Doing less and expecting to achieve more probably won’t get you that far in the long run. Still, there are some ways to achieve your top productivity by working in a smart rather than a hard way.
Not every task calls for long hours and drops of sweat – sometimes it is all about learning how to spend only a few hours completing tasks that used to take you a whole day.
At the same time, you might find that decluttering your workspace or giving up multitasking for the sake of focusing on one thing at a time is the key to success.
Don’t wait up and stop procrastinating – the right time to start testing out new ways to approach your tasks is now, so keep reading and find ways to hack your workload, so you stay happier and more productive. Here are 5 of the best ways to start working smarter, not harder:
Declutter Your Workspace
Clutter makes focusing harder – your mind will be distracted by all those papers, files, and documents that pile up on your desk. Moreover, all those items you keep near your workspace might prove problematic if you happen to need something and can’t find it quickly.
If you think decluttering your workspace would be a waste of time, try doing this little exercise:
- Take 5 minutes and write down all the items you can see around your workspace without getting up from your chair.
- Then, take another 10 minutes and organize all these items into smaller groups, such as “things I use daily” and “things I no longer need.”
- Now, see if you can do the same thing for your e-mail inbox or any other digital space where you keep your work and personal files and information.
It’s a fast and effective way to put your things back in order, and if you remember to do it regularly, you’ll always be able to enjoy a clean and organized workspace.
You might consider purchasing desk or drawer organizers or some fun and helpful gadgets for an even more efficient workspace. To ensure that you won’t break a bank in the process, try visiting sites like Coupon Ninja for the best deals and coupons.
Have you ever heard of a concept called the Zeigarnik effect? It is a psychological phenomenon where people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than those completed. In other words, we tend to hold onto uncompleted tasks and thus keep them in our minds longer, so we can complete them.
People who multitask all the time might actually become less productive than people who focus only on one task at a time. Multitaskers also can over time find it harder to filter out irrelevant information, which means they find it tougher to manage their time and stay focused on a specific task.
If you tend to multitask a lot, try going without the distractions for a few days by blocking websites and getting rid of your social media accounts. Focus on one thing at a time and see how it helps you be more productive instead of switching from one task to another as soon as you finish one of them.
Additionally, try to start saying “no” to other people when possible, so you can avoid leaving your tasks unfinished for the sake of constantly helping others.
Set up Deadlines
To stay motivated and focused, set up deadlines for your work and stick to them. If you feel like procrastinating or taking it easy at times, use self-imposed deadlines and those imposed on you by someone else – it will motivate you to get things done faster.
If you find it challenging to stick to the self-imposed deadlines, try disclosing them to one of your work colleagues. Next time they see you, they will ask how your work is going, and the fact that they know about your incoming deadline might motivate you to finish the task in time.
Save Your Brain From Overload
Try not to overload your brain with too many tasks at once – give it time to process everything, then give it some rest before subjecting it to another task. When working through long lists of items, focus on one item after another rather than trying to tick off multiple items at once. Allow your brain to absorb the information before giving it more work to do.
Additionally, you consider using mind maps. Mind mapping is a technique where you list all the things related to a certain topic – either work or personal – and then put them into groups and subgroups so all the related ideas are kept together.
Mind maps make brainstorming easier and help you find new solutions and new ways to approach your tasks.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is based on the idea that frequent breaks help the brain stay focused for longer periods. The technique is based on setting up intervals of work followed by short breaks.
During these breaks, you don’t do anything related to your work – instead, you relax, try not to think about anything work-related, or spend some time doing something else. Use timers or alarms to remind yourself when it’s time for a break.
Work for half an hour on a task, then give yourself five minutes to distract yourself. A short distraction will help you return fresh to the task at hand – plus, it’s good for your health too. You can read blogs or magazines, listen to music or chat with colleagues during breaks.
If you’re distracted by notifications on your phone or any other device, turn off notifications for a while – this will let you focus on what’s more important right now (your work) rather than responding to every message that comes your way.
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to being more productive. What works for some people might not work for you – so what will help you work more efficiently might be figuring out what distracts you the most and then eliminating those distractions from your workday.
However, if you often find yourself procrastinating and taking longer than necessary to complete a task or you multitask and switch from one task to another as soon as you finish one of them, then try to implement some of the tips from this article – they will help you start working smarter, not harder. Also, don’t forget to give your brain a break from time to time – it needs it as much as your body does.