When I was in my twenties, I used to lie awake at night thinking about my ever-growing To Do list. I wondered how I’d get through it all the next day without getting fired.
I’m far from alone.
According to the Health and Safety Executive in the UK, 526,000 UK workers reported they had experienced work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016-17.
In this article, I’ll give you seven proven productivity strategies that will help you take charge of your time and do more of what you want to do.
1. Start With The End In Mind
It’s easy to spend the day on busywork: long meetings, lengthy email chains, an endless stream of notifications and more.
Instead, clarify what you want to have accomplished by the end of each week. Then work toward that.
Depending on your priorities, these steps might include a set number of sales calls, a newly launched marketing campaign, a premortem or a series of customer interviews.
Only then, make room for smaller activities that sap your time and energy. Consider this your margin of safety!
As a writer, for example, my output includes one to three finished articles per week. I can make time for Twitter and Instagram after I’ve finished writing those articles.
2. Do It Right Away If It Takes Less Than Two Minutes
This productivity strategy comes from the author of Getting Things Done David Allen.
The psychological burden that comes with postponing tasks and writing them on your To Do list often takes far more time than if you’d attended to the item immediately.
You’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish in 120 seconds, but if the activity takes longer, write it on your To Do list.
In Getting Things Done, Allen wrote,
The rationale for the two-minute rule is that that’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands—in other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff.
3. Own Your Calendar
No matter where you work, your calendar is one of your most valuable assets; guard it wisely.
Elon Musk, for example, plans out every minute of his day including when he eats and sleeps.
That’s an extreme example.
Still, at the end of day, review your calendar to see who you met with and how you spent your time. Consider what meetings or activities energised you and which ones ran over.
If you’re on a key project, block book an hour or two in your calendar for working on this project before the demands of the day take over.
4. Prepare Your Work In Advance
Have you ever sat down at your desk first thing, read the news, checked your email and thought about doing everything but work?
Then when you finally feel guilty enough to start, you spend another thirty minutes opening up your work and looking for your notes and a place to begin.
Instead, prepare your work the night before. Arrange your tools and research in one place. Leave a note to yourself about exactly where to start.
You might, for example, record the phone number of a customer next to a list of questions to ask.
The trick is to make it as easy as possible to start work when you sit down the following day. You don’t want to have to spend any time looking for what you need.
Bryan Collins – Read the full article on Forbes.com