Understand Your Body’s Timetable
It’s important to organise your day around your body’s natural rhythms. Tackle complex tasks when your energy is at its optimal level. For many, this may mean first-thing in the morning, after you’ve rested and eaten. Save low-intensity, routine tasks for periods when your energy regularly dips, like late-afternoon. Everyone is different, so it’s important to understand your own timetables.
Prioritising tasks takes a lot of mental effort, so you should plan to think about your day or week when your brain is the freshest.
Then, organise your time considering which tasks are most important, how much time you’ll need for each, and the best time of the day or week to complete them based on your body’s rhythms.
Our brains are wired to be very good at executing patterns. Establishing routines around the way you carry out tasks, makes you more productive. For example, Tate recommends creating email rules to automate checking email, responding to routine requests and archiving emails. You may create a similar routine for opening, reading and filing physical documents. In the same way, stick to set routines for starting and completing new projects or delegating tasks to others.
Group Similar Tasks
The brain also learns and executes complex tasks by grouping similar tasks together. For example, you may make all of your phone calls one after another, or draft and send emails at one time.
Complex tasks, like writing or strategising, take a lot of mental energy, and your brain can only focus for a limited amount of time. That means it’s critical to take breaks and let your brain rest. Take a walk or socialise for a bit. Then, when you get back to work, you’re energised again.
Create A Five-Minute List
When you don’t have the drive to start a major task or you find your energy waning, using a five-minute list: A to-do list of easy, low-intensity tasks that you can do in less than five minutes. It might be an internet search, printing out and sorting documents, or light research. Whatever it means for you, the five-minute list can help you be productive even during the times you have difficulty concentrating.
Many of us struggle to multi-task. Nothing gets your full attention and you’re more likely to forget things. Instead, it’s better to focus on one item at a time.
Do A Daily Brain Dump
“Popcorn brain” – the incessant popping of ideas and to dos into your thoughts–by doing a brain dump, where you empty the contents of your brain by writing down all the myriad thoughts, ideas and errands that pop up. Just focus on getting them all out and then connect the dots later.
Make Routine Tasks Fun
One of the reasons people often procrastinate is that they find a task boring and have trouble motivating themselves to do it, but those tasks still need to get done. I suggest making the routine work more fun, perhaps by listening to music or trying a new environment. Have your team meeting in the park or during lunch, for example.
Use ‘High-Performance Procrastination’
Believe it or not, procrastination is not always the enemy of productivity. It sends an important signal. If you’re procrastinating, ask yourself why. Is the idea not yet fully formed? Is the task even worth completing at all? Is the project out of alignment with your goals or skills? Use the information to cull your to-do list and focus on what’s really important.