Disclaimer: If you still are a serial multi-tasker, what you’re going to read is going to make you seriously uncomfortable.
However, if you are open to finding ways to be more productive and to grease up your workflow, then look no further than a few centimetres below this sentence.
For some reason, everyone believes that multi-tasking is the Holy Grail of productivity even though billions of articles out there talk about how multi-tasking simply CANNOT work. In fact, most people will tell you NOT to multi-task simply because it affects the quality of work.
And I guess the reason why such facts are ignored is because no one else knows what to do with it, and it seems imperative to need to know how to multi-task. But I have set out to give away some replacements so you know what is the most productive way to get started with your day instead!
Ignore Your E-mails…
Why? E-mails are the ultimate productivity deadweight. But you probably hear (or have heard) this often in the office… “Have you replied my e-mail yet??” Because you have to keep switching between your task on hand and communicating, your workflow may be negatively affected.
Cheat: Not entirely ignoring it per se. Instead, allocate a quick and specific half-an-hour where you ONLY check e-mails, and clear the most immediate ones first. Because you will be ignoring this later, you will find that you can focus on your tasks much better.
Plan Your Daily Tasks… Including When To Drink Your Coffee – Yes You Read Me Right!
You need to decide when to focus on doing productive work of course. As for the coffee part, there actually is a specific hour where coffee works best but that’s another topic for another day. The most common behaviour trap people fall into is to start the most “urgent” task immediately, realise that they spent too much time on it, thus failing to complete other tasks optimally.
Cheat: Allocate 2 hours of your office time to give your all on a task to see it to completion. Adjust according to difficulty of task, and you will start discovering a whole new range of time you never though you had before!
Learn to Complete Your Tasks in Steps
There’s no way to approach tasks in a single leap, and you need to stop thinking you can or should. In fact, you should see your tasks as a project and you break it down into smaller tasks. Create step by step milestones such that upon reaching a milestone, you give yourself a pat at the back. Often, because of the magnitude of the task that we have at hand, we fail to complete it – worst yet, we may even procrastinate taking action on it!
Cheat: Take every task step-by-step or it may get overwhelming. Use 5-10 minutes to plan your task flow or create a checklist and watch your productivity levels soar.
Know When to Say “No!”
In a polite way of course. When you are focusing on a task on hand, you shouldn’t allow other tasks to start piling up because it will cause you unnecessary stress to complete everything. Understand that you have priorities and there’s no need to mull over something that hasn’t even started.
Cheat: If you fear discrimination for rejecting assignments, simply write it down in a piece of paper, and then come back to it only AFTER you finished your task on hand.
Do you have your own productivity “cheat”?
All of us have a certain way of doing things. I have mine, you have yours, and I would be glad to hear what yours are. Maybe it can help me cheat in the office too!