Making a to-do list is a no-brainer, but stalling in the gates rather than steaming ahead when it comes to working through it can be frustrating at best and career-damaging at worst.
There’s a host of studies that have been released packed with advice that can help maximise efficiency both at work and at home. So ditch staying up late playing zombie games and start killing it in other ways instead. Here we’ve rounded up the best tips to push your productivity up a notch.
Catch The Worm
Early mornings may be the peak of misery in midwinter, but in spring and summer make like Richard Branson and get the most out of longer, brighter days by setting up shop early.
By missing peak travel times, you’ll skip traffic and public transport congestion, and get some precious quiet time in the office before the mayhem ensues.
Get Out More
It sounds counterintuitive, but taking regular, scheduled breaks and a proper lunch has been found to improve concentration levels, meaning you’ll get everything done in less time.
The medical journal Cognition reports that taking short breaks during long tasks helps maintain a constant level of performance; while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance.
Fail To Prepare…
Taking 15 minutes before bed to create a to-do list gives a head start on the following morning. Better yet, pick out the most important tasks for the day and prioritise them.
In addition to a competitive edge over colleagues, doing this also gives the brain breathing space which in turn, will help you sleep better – another key factor in crushing it according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
A Game Of Two Halves
Estimating time seems easy, but research suggests that only 17 per cent of people do it accurately. When the day starts to run away with you faster than you’re ticking off tasks, time is of the essence.
Before starting a task, assign it a block of time and try to stay within it. According to research by Florida State University, a time slot of 90 minutes or less is most effective; so if it’s a mammoth job, break it down piece by piece.
To keep the time in-between tasks productive but not overwhelming, opt for something light to cleanse the mind – think of it as sorbet between courses. The Two-Minute Rule pioneered by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, involves listing smaller life admin to-dos like booking dentist appointments or checking bank statements.
Try to tick five of them off in 10 minutes. The brain will see it has blasted through the list, which is great for motivation, and it’ll stop those little chores snowballing into something that may require more time in the future.
The average office worker spends 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings according to business strategy company Atlassian. That’s a lot of 90-minute opportunities (and countless two-minute ones) missed.
So before booking or agreeing to that next meeting, pause and ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same amount without rounding everybody up.
Even the briefest interruption can throw everything off course, according to a study by Deloitte.
Taking active steps to minimise distractions, such as setting formal meeting hours, keeping headphones on, or working from home when necessary, will see a corresponding boost in output.
We live in a time of information overload, so during working hours, limit consumption of junk news and scrolling through Instagram to things that are useful.
Cutting out the unnecessary is a habit that’ll be hard to kick, but according to Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder, the results will speak for themselves.
Being proactive rather than reactive is the backbone of a strong working schedule. Mirror the approach of the Harvard Business Review and take a step back from constantly putting out fires by sticking to a to-do list as much as possible.
Add newer tasks wherever they fit according to priority – just because they’re new doesn’t mean they’re more important.