Your workday is chaotic. You often wonder how the day went by so quickly. With so many things still pending, you have a nagging feeling that you really didn’t do too much. Despite being really busy.
So how do we make your day more efficient? This article looks at a few ways to bring in efficiency. So, you go back to your family in the evening with a smile on your face! And have more time and energy to follow those pursuits which you keep postponing.
Habit #1: Don’t treat all ‘To-dos’ as equal
To-do lists are easy to make. Most of us keep one. Yet, we tend to cram them with a ton of activities. Some surveys suggest that 40% of the items on a to-do list never get done! Tasks that do get completed get done quickly. Effectively, the easier stuff on the to-do list gets done. And often, many of the ‘dones’ don’t even feature on the to-do list. So, where’s the time to think and plan?
Break down your to-do list into specific, actionable steps. Prioritize. Delegate the less important ones. Be realistic of what you can get done. Don’t try to do it all! Former US President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” From that quote stems the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. Quite a useful tool to categorize your to-dos.
Habit #2: No more than 2 important activities a day
Aim to do at least 1 and not more than 2 important activities a day. Mission-critical activities which involve creativity. When you start your day aiming at doing 5 important things, its likely none of them get done. Especially when they are swimming in a to-do ocean.
Make it actionable. Break big projects into smaller tasks and then try to do them sans distraction. ‘Turn company around’ isn’t actionable in a day. ‘Identify 3 reasons for slow growth’ is.
Try to do one of the important activities before lunch. Makes for a more enjoyable lunch and sets the tone for the second half!
Habit #3: Beware the big monster- email (and WhatsApp!)
Email while useful can also be a huge distraction. And WhatsApp’ getting there. The best thing you could do with both is use batch processing. Pre-determined times when you check email. At all other times, ignore it. And if its hard to ignore, turn off email / WhatsApp notifications from mail clients on your PC and phone. Ditto for social media. And if you are a news buff, remember that you get more informed news and insightful views some time after an event happens. So, fix a time to batch process the news as well.
What if there’s a fire? You’ll know soon enough! And for all you know, it might get doused by the time you get around to responding to those ‘urgent’ emails.
Habit #4: Leave open spaces in your calendar
It’s difficult to precisely predict a day. It’s stressful transitioning quickly between a meeting to a call to some creative thinking. Leave some breathing space between activities.
Habit #5: Say No!
It’s difficult saying ‘No’. But if you don’t want to or can’t do something, its best for everyone involved if you do. You save time and stress. And have one less thing on your already long to-do list.
As Stephen Covey famously said – You have to decide your highest priorities and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”
Habit #6: Have fun!
Chill out a bit. Share a few jokes. Watch a funny video. Having fun can take the ‘edge’ of the day and increase productivity. Unless you do it the whole day!
Habit #7: Drink (good) Coffee
This one’s my favourite. Coffee boosts cognitive function, creativity and makes you more alert. Don’t believe me? Coffee is an integral part of Jony Ive’s super-secure design studio at Apple. The same place where the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad were designed!
So, keep time for coffee in your day. Its guaranteed to increase efficiency!
So, those are the 7 vital habits. Got some more to add? Strong agree / disagree with some of the habits listed? Do let us know in the comments. We batch process our responses to comments frequently!
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