More often than not, we all think that we could have completed more tasks in the day if only we had been a little more productive. But, in reality, we end up procrastinating our task list and get overwhelmed by the amount of work piled up in front of us.
From students to working professionals, the majority of us find it difficult to be productive. It could be due to the distractions in the form of social media or it could be because of reduced attention span and inability to focus on the task at hand. Moreover, we also want to spend enough time on our interests and hobbies. In the end, we feel that we are incapable of managing time and it makes us believe that we are living an unproductive life of regret and despair.
Well, it doesn't have to be this way. You can go to bed at night feeling satisfied and fulfilled with what you have accomplished on that particular day and all it will take are a few "productivity hacks" to get you there.
1. Time Allocation Quadrants
The beauty about time is that every one of us has the same 24 hours every single day. The only thing that differentiates us is how wisely we use these 24 hours to be more productive. For this, the most important thing to focus on is where you are spending your maximum time and understand whether or not you are optimally utilizing it.
Another thing to note here is that how you spend your time is the combination of the urgency and the importance of the task you have to accomplish.
So, here's a hack for you.
Allocate tasks into four different categories. Draw a box with 4 quadrants. The X-axis is about urgent tasks. Y-axis is about the important tasks.
Now categorize these quadrants into tasks as per:
1. Urgent and Important
2. Important but not urgent
3. Neither Urgent nor Important
4. Urgent but not important
The rules to tackle these quadrants are simple:
1. If something is urgent as well as important, then do it now.
2. For the important tasks which are not urgent, schedule them and do them later.
3. If you encounter anything that is neither urgent nor important, then drop it.
4. If you have something urgent but not important, then delegate it to someone else because it's not worth your time.
There's no set rule of thumb for task allocation but keep the basic principle of urgency and importance in mind. It's also important to look at our energy levels while allocating these tasks. Plus, you will need to go through a trial-and-error technique before you can understand how to rightly categorize your tasks in these quadrants in the most productive manner.
2. Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro technique is a popular time blocking system to help you focus on one task at a time when you have too many tasks on your to-do list and deadlines to meet.
According to Parkinson's law, "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion". This means the more time you have to finish a project, the longer you'll take to finish it. So, to be more productive you must manufacture strict deadlines and, literally, have a ticking clock in the background while you work or study.
Pomodoro is a time management tool where you focus on one task for 25-minute intervals with a 5-minute break between each task. After completing four Pomodoros take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. The Pomodoro method works because you force yourself to focus 100% on one task and the breaks help you to rejuvenate and get ready for the next block of 25 minutes.
This is a proven productivity hack.
3. Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
Visualize your day daily just after you get out of your bed. Think about how you can go about your work to get things done on time with more efficiency. Visualizing your day helps you get ready as well as prioritize tasks during the day.
4. Analyze Yourself at the End of the Day
Just before going to sleep, rewind whatever you went through on that particular day. Analyze how you have performed and how you could have done better to improve your overall productivity. This again helps you be efficient and productive the next day. If you continue this process, analyzing and improving will come naturally to you.
5. Make Small but Consistent Improvements in All Major Areas of Life
Commit yourself to bring, as little as 1%, improvement in whatever you are doing right now to achieve your long-term goals.
For example, when you start working out, you might start with one pushup daily and then increase the count with time. Adding maybe one pushup a day, but consistently increasing it. This way by the end of the month, you would be doing 30 pushups in a day.
Now use the same ideology in your work. This is the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen which emphasizes small but continuous improvements as a gradual process for substantial change over a longer period of time. Albert Einstein had rightly said that compounding is the 8th wonder of the world. Since these little improvements, later on, compound into significant changes and bring exceptional results for you.
So, these are some practical and doable productivity hacks that can help you manage your time wisely and get your work done more efficiently without causing any stress in your daily life. We hope it can bring a difference in your professional lives as it did in mine.