Schedules. Everyone seems to either have one or want one, but how many are actually successful in boosting productivity?
You might have tried to schedule your day, barely lasted a week and then still felt like there is just never enough time to do this or complete that. Luckily, you can be productive even without scheduling every second of your day.
After all, the world is an incredibly active and unpredictable place. You can hardly state with certainty where you will be next week at 10:00, even less so in a month’s time. So, here are six tips on how to be more productive without scheduling every second of your day.
Specify your objectives
Productivity is not necessarily measured by how many tasks you can tick off in a day, rather, you should aim to set down your main objectives to keep at the top of your head as you go about your day.
Whether it is one big project which you need to work on or a handful of smaller tasks which need completing, simply visualising the workload you are hoping to accomplish will help set your day into perspective.
There is no need to set an exact time or schedule for when to achieve these, or even in what order to tackle them. The key is to be specific about your objectives – swap your “work on project” with “draft out assessment” or “distribute tasks”.
The more detailed your objectives are, the clearer and more accessible they will seem, no matter how tiresome they may be. This also means that no time is wasted on you figuring out what you should do when you find yourself with some extra time on your hands.
Prioritise your tasks
With just 24 hours in a day and a healthy night’s sleep to fit in, it is unlikely that you will be able to complete all your tasks every single day. This is why prioritising your most important tasks is essential.
Even though you will always wake up with a 24-hour day in front of you, not every day will be the same. This is what makes strict schedules seem effective in theory but difficult to keep up with amidst the bustle of daily life.
Although your tasks may be fixed, your priorities can easily be changed and adapted from one week to the next. Whether you are working alone or with a team, setting out your priorities are a great way to direct and redirect your goals and ambitions accordingly.
Estimate the duration of your tasks
What makes but also breaks strict schedules is timing. Scheduling requires you to estimate specific time periods for every task you wish to complete – go over and you are suddenly wasting precious time, go under and you are now running after the clock for the rest of the day – either way, your whole schedule is thrown off.
Even if you are not scheduling every second of your day, it is helpful to have an awareness of how long a particular task may take to complete and assess whether your daily objectives are even feasible. Unfortunately, there is not magic formula for estimating the time a particular task may take, it is all about trial and error. With time and experience, you will become much more accurate with your time estimates and be more apt in prioritising your objectives for the day.
The most effective way to determine how long it might take you to empty out your inbox or write up that next report is to time it. Simply remember to glance at the clock before and after you complete a task and track your performance over a usual week.
Get rid of distractions
If you are struggling with productivity, chances are that you will have already been tempted by at least one distraction right as you have been reading this. It might have been a bird flying by the window, or a notification popping up on your phone.
If you keep noticing yourself looking away from your work, try to find a way to eliminate that particular distraction. You could move to a quieter room or keep your phone in your bag until you have completed your task. Although some distractions might be harder to give up than others, it is important to be honest about what may or may not be disturbing your focus.
Have your tools on hand
Have an important meeting to go to in the afternoon? Make sure you have all the documents you need in your file. Hoping to swing by the gym tomorrow morning? Pack your clothes and bag in advance, ready to pick up on the way out. Have a report deadline coming up? Ensure that your laptop is all charged up for the upcoming day.
If you need a particular appliance, device or piece of equipment, be sure that you have it ready on hand for immediate use. This will avoid you having to waste time looking around for items and getting distracted before you have even had the chance to start working.
Keep track of your progress with lists
You do not have to schedule every second of your day in order to track your progress. Lists are a great way to visualise both your tasks and your progress as you tick things off. This is also a good opportunity to assess which and how many tasks you are able to get done in a day, week or months’ time, something which will help you gain a better insight into how much time things actually take to get done.
Progress tracking can also help you identify positive patterns which help make you more productive. Perhaps you find that you are more efficient when you check your emails before lunch, or maybe you have more energy when you go to the gym first thing in the morning. This instant feedback is a great way for you to hold yourself accountable all the whilst celebrating your increases in productivity.
Hire a Virtual Assistant to help you
Are you following all these tips but still feel like you cannot get through all of your daily tasks? A Virtual Assistant can help you get to the bottom of your to-do list. Whether you need someone to keep track of your calendar or schedule your next meeting, Adam from Multi Tasked VA is dedicated to helping you boost your productivity levels and reach your goals.