Writer: Warren Davies
Organize first and work with purpose.
You’re an intelligent and motivated individual. Why aren’t you getting more done each day? Most likely, it’s not because of a lack of ability or motivation. It’s because of a lack of planning and organization. If you organize your work time more effectively, you’ll get the most important things done first and you’ll be less vulnerable to procrastination.
Work first, email later
As soon as you sit at your desk, get straight to work on your first key task of the day (which you will have identified the evening before—see “Prioritize the next day’s tasks” below). Don’t go to your email, news sites, or social media first, as you might get stuck there for a while. You can do all that later.
Use the Pomodoro Method
If you’re procrastinating or resisting that first task, set a timer for three minutes. Tell yourself you’ll just work for these three minutes. Paradoxically, motivation often follows action, so you’ll probably be in the swing of things before that time is up. If not, take a break for a few minutes then set the timer again.
Focus on one task at a time and put your whole attention into it for a set period, such as 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t check email, don’t look at social media, and put your phone aside. After that, you can take a five-minute break to stretch your legs or get a drink. Then start another single-tasking work block. Complete your whole working day in this manner.
Utilize the two-minute rule
If a task crops up between your single-task work blocks, ask yourself if you can finish it in two minutes. If so, get it done then and there. If not, either schedule a time block for it or add it to your to-do list to be slated later.
Schedule your to-do list
To-do lists are wish lists. Every evening, take your to-do list and turn it into a plan by allocating specific blocks of time in which you’ll complete all these tasks.
Prioritize the next day’s tasks
After you’ve scheduled your to-do list, write down the three most crucial tasks you need to complete the next day, and the first key task you are going to start in the morning. This way, you won’t waste time in the morning figuring out what to do.
You need to decompress and relax in the evenings or your productivity the next day will suffer. Take some time away from desks and screens. Find an activity that helps you forget about everything else, like a sport, dancing, or playing a musical instrument.
Planning your days has a psychological as well as a practical benefit. By breaking the day up into work blocks and identifying your first tasks, you have made the day less intimidating. So remember to repeat this planning process every evening, and you’ll see a significant boost in your productivity.