It comes down to performing several tasks at once. The idea seems to be great. You should be more productive doing two things simultaneously instead of finishing one task and starting a new one. Ingenious? Not really.
Multitasking will only work in cases where both activities do not require commitment or focus. A great example would be watching TV while doing the dishes or ironing. In case of complex tasks or tasks that require a lot of concentration you are not able to divide your attention evenly between both of them. As a result, you will be doing one thing by turns for a short period of time – you will be switching. In fact, you will not be able to devote the full attention to any of those things, it’s just the way your brain works. Therefore it may turn out that you have just lost time and none of the tasks is completed.
No ToDo list
Imagine that you suddenly have some free time and could start working on a new task. Without a ToDo list you will begin to wonder what needs to be done. Before you pick any task which seems important and might fill this time gap, it appears that the time is over. Thanks to a structured ToDo list you can tackle a new task whenever you have free time.
Even if you make a ToDo list but aren’t using priorities, such a list may prove to be of no use. Let’s say you have a total of 70 tasks on your list. Even if you manage to complete one, there will still be 69 remaining. This is quite a lot and this number may be overwhelming. If you begin to use priorities, it will be easier to create daily and weekly ToDo lists.
You can mark the tasks with colors, numbers or letters. It may be helpful to use the following key:
- Top priority – tasks which should be done asap and it’s impossible to postpone them. Examples are : meeting an important client, paying the bills, writing a report, preparing offers etc.
- Tasks with an early deadline, but the lack of their execution is not associated with such consequences as the task from group 1 (meeting a less important client, replying to emails).
- Things that you enjoy or make you relax – meeting friends, buying new clothes or your favorite author’s new book.
- Tasks to delegate to a third party.
- Low priority tasks, try to minimize their number.
Definitely your ToDo list consists of things that you don’t want to tackle for a variety of reasons. If you put them off, usually you will not complete them. If the problem is the task’s complexity, divide it into smaller tasks and start with baby steps. If this is something you don’t like doing, delegate if possible. Stick to the Do-It-Now (DIN) rule. If something takes less than 5 minutes to complete, do it right now. Remember the sooner you start, the sooner you finish and will be able to tick off this unpleasant task from your list.
Bad workplace organization
Some of us are chaotic and having a ToDo list is the only neat thing in their lives. Start by cleaning up / organizing your desk. Mess means that you unnecessarily waste precious time every day when you try to find documents or any required utensils. Instead of wasting time this way, it’s much better to spend it on executing tasks. Studies reveal that messy employees lose 7-8 hours per week to search for necessary items. This is a full workday! Desk is obviously a symbolic workplace, this could be your workshop, kitchen, etc. A clean workplace is therefore the basis for success.
Too little sleep is the enemy of productivity. When you are tired it’s hard to focus on a particular thing and to complete it fast. Fatigue is also a perfect excuse for another cup of coffee. Making coffee costs time that you could use productively.
Doing everything yourself
Probably you think you’re the only person that can do a certain task best. We have to disappoint you. There are a lot of people as good as you :) We used to think like this too and we know it is a mistake. You should delegate many tasks to save time and money.
Not managing distractions
We all know this: incoming call, message from your friends, a new Facebook post. All of these factors can distract you from the task that you are busy with. You lose concentration and start dealing with less important things. Sounds familiar?
We’ll write about managing interruptions in one of the next posts.
Lack of self-discipline
A part of our mindset is that we first try to do pleasant things and we postpone the less pleasant ones. It often turns out that there is no time to tackle those unpleasant chores. Therefore, as Brian Tracy, the author of “Eat That Frog”, says, first do things that you do not like and that are likely to be time-consuming. Leave the pleasant tasks for the end of the day.