Working in an important part of our lives and it often makes our schedules tight. Sometimes we need to do overtime, and this might make you not take care of yourself appropriately. More and more people experience burnout, fatigue, and tiredness and this affects their life functioning.
But to prevent this, you need to identify the core source of these problems. Many people do not know how to work smarter and manage their time, enter the flow state, and productively accomplish tasks. And it is okay if you have days when you do not feel like it. But if these habits last for weeks and months, then something needs to change.
All our lives we go through a lot of experiences and these are the ones that form our character, way of being, and perspective on the world. And sometimes we need to do more to improve and develop our skills. Working effectively and productively is one of the skills that everyone should improve. It is useful not only on your professional level but on your personal one too.
So, let’s delve into these 6 pieces of advice that will help you organize your tasks and work better and adopt an efficient working style and work smarter rather than harder.
1. Prioritize Your Tasks
Yes, all tasks need to be done and accomplished. However, not all tasks are as important and urgent as you would like to think. The most important step you need to take on your way to working more productively is to organize your tasks according to their priority.
The Eisenhower Matrix for urgent and important tasks is a nice tool used by millions of people worldwide. It is a simple and efficient way to filter your tasks so that you will have enough time for them all, without doing overtime. You should start by listing all the tasks you have at work, no matter how much time, effort, and resources they may need to be accomplished.
After you have reviewed your list, organize tasks on four axes:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Not important but urgent
- Not important and not urgent
While the first two categories describe tasks that can help you accomplish your goals, develop and improve your skills, the last two are task categories that should be delegated or avoided, as they do not have any clear value.
2. Break Tasks into Smaller Ones
Usually, the tasks that fall into the category of important and urgent are the ones that we delayed doing. One of the reasons why people delay working on some tasks is because of procrastination. Those tasks might seem too huge, challenging, difficult and so on and this keeps us away from them.
Unfortunately, they will need to be done sooner or later, and finding strategies to work smarter on daunting tasks should be a priority.
One of the solutions is to break big and important tasks into smaller ones. Working as an HR Specialist in a multinational taught me this trick. I was often feeling troubled when I saw those challenging tasks, and procrastination was my way to deal with them, for the moment.
But when they become urgent, I knew I have to find a way to cope with the stress that comes with accomplishing these tasks. And having a to-do list, smaller goals and small chunks of tasks helped me handle them successfully and in a productive way.
3. Add Office Plants and Colors
It may seem odd, but plants and colours do increase your productivity. Scientists have compared the workplace perception, air quality, concentration, and satisfaction in employees who were either working in green offices, either in plain and lean offices.
The results are amazing. Employees who worked in colourful spaces who also had lots of plants were 15% more productive than the other group. Plants in the office help you focus better, and with a better focus comes efficiency and productivity.
Even though you are working from home during these harsh times, you can add a few plants and colourful items to your working space at home. “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity”, says the lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology.
4. Take Breaks
For some people, it is easy to get into that workflow and work smarter on their tasks. But the challenge they have to face is to take breaks.
The thing is, many people think that if they take breaks when they work, they will not be able to accomplish their tasks on time. But this is wrong. Nobody can stay focused eight hours straight. And nor should you try this, as your brain needs regular breaks to assimilate the knowledge.
Studies have shown that frequent breaks increase employees’ productivity and wellbeing. After a break in which you focus on something completely different (not on your tasks or work), you will focus easier and increase your productivity.
5. Avoid Multitasking
We all have done multitasking because we thought that if we work on more tasks at the same time, we will finish them in time. But this is another misconception that many people have. I have noticed during my years spent at a corporation that multitasking is something you should avoid and stop doing, and not something you should aim to.
When you focus on more than one thing at the same time, you divide your attention between these things. Your attention is not solely directed toward one purpose, but to many at the same time. And this prevents you from working efficiently and productively. Choose to prioritize your tasks and work on one at a time to increase your productivity.
6. Communicate Effectively
One of the main drawbacks many people experience is communicating effectively. We all spend a lot of time sending and replying to emails. It is a back and forth discussion that takes time and resources and hinders the productivity of employees.
There are many tips on how you can communicate efficiently at work, and among the most important ones are:
- Learn to send better emails and include all the information necessary from the beginning
- Shift online discussions to face to face meetings or video ones, as you can clarify and decide upon things better and faster
- Set a specific time interval to check your inbox and reply to emails
- Turn your inbox notifications off, to minimize distractions
Adopt healthy working habits to increase your productivity and efficiency. These are some simple but impactful and valuable actions you can take to more efficient communication.
We all want to work smarter. Learning how to manage your time and tasks effectively can turn to be a challenge, but it is one you need and can face. Prioritize your tasks, delegate, and break them into smaller ones.
Avoid multitasking, take regular breaks, communicate effectively, and choose to add a touch of colour and greenery in your working space.
Productivity and efficiency are not something hard to achieve, but you need to invest time and effort into replacing bad habits with healthier and more efficient ones. Learn to manage your energy, not only time and work smarter, and your productivity will skyrocket.