Learn to stop multitasking and you will be able to do far more with the same amount of minutes, while maintaining the steady, gradual steps that will give you the confidence to live the life you desire.
1) Batch your work. Start by grouping similar tasks together, such as “paperwork,” “correspondence,” or “planning.” Try to keep online and offline tasks separated, unless you are prepared to lose focus with each transition. Instead of being a slave to email by dipping in and out of your inbox dozens of times each day, hit all your reading and replies at pre-scheduled intervals.
Batching your work will help you discover your rhythm, increase your overall efficiency, give movement to your momentum, and let you get a glimpse at how much you really can get done in a day.
2) Evaluate the time required to finish a task, then see each to-do to the end. Too many people plow through their list without giving thought to how long each line item will actually need.
If you’re unsure how much time your regular tasks require, consider it a clear sign of a larger problem. If you’re not measuring minutes against production, then all you have is lines on a list with no structure in sight.
3) Make your to-do list your priority list. Prioritize your day either first thing each morning, or before closing down each night. Make sure your most pressing or unsavory activities are wiped from your day as early as possible.
Postpone the projects you’re most looking forward to working on, and use them as the dangling carrot to push you through the worst of your day. Chances are, multitasking is a means for you to procrastinate. By eliminating your worst assignments first, you’ll be eliminating your urge to procrastinate as well.
4) Banish distractions. It’s your responsibility to control the interruptions that surround you. Your work environment should be a sanctuary. Yes, there will always be an assortment of sudden emergencies (that comes along with modern life), but there are things you can do to structure your day in a way that makes it easy for others to respect it.
Treat your time with the same respect you’re asking from others. This means no mindlessly wandering the web, reading and sending emails at random, hopping on Twitter just to pass the time, or getting up to grab your fifth cup of coffee.
Stay in your seat until your work is finished and you will feel far better at the day’s end.
5. Put a “Gone Fishing” sign in the window. Whether you work from your home or drive to an office, you must be able to step into your own silent space every once in a while. Sometimes multitasking isn’t your fault, if you’re responding to the needs of those around you. But be careful. Never allow a lack of planning on one person’s part to create an unnecessary emergency for you.
6. Delegate your day. There’s never shame in asking for help when you truly need it. Sometimes multitasking isn’t a result of procrastination, but a genuine effort to get a week’s worth of work done in a day, because life conspired to put too much on your plate all at one time.
It takes confidence to delegate your work to someone else, especially the first few times you do it, but done correctly it’ll save you valuable time and allow you to put your focus where you need it most.
Your life is defined by how you spend your days. Trying to do too many things at once and not getting the results you’re looking for means you are wasting valuable time you can never have back.
Give each day your best by focusing on one task at a time.