions.
2. Check Email Periodically
Checking emails compulsively can be a big waste of valuable time. It’s distracting and takes you away from what you’re working on. This is a big challenge for me, as I like to be responsive. But, I’m learning that in many instances, emails are really fulfilling other people’s to-do list – not my own. So instead of checking emails every few minutes, I’m blocking off dedicated time to focus on emails twice in the morning, and once in the afternoon and evening. I can’t say that I’m following this mantra every day, but I when I do stick to the schedule, I’m usually hitting all my daily goals.
3. Stay Off Social Media
Social media can be another BIG waste of valuable time. Yesterday, I went to Facebook to check a client’s page for specific information and before I knew it 45 minutes had gone by and I was on a random website signing up for an email newsletter. Don’t go down the rabbit hole - seriously! It can be challenging to go several hours or even the entire day without checking your feeds. I started keeping my phone away from my desk so there’s no temptation and it’s amazing how much work can get done. This can be a simple way to really boost your productivity.
4. Set Aside Time to Exercise
With a to-do list that’s a mile long, I will sit at my desk for hours and hours without a break trying to do it all. It’s challenging for me to step away - even for just a few minutes to exercise. But, research shows that regular exercise has tons of benefits. Exercise improves physical and mental health, increases memory, boosts your mood and energy level, reduces stress and can even inspire creativity. The easiest way to get exercise is to just schedule it. Add it to the calendar and make it happen. In just a few days you’ll see the benefits when you come back recharged with great new ideas.
5. Stop Multi-Tasking
I’ve been saying for years that multi-tasking means doing two things poorly and it’s true. Trying to do more than one thing at a time is just not productive. Plus, recent research found that jumping from task to task more than 10 times a day, drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Focus only on one task at a time and I bet you’ll notice a big difference in your productivity.
Plan Your Work and Then Work Your Plan
All my suggestions are linked to scheduling your daily activities and sticking to your plan. While this sounds inflexible, it doesn’t have to be. View your daily plan as a framework that can adjusted and changed as needed. This way when you have a sick child, a flat tire or an emergency meeting, you can shuffle your priorities to the big picture for the week rather than the “wasted” day.
And keep in mind the alternative – if you make no changes, nothing will change. Find what works for you with an eye for the small activities that can have a BIG impact. Increasing your productivity in 2018 will make it your best year yet!
Diana is a content marketing strategist and virtual marketing director specialized in financial services. She has 20 years of marketing expertise, including campaigns for top brands such as Johnson’s Baby and Band-Aid.