As promised on Monday in the first part of our series, we are here with part 2! In today’s article, which will also be the one with the most tips, we will take a look at methods, which you don’t need any technology for but that will test how strong your will is. But don’t worry, it won’t be necessary to make any major changes in your life, just a few smaller steps to get you where you want to be.
So what are the methods today?
1) Setting your priorities straight
It might seem that your windows are unbearably dirty and must be cleaned immediately, but are you sure that’s the case? Isn’t there something more important you should be doing? In times when we have no time to spare it is essential to be able to determine which tasks are the ones to focus on and which ones can wait a day or two. This is where our first technique comes in- the ABC method.
The goal here is to divide your tasks into 3 groups:
- A: the A group should contain tasks that are essential to do, can’t be postponed to later and that would resolve into consequences if not done. If you have more than 1 task in this group, label them again according to priority from A-1 to A-the number of the tasks.
- B: this group includes tasks that are still important, should be done but there is no immediate danger in not doing them. The consequences, if any, will be mild. You should not move to this group if there are still items remaining in the A group
- C: the least important tasks. It would be nice if you managed to get to them but nothing will happen if you don’t. In the C group, you would most probably include activities that you’d do in your free time.
Once you have your list complete, it’s time to get started with your A-1 task and work your way down to the Cs. The list should be done for the day ahead, not longer. It is ideal to set aside a few minutes to create the list the evening before or in the morning when you get up and are ready to face the day.
2) Eat the frog
A quote by Mark Twain says: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
The idea is, that once you get the most off-putting, tedious task done, you will already have had a productive day and everything else will seem easier to do. The first step would be stating what is your frog for the day, but even more challenging might be to get started. But once you are done you will feel accomplished and ready to face easier tasks.
3) Stop multitasking
Although multitasking might seem like a good idea (you get more done in a short amount of time, right?) the opposite is true. When we multitask, our focus is divided among several tasks and none gets full attention. Meaning that even though you might think that you save time by listening to your boss during a meeting and answering emails at the same time, you are more prone to make mistakes, miscommunicate and end up with a poor quality of your work.
It is easier said than done but the lesson here is- focus on the one thing in front of you. If the other tasks need to be done, create an ABC list as was mentioned in point 1 and come back to them.
4) Write down your interruptions
Let’s say you are finally working on that assignment that you have been putting off for a long time and suddenly you remember you wanted to pack your lunch for tomorrow. Or call your friend. Or work more on another project that must be finished soon. Now is not the time to do any of those things. Always have a piece of paper at hand and write down any distraction that crosses your mind and might steer you away from your current work. Once you are done with this task, look at the paper and resolve whatever it was that tried to distract you.
5) Set realistic goals
Let’s be honest, you probably won’t lose 20 pounds in a month. Or learn for your college exam in one night. Or put together a whole presentation for the meeting you have tomorrow. When we set unrealistic goals we not only set ourselves up for failure, we also lose motivation because we feel that it’s just not going to happen. It is important to know yourself and your abilities and set your goals accordingly. In ideal cases, when there is still plenty of time left, divide the ultimate goal into several smaller, more manageable tasks and those (if needed) into even smaller parts and get started with those. Step by step you will be closer to completion and you won’t be as stressed out. In some cases, it might even be possible to reach the goals you once considered unreachable, provided you make the right plan.