Do you ever get to the end of a day and feel as though you have achieved very little? You started the day with a plan. Perhaps you had a list but instead of the list getting shorter, it continues to grow.
I feel your pain, especially at the moment because even though I was used to working from home, my son was at nursery but since COVID-19, my son is now at home with me and the juggle (struggle) is real. You know you want to increase productivity, but how?
Perhaps you are used to working in an office and now you work from home, this can lead to lots of procrastination and you see lots of distractions, such as the fridge or chores that need doing. Or maybe you have become more productive since working from home and you’ve now found out you can return to work, you need to get back into a different routine of balancing the chores at home and your job.
Whatever your situation, it can feel as though you are banging your head against the productivity window and I know how it can feel but it is possible to get organised, sometimes it’s about taking a step back, doing some reflecting and looking at a new approach.
The steps listed below might sound like it will add to your workload and/or stress but it’s all about increasing the flow of productivity. It can also be therapeutic because you can identify what needs completing, rather than what you think ‘should’ be completed.
1. Create a master list or a mind map
- You might think I am trying to create more work for you but this is a key starting point, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed right now.
- The first list is to write everything down that you ‘think’ you should/need to be doing because often we can have a lot of noise in our brain but by writing it all down, it might surprise you to see what is on it.
- If it is easier, create two lists or mind maps, one for personal tasks and the other for professional tasks.
2. Review the information
- This is where you need to be brutally honest with yourself and review each task to identify whether it falls into one of the following categories:
- Important and needs actioning
- Important but not essential
- Nice to do, you enjoy it but it adds no value
- To be reviewed in six months
- It’s been on your mind for some time but will add no value
- Label or highlight each task with one of the above options, or create some which are more appropriate to you.
- Now review the list again and make a note of whether the tasks that fall into categories ‘a’ to ‘d’’ are high, medium or low in terms of priorities.
- This process might make you realise you have had some tasks on your mind for some time but by writing them down, you might identify the relevance of it and how achievable it is.
3. Create a new ‘master’ list
- Now it is time to create a new list and if you didn’t with your original list or mind map, this time, you will create a new ‘master’ list which includes personal and professional tasks.
- When creating the list, use headings to identify the priority of the task, what the task is and the due date because this will help you to quickly identify what needs doing and when.
- Depending on how detail-orientated you are, you could include additional headings such as if the task relates to a certain project and/or person but ideally, you want to keep it as simple as possible. If it’s too complicated, you won’t stick with it.
4. Deciding which tasks to tackle first
- It’s all too easy to opt to do the easiest tasks first or the ones you enjoy but this will often result in you leaving key tasks at the bottom of the list.
- A better way is to think about how you work best, for example, if you find you have household chores to do but you hate them, such as ironing, why not attack it a time when you want to watch TV. That way, you will be distracted and less likely to think about the chore. Alternatively, you could look to tackle a task you least enjoy, first, get it out of the way and then do a task you enjoy doing afterwards.
5. Breaking tasks down
- Often it is easy to get distracted and procrastinate, especially if you have a bigger task to do but look to break it down into bite-size manageable tasks.
- If a deadline isn’t until later in the week or in a few weeks/months’ time, don’t try to do all the work in one go, sometimes it can be better to split the task/project into smaller chunks because your ideas and creativity levels can increase over time due to my thought time.
- If it is sorting out your garage, break it into sections of what needs to be sorted out first, for example, getting rid of the items you’re never going to use first. You know, the stuff that’s been collecting dust for years… get rid of it!
6. Time management
- If you know you spend far too much time working on something because you either don’t enjoy it or it is the opposite and you love working on something, set yourself a timer. There are some great time tracker tools out there such as Toggl. This can often be an eye-opener in helping you to realise where time is going.
- Another option is to complete tasks in no longer than 45-minute chunks, before taking a break or moving on to something else. It can be an excellent way to help you remain focused on what needs completing.
- If it’s a personal task such as sorting out the garden, decide on a day and add it to your diary so you know you must do it that day.
7. Be kind to yourself
- Getting organised will give you a sense of achievement and it will make you feel like you are taking back control.
- Sometimes, life gets in the way of what you are trying to achieve, especially right now with the lockdown in place but be kind to yourself, you can only do what you can do. However, taking small steps to think about what you can do right now and what you can do in the future when some sort of normality returns can make a massive difference.
- Reward yourself, if you have tackled tasks you have been putting off for ages, go for a walk afterwards, have a little dance, eat something yummy, or whatever you enjoy.
The seven steps I have suggested are very general and they can be tweaked, but the process can be applied to different aspects of your life.
For example, think about your digital filing system, how easy is it to find things?
You could quickly create a list to get it organised and work on a different folder structure for 20-30 minutes every day until it lows systematically. The same applies to your mailbox, an opportunity to look at moving from thousands of unread emails to an inbox with less than 20 emails in it!!
Sometimes, it is all about being held accountable and when you have a busy life or you work for yourself with no one there to hold you accountable, it’s easy to let things slide. Or it might be the opposite. You suddenly find you can’t see the wood for the trees because you are so busy fire-fighting with everything you are trying to achieve.
This is where I can help you!
Together, we can work on a plan to get you organised across all aspects of your life. I will help you to drill down into the detail and together we will identify what is required to make your life easier.
It might sound too good to be true, but get in touch to find out the difference I can make to your life!
Book a free 20-minute virtual cuppa with me to see if we would be a good fit for working together.