Author: Josiah Ross
When you really want something done, you give the assignment to a busy person. Why do we give it to someone who is busy? Because they get it done. If you need to get it done, whatever it is, follow these tips that have helped me double my work output.
Identify and Schedule
Identifying all of the tasks that you need to do, and then scheduling those tasks is something that will truly help your productivity. Before you start with the actual work, you have to know what you have to do, and when you are going to actually do it. When you don’t know what you have to do, or when you don’t know when you’re going to do it, you allow procrastination to creep in and ruin your workflow. You don’t climb up a mountain without a route, so don’t tackle the mountain of work you have to deal with without knowing how you’re going to go about it.
Scheduling your tasks can help you keep track of how much time that you should be spending and when you should be spending that time. Something that really helps me is giving myself a little less time than the work actually takes, so that you can begin to get faster at doing the tasks that you need to do. Personalizing the schedule toward your needs is important. If you’re like me, scheduling your whole day isn’t as good. Many other people, on the opposite side of the coin, keep a very strict schedule, even keeping schedules by the minute.
Eat the Frog First
One of Mark Twain’s most famous quotes was when he said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.” While that statement might seem a bit random and idiotic, it can actually be applied to our everyday lives. Do the thing that will be the most time-consuming first when you start working. Many people expel all their energy doing mundane tasks like answering emails, until they’re worn out once they get to the things that can make or break their career. The opposite is what should be happening. Use all your energy doing the things that really matter, and do those things during the first part of the day. Later, when all of the important work is done, you can cruise through the rest of the day with things that don’t matter as much, like answering those dreaded emails.
Flow is when you get in the rhythm of your work so much so that your work becomes more effortless and natural than you previously felt it did. Flow is also referred to as being “in the zone”, which everybody from your favorite athlete to your favorite president loves being in. It’s a good idea to use 20 minutes of your time, before you actually start working, to do things like scheduling and organizing, so that you can get into the flow of your work right before you eat the frog.Once you get in the zone, that’s when you need to eat the frog.
Creating flow makes you more productive because it produces less pressure and more focus, which in combination, can boost your productivity tenfold. Please, please, please, don’t use the 20 minutes right before you get to work doing meaningless things. While that puts you in a zone, it doesn’t put you in THE zone. The type of zone that meaningless tasks puts you in, is somewhere that you do not want to be. It puts you in a zone that is based on reacting to stimuli, rather than creating something new.
It is important to reward yourself. Machines run until they break down, or until they are given an order to stop what they’re doing. Don’t be a robot, be a human. Rewarding yourself gives you something to work toward, as well as giving your mind a break from critical thinking. Because taking a break to reward yourself gives your mind a break from critical thinking, it helps keep you in the zone. A break from critical thinking can help empty the tank, providing your brain more room to work.
One way that many people reward themselves is with a 5 minute media break after 25 minutes of hard work. This is one of the staple principles of the Pomodoro Method, one of the most highly regarded productivity methods on the face of the earth. You could also reward yourself with someone tangible, like a cookie, or a coffee that will keep you alert.
I must stress that your breaks shouldn’t take more than 5–10 minutes, and you should only take a break when you’ve actually been doing real work. Don’t cheat yourself and take breaks when you haven’t been actually working in the first place