Today people are busier than ever. Whether you are overloaded at work or have mounting commitments away from the office, facing a long list of to-dos can quickly overwhelm even the most productive person. Luckily there is a way to get things done when the number of tasks you need to complete seems never-ending. The next time you begin to feel anxious about how much you need to get accomplished, try a few of these simple tricks to keep up your spirit and conquer your anxiety of a full schedule.
Write a daily agenda. Even if you keep a monthly calendar or a weekly planner, invest 5 or ten minutes in the morning to physically write the day’s plan. Throughout the day, after finishing a task from your list, cross it off. Many people find that it is more effective and satisfying to create your daily agenda with a pen and paper, but you may prefer using your computer or phone.
Prioritize the tasks and your time. Everything is essential, but not everything is equally important. Separate your daily agenda tasks into different categories based on how essential they are for you to complete by the end of the day. Some tasks may have a real deadline, such as enrolling your child in school or paying a bill, while others may have an artificial deadline like finishing a book or going to the gym. Tackle the tasks with real deadlines first, and only when they are completed, move start working on assignments with artificial deadlines.
Break longer projects into smaller tasks which are easier to complete. Sometimes just thinking about the enormity of a project is enough to stop you from starting it. When you are facing such a task, try to break it down into chunks which you can tackle more easily. Ideally, you can break the longer projects into daily or weekly tasks, or even into smaller mini-tasks which you can complete in under 30 minutes.
Work in quick sprints, not marathon sessions. Since the vast majority of people do their best work in short bursts of time, don’t force yourself to concentrate for more than an hour or so at once. Working in this manner highlights the benefit of creating mini-tasks can help your productivity. Set a timer between 30 to 60 minutes, and work without interruption on one or two mini-tasks. When the timer goes off, take a quick break to refresh yourself. You will be amazed at how many mini-tasks you can through during the day.
Focus on the task at hand. Smaller tasks and shorter work sessions mean that it should be easier for you to focus all of your energy on the job at hand. Give your undivided attention to what you are doing. That means eliminate distractions including as a messy desk, chatting with co-workers, browsing online or chatting on your phone. If you can, try to clear from your head any thoughts which are not directly related to the task. In the beginning, this may seem impossible, but over time it gets easier.
Create rewards and consequences. Some people are motivated by carrots, while others by sticks. Discover which type of motivation factor works best for you and use it to your advantage. If you are someone who works better when you know a treat is waiting for you at the end, use your break between work sessions to reward yourself with something you want, a cookie or checking social media. If you are the type of person, who needs a good scare to get you to finish things, design a penalty for not completing a task like giving ten bucks to your office mate.
Be realistic when it comes to your expectations. Face it. Things are not always going to go as you plan. Deadlines get moved up; people get sick; appointments are missed — life happens. When the unexpected occurs, what makes the difference between a smooth recovery and huge issue is your ability to recover and make the changes necessary on-the-fly. Learning to adapt when things don’t go smoothly is critical for staying productive while busy. So never overpromise results and always give yourself enough extra time in case of a disruption.
Be kind to yourself. Whatever you do, don’t wind up pushing yourself too hard physically or emotionally. Control your stress levels, take care of your needs, and always remember there is still tomorrow.
Staying productive no matter is a skill even the most talented businesspeople isn’t born knowing is, but the tips above can help.