Want to increase your productivity level? A little organization can let you calmly hit the ground running.
Sometimes, increasing your productivity level isn’t about working faster. It’s about getting better organized, so you’ll be able to do more in less time and with less stress. Here’s how.
Determine your key activities for the week. Sit down in a quiet location for 15–20 minutes and plan your week ahead. Write down the key projects and tasks you need or want to accomplish. Consider all the important meetings you’re already scheduled to attend. What prep time will you need?
For many people, the best time to do this planning is on Friday afternoon or at some point during the weekend. For anyone who gets anxious on Sunday evenings or on Monday mornings thinking about their workweek, this short planning period can help alleviate some of those feelings of worry.
Block your calendar. Schedule the time you’ll need to complete your high-priority tasks and projects. Also, be sure to block any time you’ll want to prep for important meetings so you can walk in feeling ready for the discussions. I like to think of this exercise as a way of taking back my time, so I’m better prepared to say “no” to some requests, delegate others and push other requests out for future work.
Carve out email time. Try setting aside specific times for checking your email throughout the day, such as when you get up, when you arrive at work, right before and after lunch, once in mid-afternoon, before you leave work, and (possibly) one more time in the evening. Then, avoid checking your email when you’re in a meeting or when you’re working on an important project or task.
Switch from multitasking to single-tasking. The problem with trying to multitask is all that shifting back and forth between tasks isn’t all that efficient because, each time we do it, it takes our brain some time to refocus. While it might seem efficient on the surface, it isn’t — studies show that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent.
Prep your attire. Based on your meetings and the key activities for the week, determine the clothes to wear each day and hang the outfits in order, in your closet. Why waste time searching through your closet each morning (while trying not to slosh coffee on your clothes)? Taking a few minutes each weekend to prep your attire will save time and decrease your stress level during the week.
Plan your breakfast food. For many people, one of the most stressful times during the workweek is getting ready for work. If mornings tend to feel chaotic, take another step toward decreasing stress by planning breakfasts ahead of time. If you shop for items on the weekend, you’ll also be more likely to have your kitchen stocked with healthy food that you can eat on the go, if necessary.
Bonus: Plan some healthy lunch meals you can take to work with you. You’ll save time, feel better and save money versus eating out.
By mindfully approaching your week ahead, you will free yourself from the tyranny of chaos and stress, and you can better focus on what’s most important.