Need to master the art of productivity? Time is the most precious resource we have been blessed with next to our health. It’s the one thing we have total control over, even though it doesn’t often feel like it. We all want more time so we can get more done, but we all get the exact same 24 hours each day. Even if you siphon off 8 hours for some much-needed shut-eye, there’s still 16 hours for you to make the most of.
Marketing is a big umbrella. Always so much to do and so little time. If you’re anything like me, your relationship with time is a little more hate than love. My to-do list looks more like the never-ending story and the longer it gets the more overwhelming it starts to feel. There’s times I think to myself if only I were more organised, but despite my best efforts, it’s a concept that eludes me.
I keep waking up earlier and earlier. I download a myriad of apps to help keep me focused and then find myself staring at my screen in disbelief when my to-do list hasn’t magically disappeared. If you’re feeling the pressure now to perform, here are our 6 tips to getting the most out of your day and being more productive (than everyone else at work).
1. Being Prepared is for More than Just Girl Scouts
For most of us, success doesn’t happen by accident. It requires planning and some serious effort. And it applies to both the bedroom and the boardroom. I find that planning simple things like my lunch and wardrobe really simplify getting ready in the morning and it preserves some of that awesome decision-making brain power for bigger decisions.
When it comes to the work day, I find it’s far too easy to be busy. But being reactive or busy isn’t the same as being productive or strategic. So I like to spend an hour every Monday planning my week’s top priorities and spend a few minutes every evening planning my next workday so that I don’t fall into the trap of getting lost in a million emails.
2. Know When to Press Pause
Marketing is two parts perspiration and one part inspiration. But waiting for the inspiration to strike can be painful. Staring at your screen doesn’t make the content come any faster and forcing yourself to stay put can heighten your frustration. Trust me, I’ve tried.
The next time you find yourself feeling mentally fatigued, take a 10-minute break and don’t think about your impending deadline. Try distracting yourself at the water cooler, the coffee house or maybe even some donuts. It sounds counterintuitive, but you’d be surprised at how a short break can help in a big way.
3. Bring Your Blinders to Work
Multi-tasking is akin to being the jack-of-all-trades. Genius requires the opposite. It means you have to get really great at eliminating distractions and honing your laser-like focus. With the increase in open concept office plans, cancelling out noise and disruptions can be next to impossible. If you can square yourself away in a quiet meeting room, give it a go. Or try making your noise-cancelling headphones your new BFF and get some great work done.
4. Make Time for What’s Important
There’s an opportunity cost for everything. Each time you say yes, means you’re saying no to something else. But it’s human nature to underestimate how much time a task will take and overscheduling oneself. Many times we feel some sort of guilt around saying no and feel the need to justify every rejection.
But here’s the thing. When you’re over-stretched, you can’t perform at your best. Which means you need to start being really selective about what you make space for and how realistic it is to tackle all 101 things in a single week.
5. The Two Minute Rule
There are a lot of small tasks that come across my plate every day. Skimming emails is one of my biggest crimes. I glance at them to make sure there’s nothing urgent and think I’ll write back later… but later never comes. If you’re in the same boat, here’s a novel idea. Set aside time for handling emails – yes this includes reading and responding at the same time. Crazy thought, I know!
My rule of thumb is if a task takes two minutes or less to accomplish – to simply get it done. Rather than letting these small things pile up to epic proportions, where they’re weighing me down, I try to handle them when I acknowledge them.
Bonus tip! Set a schedule for checking emails frequently enough to action them quickly, but not so they distract you every minute of the day.
6. Clear Your Physical Space
Creative people tend to have messier desks. It doesn’t mean that we’re disorganized slobs, but it encourages us to find unconventional ways of solving problems. But when your workload is starting to creep into overwhelming territory, a messy desk can inhibit your ability to think clearly. Try organizing your documents by project or deadline and stowing them neatly until you’re ready to give them some love.