With the rise of technology and everything available at your fingertips, it has made it harder to hone in and focus on one thing at a time. Here are some techniques that the Balance team uses to help plan and hit deadlines for our wonderful clients!
1. Writing a to do list… that works for your style!
Everyone has their own way of writing to do lists, but is it the most effective way for you? There has been a boom in online platforms promoting different styles of time management which could transform your productivity levels. Figuring out your style could be the key to enhancing your productivity. Here are a few styles and tools that employ them:
Alternatively, if you prefer an old fashioned pen and paper - you can still employ some techniques like splitting tasks into three categories;
Top of the list- Time sensitive tasks OR quick tasks, i.e. tasks that will take less than 30 minutes (extra tip - this is particularly helpful if you have a call or meeting-heavy day as it means you have a good idea of the quick tasks that you can get ticked off in that awkward 15 minutes between meetings).
Middle of the list - Tasks that could wait until tomorrow OR tasks that will take over 30 minutes to complete but less than an hour.
Bottom of the list - Tasks that would be nice to get done OR projects that are ongoing tasks that aren’t a quick tick exercise.
Most importantly, start your day by spending five to ten minutes writing out and reviewing your tasks for the day. This will not only help you to work out exactly what needs to be done, but it will also give you a good overview of where your time will be best spent for the day ahead.
Not doing this means you will be going in blind and muddling your way through - which I’m sure we can all agree isn’t the most productive approach.
2. Tucking away technology
Social media and your mum texting you non-stop about dinner at the weekend can be very distracting. There are also some very useful (and fun!) apps that can stop you from using your phone, like Forest app where you can watch a virtual tree grow if you stay focused (and away from your phone!).
If you don’t want to download yet another app to clog up the memory on your phone, try sticking it on aeroplane mode, put it in another room or just turn it off (NB: make sure you tell your loved ones you’re doing this - to avoid unnecessary worry).
Turning off unnecessary distractions puts you automatically in the zone for work, allows you to focus on the task at hand, and will enable you to produce work to your highest potential.
3. Stepping away from your screen
Sitting at a desk and staring at a screen for too long can be very taxing physically as well as mentally, and whilst you may think chaining yourself to your desk is the best way to be productive, instead what you are doing is draining your resources. You wouldn’t ignore the fuel light on your car halfway through a long journey, and the same thing applies here, to produce the best work we must ensure we refuel.
Research actually shows that much like humans have sleep cycles, we also have work cycles. The pomodoro technique encourages frequent short breaks to give your brain a break and consists of 52 minutes working with a 17 min break throughout the day.
With that in mind, try taking frequent breaks throughout the day. You could even set yourself alarms throughout the day to remind you to stop what you’re doing, put the pen down and step away from the desk! Remember though to use this time wisely, i.e. don’t spend the next 17 minutes scrolling aimlessly through Tic-Toc. Instead, take a walk around the house, read a chapter of a good book, ensure you take a break for lunch, you can even take a walk around the block to get the blood flowing.
Remember - you can’t pour from an empty cup.
BONUS 4: Doing things that make you HAPPY throughout the day!
Whether this is playing with your pet for 17 minutes whilst you take a break from the screen, organising your tasks so you alternate the hard tasks with the fun ones or eating your favourite lunch - ensure you have something to look forward to.
Keeping your mental health in check is so important in keeping yourself going and powering through your workload. Of course we all have those off days where no tip or trick is going to work for you and that is okay, but these tips just aim to help increase your productivity and make your workload or general tasks easier! As always, if ever you want to have a chat to see how you can level up your productivity, get in touch!