Do you often look at people around you and wonder how on earth they squeeze so much into their day? While you seem to stare into space, chase your tail and never get through a to do list? We all get the same 24 hours a day so why is it that some people seem to be so productive and other struggle? That feeling of panic and the day unravelling around you can be so damaging and it really can stop you enjoying your work.
Luckily, thanks to our guest writer, Tara of Tara Punter Coaching, there are some steps can you take to ensure you’re making the very most of the time available to you.
Firstly, set aside the rather manic nonsense claims from (self-appointed) successful people on LinkedIn (rise at 4:30am, workout by 6am, self-development until an egg white only omelet at 7am…), because there are ways you can stay productive and motivated all day long. Here are my tried and tested top tips from years of running my own businesses.
Don’t multitask. Ever.
Is your to do list bursting at the seams? It can be tempting to start one task, decide something else is more urgent and start that, forget why you’re logged into Facebook, start another task…you get the picture! This rule is essential to keeping you focused and productive.
Sort out your to do list so you know which jobs need to be done first and then work on ONE AT A TIME. Were you told when you were younger that multitasking is something amazing? Well, it turns out that’s just not true! Research shows that if you’re trying to do lots of tasks at the same time, you’ll struggle to tune out distractions and complete tasks more slowly. Avoid!
Break down tasks into smaller steps.
Let’s look at that to do list again. Are you putting big, complicated tasks on it which end up just overwhelming you? Instead of feeling excited about work, you dread it. That’s not an attractive prospect for a busy person and you might feel reticent to get started. Instead, break them down into smaller, bite-sized steps and tackle one of those at a time. Not only will you get a warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment every time you tick one of those little tasks off the list, you’ll also be getting a little bit closer to completing a big job each time you crack the small one.
Set small tasks for yourself.
In a similar vein, I’d also advise you to revisit your goals and make sure you’ve broken those down into lots of small, actionable steps. Just like a big task can put you off getting stuck in, if your goals are just too big to comprehend you might not connect with them. Plus, you need to break goals down into sort, medium and long-term goals to even know how to tackle them.
That information allows you to set timescales and milestones which in turn helps you create a to do list and those all-important smaller tasks.
Put the phone away!
Our mobile phones are a huge distraction but don’t be too hard on yourself if you think you’re addicted to yours. The apps we use – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp – are designed by very clever people to trigger the same parts of our brain as addictive substances. Checking for new likes, notifications, replies and more can quickly become an unconscious habit which you need to break.
So, pop that phone out of reach (and on silent) while you concentrate on work. If you need to use the phone for work then try to be present, get the task done and then put the phone down again.
Give yourself a break every hour
I set a timer on my phone when I put it to one side so that I’m prompted to take a break after a solid hour of work. I’ll get a coffee or glass of water and check the phone for any urgent messages from family and loved ones. I make sure I get up and move every time I take a break and go for a walk every single lunchtime. The sedentary nature of desk-based work is bad for our health and it means our brains get jaded and bored.
A walk outside will stimulate your brain and get the blood pumping around your body – and it’s often where some of my best ideas come from.
Reward yourself for completing tasks
I get a little buzz just from ticking jobs off my list, but I also make sure I reward myself when I reach bigger milestones. And how you choose to reward yourself is totally up to you! That might mean taking a 30-minute break with a coffee and a magazine. It could be putting on your favorite song as loud as possible and dancing around the house. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it could even be a sneaky Twirl when you’ve nailed something tricky.
It sounds obvious, but it’s so important to make sure you only get the reward when you’ve completed the tasks or tasks you need to do. That way you’re wiring your brain to link pleasure to accomplishing the tasks on your to do list and you’ll find you embrace work rather than feel overwhelmed by it. How cool is that!?
I really hope these steps help you if you’re struggling to get the most out of your day. It’s said you need to repeat an action for 21 days to embed it as a habit, so don’t give up. Keep at it and if you have a bad day (we ALL sometimes stare into space and get lost in our thoughts) just start over and focus. For more mindset, growth and marketing tips make sure you follow me on Instagram, like me on Facebook and listen to my podcast ‘Tara Talks’. You can also learn more about my coaching services on my website www.tarapuntercoaching.co.uk