Another long day just ended after you struggled to meet another deadline. Your inbox is overflowing, and there are messages that you should have returned three days ago. This doesn’t just describe your life. Many just like you are trying and failing to complete an endless list of tasks. And it seems that the harder everyone works, the farther they fall behind and the worse they feel.
Whether you talk to your neighbors or maintenance mechanics in Painesville, you’ll hear them asking the same question: “How can we be more efficient, without the extra stress, using the limited time that’s available to us?”
Time management experts have looked at these issues for years and have come up with a list of suggestions that just might answer that question. Try some of them, and before you know it, you’ll be getting home in time for dinner.
Have a plan
Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan the rest of your day. Make a list and schedule tasks. Prepare for what lies ahead. Research shows that when you write things down, your chances of achieving them are much higher.
You don’t have to depend on technology, either. Checking off tasks in a simple notebook can give you a sense of satisfaction. And if you are tech-savvy, there are plenty of apps—Workflow and Trello, for instance—that are useful for tracking to-do lists.
While to-do lists are a useful component of time management, you need to remember that not all tasks on the list hold the same importance. To become more productive, you will need to assign more weight to strategic tasks and give the brainless tasks your lowest priority
Some days you’re not on your game, other times you can be sharp for twelve straight hours. Learn to take advantage of your good days and to delegate when you’re not in the zone. That’s one of the secrets to being effective.
Keep your focus
Multitasking kills your focus. You may wear your ability to multitask like a badge of honor, but you’re only fooling yourself. The human brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, so when you’re typing an email to a customer while you’re on the phone with a supplier, neither one of them is receiving your best.
Studies have shown that a woman’s IQ drops ten points when she’s multitasking, and it’s a fifteen-point drop for men! The brain uses energy as it readjusts focus from one task to another. So, stay focused and quit exhausting your mind.
Not to oversimplify the problem of putting things off, but sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking about something so long that the task now seems overwhelming and it’s harder to get started. It’s usually better to stop thinking and start doing.
Procrastination is a terrible time waster. You need to become aware of when you’re doing it, and immediately take steps to regain your momentum by working on something—anything!