Here’s a short list of a some strategies that I use to stay on top of my work and get more done in less time:
1. Write out a to-do list everyday
Every morning as soon as you get into work, spend about 10-15 minutes writing out both small and major tasks that you would like to accomplish today. Then prioritize your tasks on importance. Having a list in front of you will remind you all day of what needs to be done. You also get the satisfaction of crossing out a task when it’s finished or putting a giant check mark beside it
2. Cut back the socializing
Similar to when you’re at home, there are many distractions around. People are time wasters. Make sure that you carve out a bit of socializing time (on your lunch or breaks) and when your co-workers approach you at your desk tell them “you’re busy” or put your headphones on (even if you don’t listen to music). People won’t bother you if you look busy and you can stay focused on finishing your work.
3. Organize your desk & desktop
If your desk is a mess or you have files scattered all over your desktop, spend 5 minutes everyday cleaning up. Just like working at home in a messy room, you will likely be 10x more distracted with an unorganized workspace.
4. Set your own deadlines
Even if your boss gives you a task or project that’s due a few weeks from now, set small deadlines everyday to ensure that you are spreading out the project and not leaving it until last minute. Break the project up into subtasks then write out a checklist of everything that needs to be done and set dates when you will finish. If you’re managing someone or a team, use the same strategy and set small deadlines so you have a chance to review the work along the way.
5. Reward yourself
This tip is the most useful one in my opinion. Give yourself little rewards after a task is complete to help you stay motivated. Whether it’s getting up for a coffee or reading an article in your favourite magazine, give yourself 5 minutes to do something enjoyable after you’ve finished something (big or small).
All these strategies are helpful, but none are useful unless you actually apply them. Seth Godin brings up some good points in his post on The reason productivity improvements don’t work (as well as they could).
GTD, 18 minute plans, organized folders… none of them work as well as you’d like. The reason is simple: you don’t want to get more done.You’re afraid. Getting more done would mean exposing yourself to considerable risk, to crossing bridges, to putting things into the world. Which means failure. Until you quiet the resistance and commit to actually shipping things that matter, all the productivity tips in the world aren’t going to make a real difference.
So get over your fear of failure and confidently start producing quality work.