Ï work so hard… why do I feel that I’m not getting enough done, or always missing deadlines?” It’s not enough to work hard; you have to work SMART. Use these time management and productivity tricks to help you meet your goals.
1) Stop multi-tasking.
Neurologists say there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Your brain is designed to focus on one problem at a time, and whenever you switch tasks you force it to quickly recall what it needed and then gather information all over again. If you keep doing this throughout the day, you will start to feel brain fatigue. You have lower concentration, memory and comprehension. It’ll take you longer to finish your work, and are more likely to make mistakes (which waste even more time!)
Tackle one task at a time, and complete it before moving on. Most people are interrupted by emails, chat boards and phone calls. To prevent this, turn off notifications and just check your messages three times a day.
2) Get out of perfection paralysis.
Perfectionism does not help your performance. You spend too much time on one task, and become emotionally drained from worry and anxiety. So even if you were able to finish do one thing well, you’re running late on everything else on your to-do list (and probably have a stress headache, too).
Not everything has to be done perfectly. Set a priority system: what tasks are critical and need most of my effort and attention, and what do you just need to barrel through?
3) Don’t say YES to everything.
Be realistic about what you can achieve. If your boss gives you another assignment and you’re already groaning from the existing workload, say: “I want to do this well. What are my deadlines? Can we readjust the other deadlines so I can focus on this?”
4) Manage your meetings.
Always ask for an agenda for any meeting that you’re required to attend. Give a time limit, too: “We need to finish the meeting by 3pm so I can work on a report.” This forces everyone to stick to the discussion.
If you’re the one calling the meeting, ask yourself if you can meet your goal by emailing, speaking to people one on one on the phone, or asking for a report. You can also start using project management software which can help you see the progress of a task without gathering everyone for an update.
5) Prevent physical burnout.
For you to do well, your body and mind needs to be in tip-top shape. Get enough sleep, and don’t hit the snooze button when the alarm rings (you’ll just feel irritable and groggy when you do get out of bed). Start the day with a balanced and healthy breakfast. During the day, get up and walk around every few hours to get your circulation and energy going. Then, no matter how much work you have, don’t be tempted to stay up all night just to “catch up.” You’ll be slow and unproductive the next day. The smarter alternative is to rest and work with greater focus and resolve when you wake up.