Getting through the workday is tough. Sometimes it feels like there just isn’t enough time to finish everything that needs to be done. For some people, being productive and getting everything finished comes naturally. For others, it’s a skill that needs to be practiced every day until they find the method that works best for them. Well, there are a lot of hacks available to help you re-prioritize your life and start getting more done everyday.
Declutter Your Desk and Remove All Distractions
A cluttered desk will do nothing but overwhelm you. So, the best thing you can do for you workspace is to clean it up. Remove any unnecessary junk that’s just taking up space (old Starbucks cups, outdated paperwork, etc.). If it’s something you haven’t used in a month, get rid of it.
You should also remove any and all distractions from your workplace. This area should be for work and nothing but work. So, when you’re sitting at your desk, you need to silence your cell phone, log off Facebook, and change your status to “Do Not Disturb” on Skype. You should also avoid reading or watching the news right before you begin your tasks for the day. If there’s an interesting story trending, it’s going to stay in your brain and pull focus from what needs to be completed.
Make a To-Do List the Night Before
You don’t need to buy an expensive planner to map out every task that needs to be done. Many find it easier to create planners by hand so that it fits their exact needs, like YouTube personality Kalel Cullen. It doesn’t need to be fancy as long as you write down your tasks for the day.
While the App Store offers hundreds of to-do list applications, it’s better if you write everything out by hand. This gives you the chance to map out everything on your own terms and find the organization method that works best for you. Plus, there’s no better feeling than physically crossing something off your to-do list.
Don’t Take on as Many Projects
It’s okay to say “no” if someone asks you to do something. If you take on too much work, you’ll get overwhelmed and it’s going to make it a lot harder to focus on one project at a time. You don’t owe anyone else your time, so use your time to focus on the most important projects of your own. Think of your workload as driving on the highway. When there’s only one or two cars in sight, then traffic is going to move faster and you’ll encounter fewer problems along the way. But as more cars merge onto the highway, everything starts to slow down and you face more complications–like traffic jams or accidents.
Use the 80/20 Method
The Pareto Principle is the belief that only 20 percent of the work you take on will account for 80 percent of your results. This means, you should only focus on the most important tasks on your list if you want to make the most of your time.
The Pareto Principle was born when Vilfredo Pareto released a study proving that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Later, he realized this ratio could be applied to different aspects of life. You can use his method to increase your work productivity on a daily basis. Very few things make an impact on our lives. So, if you want to start getting more done in a day start focusing on the 20 percent of vital tasks instead of the 80 percent of trivial tasks you encounter everyday. The Pareto Method is going to force you to re-prioritize and eliminate trivial tasks like:
- Saying “yes” to every coffee meeting you’re invited to.
- Checking and answering your emails more than twice a day.
- Trying to teach yourself how to do something instead of hiring a professional.
To determine what the most important project of the day is, you have to ask yourself what you want to achieve. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to eliminate any other task that won’t directly affect finishing that project. The more work you put into finishing this one project, the better your final result will be.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Developed in the early 1990s by Frances Cirillo, The Pomodoro Technique is designed to help you hyperfocus on a project in small spurts of time. It works because it takes a big project and breaks it into small 25-minute intervals. These short sprints help keep your focus on the project and the 5 minute breaks help keep you motivated to finish the project.
How it Works:
- Start by picking a project to work on. It doesn’t matter if it’s a proposal you need to finish for a meeting or your thesis paper for your Masters. Pick one project, put your phone on silent, and let everyone who might contact you know that you’re working and you’ll get back to them when you’re finished.
- Set your timer for 25 minutes. It can be an egg timer, a stopwatch, or your phone.
- Work on the project you chose in step 1. During the next 25 minutes, this project should be the only thing you’re thinking about.
- Once the timer goes off, stop working, and place a check mark on your piece of paper.
- You’re going to repeat steps 1 through 4 four times. After that, you’re going to take a 15 to 30 minute break.
Not every technique will work for everyone. You should experiment with a variety of productivity hacks and methods until you find the one that works best for you. The most important hack to remember is that you don’t owe anyone your time. If you take on too much work then you’re not going to be able to give each project the time it deserves. The less you take on, the better the final results will be. There’s only 24 hours in a day so it’s up to your to make the most of them.