Does your smartphone have any productivity applications? At least one, probably! Usually, people opt for some technology to increase their efficiency. It helps in some cases, but mostly its useless.
In reality, computing and various devices cant give you remarkable results (without extreme effort). In fact, the one thing that can increase our productivity is the amazing capability of our brain. The secret lies inside of us and not in the cords and gadgets, using which we should avoid.
To be truly productive, focus on important but non-urgent tasks.The majority of people use most of their working time to go through their emails. Obviously, it greatly reduces their effectiveness.
Time management matrix helps to manage your workload and maintain your focus. This tool includes four parts, and each of them corresponds to a particular chunk of your time.
The first part corresponds to crucial and demanding tasks. For instance, thats when you deal with burning deadlines and crises.
The second part accounts for the time you spend on critical tasks that dont need immediate attention like a big report for a critical next week meeting.
The third part stands for the unimportant work that requires your immediate attention, such as your emails.
The last part corresponds to the time you devote to trivial matters, such as games or social networks.
In general, the second part should take up most of your time. Even though you might seem at your peak when in the first or third parts since its all so urgent, the situation is different in reality. The reason is that the tasks demanding attention often appear as the critical ones, which usually does not bring fruitful results. If you want evidence, think of those hasty messages full of mistakes, which you definitely ended up sending at least once in your life.
When we work in that second part, we get the best results. Thats when we pay attention and reflect, rather than act on an impulse.
The Pause-Clarify-Decide technique is very helpful if you need to stay in this part of the time matrix: it is useful for evaluating the importance of the work you need to get done.
So, next time you check your mail, look through the subjects and senders and ask yourself Is this email urgent? If it is not, then switch to another task instead.
Be productive and complete important work by defining roles and setting achievable goals.
Not that we realize our time should be mostly devoted to important tasks, we need to understand what important really means. Is important work about creative or operational tasks?
Actually, there are different cases. Think about it: work generally includes several objectives and corresponding tasks. Therefore, each day, a new job becomes crucial.
It would perfect if you concentrated on something thats crucial at that moment. In other words, today, you might want to work with customers and, tomorrow, with your colleagues.
In order to be productive when switching between those roles, you need to have a role title and a role statement for each of them.
So, a role title identifies your interest at the particular moment, and a role statement is your final destination.
For example, youd like to add being a web developer to your other responsibilities and positions. In this case, professional web developer may be your role title, and your statement should be effective and powerful, like I want to become an outstanding web developer by learning three programming languages.
Realistic objectives are necessary if you want to keep up with your statement. So, one such objective may be, It will take me three months to master three programming languages. In three months, evaluate your productivity and what youve accomplished.
By now, you’ve worked on your decision management, which presupposes identifying your roles, role titles and statements as well as your objectives. Next, you need to enhance your attention-management skills.
Create a schedule to complete important work in the upcoming week.
Lets say you are tasked with clearing a road after a landslip. Looking at all those rocks and debris, you need to decide where to star, right?
So, you realize you can begin either with big boulders or with smaller pieces. The former is the most difficult yet the fastest way. The latter is simpler but more time-consuming.
In this case, the best solution is to focus on the largest rocks and switch to the smaller bits when you start feeling exhaustion.
Its a nice illustration of the second matrix part: when we decide to concentrate exclusively on the critical tasks, we usually become weary and switch to the less crucial and demanding work.
Is there a way to avoid such effectiveness slips? First, you need a good plan: a major to-do list comprising of crucial tasks for weeks or months to follow.
Your plan may be created on your computer or written in a notebook, yet the most important thing is that it should include everything thats important. So, if you want to master programming languages, make a block schedule to monitor the process. In addition, leave small spaces for every day on your schedule for the unexpected tasks, for example, emails or phone calls.
In the end, your to-do list will help you to transfer all of your ideas on paper or create some electronic representation of your plans and thoughts.
Moreover, such a tool facilitates the process of completing your tasks: when you see a deadline date, you have a clear idea of the time thats left for you to finish your work.
Obviously, you will have to spend some time on the to-do list as well. Thus, dont forget to cut out several minutes a day to plan your work.
Streamline your decision-making process so you can focus on what really matters.
Would you trust a computer with important decisions of your life? Thats highly unlikely. In the end, the only one who knows what you need is you. Yet, how then do you enhance and advance your process of making decisions?
First, lets set the question aside to talk about the four kinds of input associated with every decision:
- Planned tasks: arranged meetings, e.g. the next months board meeting;
- Unplanned tasks: meeting your boss to ask for a day off;
- Contacts: data on customers, workers, or rivals;
- Remarks: something related to your tasks or work that needs further discussion, e.g. a report leaked from a competitor youd like to talk about at the next meeting.
These four input types correspond to various kinds of data, and you are the one who needs to find a proper place for each of them on your to-do list or calendar. Afterward, from these plans, you create one big schedule, like piecing together a puzzle.
Lets say youve got a calendar with your planned meetings and remarks, and you want to connect it to the list of your contacts in order to easily get in touch with the participants.
After learning how to work with this data, you can commence your search for the necessary technology to help you with the organization.
For example, you may use an email filter to save time on checking your mail. In general, most of an employees emails are spam, going through which requires much time.
Basically, use technological advancements for simple routine work in order to have more time on what really matters.
The most effective productivity system is useless if you arent taking care of your body and mind.
Having discussed all these effectiveness tools, we can now proceed to the critical issue that hasnt been touched upon: even the most fruitful effectiveness system is meaningless if you dont pay attention to your needs.
In short, your health directly impacts your effectiveness. Therefore, energy management is essential when taking care of yourself, in particular, your mind.
The human brain is only 2% of the total body mass, but it consumes 20% of a persons energy. Therefore, its essential to ensure there is sufficient amount of energy for your brain! However, todays lifestyles usually prevent that. In general, people spend most of their days working, sacrificing sleep and food, and continuously suffering from stress. In other words, people are incapable of controlling the level of their energy.
Yet, we can change it. In order to solve this problem, we have to realize that there are three sources of such energy.
The first is a strong purpose, which is about your inner stimulation that is the result of your productivity. Work satisfaction and beneficial activities, such as charity, also contribute to that.
Nevertheless, its insufficient even if your job is something you truly love and appreciate. In addition, you need to gain energy from your body, which is the second source. Humans are physically built to move around and regain their energy through activities, not by sitting or lying all day long.
The third source is other people. Even though we arent usually aware of it, our social life, various relationships influence our energy levels greatly. Therefore, spending time and effort to work on connecting with others is of utmost importance.
The main idea:
If you arent against implementing some changes, your effectiveness can be improved. You dont need to spend more time or effort though; its the quality of your work and maintaining your focus that need to be worked on. Moreover, your physical and mental health is also instrumental to the necessary amount of energy to stay productive.
A piece of advice:
If you are under pressure because of checking email all the time, take the time to change your inbox settings to facilitate the process.
Sort the new emails and move the old ones to the archives. Also, use filters to arrange your future mail. Thus, you wont drown in your emails ever again.
Despite your hectic schedule, take the time to eat and sleep properly as well as do some exercises.
We often succumb to our urges to miss a day or two when it comes to exercising during tough periods in our lives. Yet, it will only bring negative consequences. Remarkably effective individuals always take care of their health and devote time to it every day.