There is not one solution, no life hack, no easily implemented quick fix to improve your productivity.
The truth is that building a way of working that increases effective time management is a journey. A journey which should be one of self-discovery and not of strife.
You are not a machine, you are a human, and part of our charm as humans is that we are all different.
Unfortunately, we cannot just find a small dial on our bodies and turn it to maximum output. We have to understand how we work, and what additions to our daily routine would best complement our ability to perform to our maximum, consistently.
With this in mind, it would make zero sense for me to just do this article by myself and list things that I know works for me.
To widen the spectrum, I dropped myself into various inboxes to grab as many top tips from as many different people as I could, therefore delivering you recommendations which are more likely to contain a few winners for your style!
Here are the recommendations that came from my research:
Ding Ding Ding!
If we were playing Family Fortunes or Family Feud or whatever it’s called wherever you get your TV gameshows, then this would be the top answer.
It turns out, planning your days and knowing what you will be doing and when is the golden rule to maintaining consistent productivity… sounds pretty obvious doesn’t it?
Well if you have been operating schedule-less, do not kick yourself!
It can be so easy to adopt a freestyle approach especially as much of what is happening around us seems so chaotic and without order.
However, planning out your week ahead can really bring some well needed structure to your efforts.
Advice that was shared with me during my research focused on scheduling a week at a time, the purpose being that you will have an expectation of what each day will hold, and what you are going to be looking to achieve.
That being said, it’s often unhelpful to schedule every single minute of every single day. Leave yourself some wiggle room so that you are ready for whatever the day throws your way, and also so that you are not going back to back for the entire day.
When speaking to the contingent of my research who are also home schooling, it could not have
been made clearer how important this step is.
Take a Break
There is a really easy trap that you can stumble into here.
You are battling fears in your head that you are not achieving as much as other people during this time. So, to combat this, you fight with yourself to knuckle down.
You metaphorically strap yourself to your chair and go full speed, tunnel visioned into every possible task.
I repeat. You are not a machine! Breaks are a crucial way of refreshing our body and mind and protecting ourselves from burnout. In our current circumstances, stress can build fast, and taking time out is an effective way of relieving it before it gets overwhelming.
How you spend your breaks though depends on what will give you that release.
From my research, I got suggestions that included:
– Making a hot drink.
– Doing an exercise routine.
– Putting on a song you love, turning up the volume and busting moves like no one is looking.
Rewards For Completing Tasks
The ol’ carrot on a stick technique… except you actually get the carrot at the end.
This one is rather similar to the previous recommendation; however, the difference comes in mindset. You may take a break during a task to take the pressure off, and in addition, you may set aside a reward for yourself once you complete the task.
This can be especially helpful when you are procrastinating. That reward could be the motivation you need to not just get started, but also see the whole task through to conclusion.
Suggested rewards included:
– Cup of tea (Very British)
– Chocolate Bar (Of course)
– Taking that task off your to-do list! (The satisfaction!)
Did we leave anything behind when moving from our offices to home working?
Laptop? No got that.
Desk? Nope got one.
Of course, you are not going to house all of your work mates at your house, however, think of what you are missing out on not having them around.
It can be really helpful to have regular contact with others to maintain your productivity. A social interaction could contain the energy boost you need right now to power you forward. It may also contain some extra perspective and insight that could make the most arduous task, so much simpler.
The 5 Minute Rule
Commit at least five minutes of every working day to everything that needs your attention. Of course, for some things you will go way over the five minutes, however it is a sure-fire way of carving away at all the items on your to-do list and ensuring nothing is left behind.
When you have a meeting booked for the afternoon, does it stay in the back of your mind until it arrives?
If so, then this could be for you.
Where possible, setting most or all of your meetings in the morning means that you can start your day with the commitments that are usually landmarks in your calendar. Following these meetings, you may have actions that you can perform immediately, as you have time ahead of you and the content of your call is fresh in your mind.
Also, the meeting could fuel you to tackle your afternoon schedule with greater motivation.
If you are not feeling productive, it may be because your thought process is proving inconsistent. Why not then add a bit of rhythm?
Different genres may help or hinder your levels of concentration; however it could be worth trying until you find some beats that work for you.
My personal recommendations would be dependent on the task you are performing. If it is a creative task, I like to crank up some Tropical House. If the task however is more pragmatic in nature, then I typically go for some Rock music.
Time management is an art which some master much easier than others.
Despite this, please go easy on yourself! It can be incredibly easy to become overly self-critical and to not appreciate all of the good that you are doing.
Remember to take off the pressure when it is getting too much. You are doing fantastically to adapt to the situation you are in, and you can only do your best. If the feeling of frustration is beginning to take over, then look to adjust slightly. Practise some mindfulness, go for a walk or do whatever refuels you. Just change things up and go again!
Alex & The Excel Team
P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.
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