Whether it’s that blank document that still hasn’t been turned into a winning business proposal or the cluttered inbox you keep telling yourself you’re going to get through, we’re all guilty of putting things off at work. Sadly when you’re the boss it brings a whole host of responsibility and pressure, you’ll be all too aware that there are only so many hours in the day to conquer your mountainous workload. If you seem to have more and more on your to-do list that is not getting ticked off, read on.
We’ve scoured the internet, reached out to business owners and entrepreneurs and come up with 10 of the best way to help you create a more efficient and productive work schedule. From adopting the 80:20 rule to clearing the mental clutter, this is how to make each day at work as fruitful as the last.
#1 Have a mental de-clutter
What exactly is a ‘mental de-clutter’? Put simply mental clutter is that constant voice in your head reminding you on all the things you need to do. First and foremost think about everything you need to do, both personally and professionally. What you need to do is empty the contents of your brain with the goal of getting all the to-dos and ideas out of your head and into the physical world. Once your to-dos are in the physical world your mind is free to think about things, not of things – exactly what it was intended for.
#2 Personalise your productivity tools
Instead of fighting against your natural thinking, learning, and communicating preferences, work with them, productivity does not come in the form of ‘one hat fits all’. Identify your productivity style and run with it. It may be that you work better in the morning, or perhaps you think more clearly straight after lunch, but if you identify what it is you can manage your attention, invest your time, get work done, tame your inbox, and design your work space in ways that are customised for you – not for someone else.
#3 Adopt the 80:20 rule
80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, so if you can figure out where that 20% is and only focus on that, you can proactively avoid a lot of unproductive tasks freeing up time to work on new project and focus your attentions elsewhere.
#4 Don’t put it off
Always start with the task you want to do the least, it is always better to get such tasks out of the way so whatever’s on your list that you know you have to do but you really don’t want to do – do that first. Don’t put it off – if you don’t do it first then it’s just going to be on your list the next day, the next… and probably the next. The longer you leave it the worse it gets and it will be there playing of your mind making you frustrated and more stressed and a until you get it done.
#5 Create a ‘stop doing’ list
Take a thorough look at your projects and tasks and ask yourself if each project is still relevant. There are probably a few tasks and projects lurking on your list that need to be moved to the stop doing list. Make sure you check over your task list on a regular basis and remove the things are no longer relevant, aligned to your goals and are creating unnecessary work and stress.
#6 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help is most definitely not a sign of weakness, infact, it’s just the opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength and can get you out of a confused/difficult place and help you get back on track.
#7 Rethink your meeting strategy
Meetings are an integral part of owning a business but so many get caught it the trap of accepting every meeting request. Next time you get a meeting request ask yourself the following questions;
Will this meeting assist you in achieving your goals?
Does the purpose of the meeting align with the company’s strategic priorities?
Can you make a specific contribution in the meeting?
If you attend this meeting what will you NOT be doing during this time?
If you answers are more negative than positive to any of the above questions, decline the meeting. Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else.
#8 Categorise your tasks
Not all tasks are the same, some require your attention others can be passed to other colleagues and this is the decision you need to make when categorising your tasks. There are three choices with any task that comes your way: you can do it, ditch it, or delegate it. Do things that you want/need to do, you’re the best person for these tasks to ensure these are completed. Ditch anything that doesn’t enthuse you up or you’re simply doing out of obligation — for most people this is at least half the tasks on their list. Finally, delegate anything that needs to get done but can be done by another colleague, this will free up more of your own time to focus on your role in your business and keep your colleagues feeling included and part of the bigger picture.
#9 Remember it’s ok to say no
It’s easy to get into the habit of saying yes, of course you want to please and facilitate, sometimes this is just not possible or worth the sleepless nights and added stress. It is so easy to feel guilty about saying no because most of us feel that if we were to say no we would be letting people down. But life is way too short to overcommit yourself, and you need to give yourself time to focus on the projects that really matter and that you really want to say yes to.
#10 Do what works for you
Don’t worry about having to conform, what works for some doesn’t always mean it’s going to work for you. Some people find it easier to focus when listening to music and others find it easier to focus in a noisy room. Some people focus better when walking or even running. Some people focus best in first thing in the morning, others late at night; some in cold rooms, others in a sauna; There is no right way or wrong way, experiment and find out what best works for you.