Many of us have experienced the feeling of spinning our wheels when trying to work on something important and it seems like the hours of hard work have left the most minor of dents on the workload. What happened with all of the time you have spent working on the project? It can be overwhelming for anyone and it becomes even greater when you see a coworker with more to do making it look easy.
How? You might start to think whether it’s a matter of never procrastinating, or some other kind of time management tool. The good news is that there are five main killers of productivity that have been found in studies and each one can be fixed easily.
While having this skill at some level can be very useful, it can actually decrease your overall productivity when you try to juggle too many items simultaneously. Your mind can only handle so much information when you are going through the numerous voicemails, e-mails, and text messages that come in every day.
The solution – Simply, don’t try to multitask too much. Try to focus on specific tasks in order of severity and try your best to do just one at a time. You can always put your phone on silent and note that you are busy through the online messenger. It’s okay to do some multitasking when you are juggling maybe two or three things at a time; just don’t overwhelm yourself.
No established priorities
The worst thing you can do is not have a list of what should be done first on a timely basis. While you may have 50 e-mails you have to respond to, it’s best to get to the ones that are due that day or tomorrow first before taking care of tasks that have a deadline for the end of the week. Not having an established plan of what takes priority can be the easiest way to work ineffectively.
The solution – The first step is to make a list of everything that has to be done and then categorize them at different levels – like A, B, C and D. The items on the A-list are to be done first and nothing in B can be done until A is complete. Repeat this process for each letter list and you will find that you are getting more done in much more manageable chunks.
Working till burnt out
Ernest Hemingway once said that he would set a word limit of 4,000 words per day – no more and no less. The reason is that he wouldn’t be writing until he had nothing left and he gave himself a stopping point to pick up on the next day. That process does prevent burning out because you aren’t working yourself for eight hours straight and not giving your mind a chance to recover.
The solution – Make a schedule for your work day and adhere to it. Maybe set the time to work for 90 minutes straight before a small moment to stand up and walk around the office before going back to work.