Being busy doesn’t always mean being productive. Most of the time, we’re actually guilty of being too busy to be productive. Structuring and scheduling your day can make you more effective at work, and therefore help you get busy being productive.
First, break up the tasks that are ahead of you, and then define/understand the following:
- Your purpose.
- What you’re working on.
- What you want to achieve.
- Who is involved?
- Your deadlines.
Once this has been determined, and with a little self-motivation already injected just by knowing your purpose, you can begin laying out your project.
Firstly, you need to set a to-do list—knowing exactly what needs to be done, when. This way, you’ll know in advance who you need to work with on that specific project and start planning. Be realistic in your planning. Remember that you only have 8 (or so!) hours of work in one day. Planning work that needs 10 hours of completion in an 8-hour day may lead to disaster. Yes, you can be busy the whole day, but you probably won’t be productive.
To make the most out of your day, you need to adopt the following:
Learn to say “NO”
Your priorities come first. It’s important that you learn to say NO to someone else’s priorities, especially if they interfere with yours. It isn’t easy, but if you take on everything that’s placed on your table, you will not achieve what you have planned to in that specific time frame.
Focus on the important stuff, not only the urgent
Distractions will always happen, but one can make the decision whether those distractions are urgent or important, or maybe even irrelevant. Make the choice to turn away from the unnecessary distractions, and back to your scheduled work.
Finish what you started
This is the most vital point. Once you have your day planned, and if you don’t get this right, you can still get things wrong and your day may end up being a busy one, and not a productive one. If you start working on something, make sure you finish it. Carry the task through to the end!
This is an easy trap to fall into—you may find that when you are scratching items off of the to-do list, there may be tasks that don’t need much time to complete, hence you are convinced you can juggle them later on. Next minute, the task is due and you have to rush through it. This messes up your schedule and forces you to become so busy, that you may even miss other deadlines trying to finish this one task that could have been done earlier on.
Now, to change to all that’s been mentioned above may seem like a drastic shift. However, you don’t have to change everything overnight. Small changes are the baby steps to later achieving your goal of working smarter and becoming more productive. Set aside 10 minutes at the beginning of every day, and jot down, on a piece of paper, everything you would like to have done in that day. Go over the list and make sure it’s realistic. Define all of your important tasks, and then the urgent ones.
You will soon find that when you simplify your schedule, you have more space for what matters. It’s like discovering bonus time in your day. Instead of being busy the whole time, you find that you get more things done, and yet you still have time to take breaks that allow you to breathe and refocus.