How are you going to get more done during busy season? If you can’t spend your off hours socializing as much as you used to, of course you can do more work, right?! Before you try to do more than you should, let’s examine our processes and see if we can carve out a little more time in our schedules.
#1: Examine time and motion to get things started
It’s an oxymoron to take time to save time; however, I have found that this is exactly what it does. If you’re not prepared, you will waste time. I’d like to call this an investment in order to see a return on investment in time. Officially, a time-motion study is a systematic observation, analysis, and measurement of the separate steps in the performance of a specific job for the purpose of establishing a standard time for each performance, improving procedures, and increasing productivity. Here’s a YouTube visual you can check out from the creator of a time-motion study.
#2: Establish SMART goals
Creating a divided set of daily goals can help you get clear on purpose and prioritize the tasks you need to get done. Make these goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. The traditional to-do list will suffice. You can also use apps to create, monitor, and complete these goals, but beware of the time you’re taking to learn and operate some of these apps. A good example of an app that is easy to learn and use is Clockify. You can track your time, create projects, and get reports to see how you measure up in productivity against your goals.
#3: Remember that everything isn’t urgent
When listing your priorities, consider what is most important to a project or deadline. Some tasks are “want-to” and some are “need-to.” For example, you may want to create a certain format that is visually pleasing to the client; something fancy, if you will. That’s a want-to. Your need-to is an item or task that, if you don’t complete it, may be detrimental to your service or reputation. Focus on the most important ones.
#4: Spend 90-minutes to better productivity
A practice I implemented and found ideal for my energy level is the 90-minute work cycle, where you begin a set of tasks you want to complete, put uninterrupted focus on them, and determine how long they took to complete. Then, take a break for whatever timeframe you want. I like 15 minutes. This strategy helps your creativity and inspiration by rebooting your energy, and taking a brief break resets your motivation. You can stretch, check on the children, take a walk, or even peruse your social media, with caution to be strong enough to walk away when your break is over. It may be helpful to set a timer to ensure you don’t get lost in fun time or chasing rabbits.
#5: Watch out for the procrastinator!
We all do it, but the most productive of people have a strategy for locking this part of their personality away. Procrastination is a naughty little issue mostly caused by fear – fear of failure, criticism, and perfectionism. Fear is also about success – anxiety about how others will react to our victory. Instead, we perform in a way that sabotages our success, hence proving the procrastinator right.
#6: Give a due date for completion
Setting yourself up for success will include a due date or deadline. Giving an evenly spaced, hard due date to complete your work will give you a sense of accomplishment and a little zap to help you keep going. Go to airplane mode. This undisturbed time can aid in doing deep work. Prepare for this by informing family and coworkers that you won’t be available during certain hours in order to prevent neglecting other life priorities. Set aside a few hours to engage your brain to focus on one task at a time to make big breakthroughs on something critical.
Due dates, in and of themselves, gives us anxiety, but how are we contributing to the problem? The dreaded cellphone. It’s our lifeline, but also our nemesis when we attempt to get more done in less time. I won’t even state the number of hours I have spent on my phone, because it is too embarrassing to share, so we’ll just round it up to “too much!” Turning off notifications and even putting our phones away may give some of us withdrawals. However, we must realize that it can, and will, have an impact on our productivity. We can regain hours of focus time by simply putting it away. It may sting a little, but it’s for the best.
#7: Monotask instead of multitask
I remember when I was interviewing for different work positions, well-meaning advisors would tell me to put multitasking on my resume to show I’m smart and productive. However, I have found the opposite to be true, at least for me. Multitasking gave me the opportunity to perform poorly at everything I wanted to accomplish. Can you imagine? Nothing actually gets completed, and by the end of the day, I’m exhausted. It’s not a good look. Instead, give yourself the gift of “monotasking” this season.
Monotasking, also known as single tasking, is the practice of dedicating oneself to a given task, and minimizing potential interruptions until the task is complete or a significant period of time has elapsed. Monotasking contrasts with multitasking, which is the ability to divide your focus among multiple tasks. Look at your lists and assign yourself a focus for each timeframe in order to focus on a specific task or upcoming deadline.
What is your takeaway?
Everyone has their own way of doing things, so set a schedule that works the way you work. Find and use the time when you have your most energy. Being more productive takes planning and practice. If at first you don’t succeed, try again!