In this world of quick fixes and instant everything, is there a shortcut to getting things done?
For decades, I was a serial procrastinator. Fiddling pencils until lunchtime only to hurry up and make a presentation 15 minutes before a meeting gives me a real adrenaline rush. However, after some time, I realized that cramming just made me half mad and all stressed. Even worse–it put me on the brink of losing my job.
Changing habits isn’t for the weak, but it’s the inevitable path you’ll have to take if you want to get things done. Now, these are not quick fixes, but these habits will slowly but surely help you to get things done, day in and day out.
1. Work like you are on a half day
If you are like most folks, you spend your mornings sipping coffee, checking out the latest updates from your social media newsfeeds and replying back and forth to emails. Before you know it, it’s lunchtime. Half the day is now gone. The best way to work is to tackle your most difficult tasks in the morning. Work like you are about to leave the office by lunch. Attack your tasks like you don’t have much time left. Resist the temptation to check your emails first thing in the morning. Likewise, don’t open your chat messages. If there’s something urgent that must be done, surely the sender would be calling you to follow up by now. Everything else that is in your inbox can wait up until midday. Reply to your emails once you are done with your biggest task for the day.
2. Cut your to-do list in half
Limit your to-do list for the day to one small post-it note. Portion your lengthy tasks into segments that can be done in an hour or two. Having a long to-do list puts you in fight and flight mode. Being swamped with work and feeling not in control will make you work slower. Empower yourself by picking out only the top three tasks for the morning and do the same for the afternoon. Do these important tasks before you move on to other time-consuming activities.
3. Cut your tasks into small 45-minute chunks
Put yourself in a working frenzy for no more than 45 minutes at a time. Try to do one of your most important tasks in the morning, and do it before you make your morning coffee. Reward yourself for a small job done fast by sipping that first cup. Throughout your day, portion your tasks into 45 minutes sprints. After the 45 minutes timer hits zero, reward yourself once again by drinking a large glass of water. Your focus won’t dwindle if you cut your tasks in 45-minute chunks. These mini-breaks keep you productive throughout the day.
4. Develop smart morning and night habits
Resist the temptation to put off work until you feel ready. Don’t give yourself an option to catch up on your most important tasks after dinner time. This practice is like giving yourself an excuse to put off work until late in the day. Even if you say that you are not a morning person, do your best work in the morning, not at night. If you want to be better than the rest, forgo gratification and comfort at night. Cut off your cable connection. That large TV might look enticing, but it will surely rob you of your precious me-time. Reserve your nights to learning something new about your job or business.
Work smart, not hard. Looking harried and tired is counterproductive to your work image. Breezy and easy is the new cool. There is a way to do things right and fast without looking stressed and worn out. It’s all up to you. Just make the shift right now.