I've given 960 presentations on various aspects of achieving a healthy work-life balance and being more productive. At times, audience members have sent me summaries of my talks. One individual in particular forwarded along 10 tips on productivity I’d like to share with you to help you start 2019 off on the right foot.
Here they are:
1) Review and prepare your to-do list the night before: When you take this step, you're better prepared to start the next day. It will also ensure your focus remains on your top priorities and you can hit the ground running in the morning.
2) Start with the hardest task: When you tackle the toughest item first, before moving to progressively easier tasks, you do yourself a great favor. Not only will it not be hanging over your head all day, but you’ll also take care of something important when you’re still alert.
3) Periodically review your to-do list: A periodic review enables you to more effectively plan your days and weeks, reshuffling items as needed to reflect changes in your schedule. Also, mixing easy tasks with hard ones will help you sail through the day with more energy and focus.
4) Take strategic breaks throughout the day: These don’t have to be long, either. Ten one-minute breaks strategically taken will enable you to be more productive than if you work the whole day through without them. Simply put, pausing once in a while is actually good for you.
5) Establish an agenda before each meeting: An agenda keeps you on track. It lets all parties know the sequence of topics to be addressed. It will also ensure you end the discussion on time, keeping you on schedule throughout the day.
6) Think positive: Each time you find yourself vacillating during the day, recall you are happier when productive as opposed to not. That alone could help you start on the next task at hand or proceed with the one that's currently bogging you down.
7) Continually separate the important from the urgent: Urgent tasks are those that scream at us but, in the grand scheme of things, are not that vital. Important tasks add value to you, some end-user, your team, your boss and/or your firm.
8) Use a timer: Sometimes, seemingly important tasks can be interrupted by the impulse to check emails or take phone calls. Set a timer for 20 minutes and focus on one thing, setting correspondence and other personal tasks aside for that time. When it’s up, answer your client or take care of another small task. Then, reset the timer and get back to work.
9) Anticipate obstacles: They will occur, often multiple times daily. No one endlessly sails through eight or nine hours unscathed. You should expect to be interrupted, run into an unexpected challenge or otherwise have something happen to derail your to-do list a bit. Knowing this will help you feel calmer when a problem comes up.
10) Get ready to leave early: Prepare for your daily departure from the workplace long before you’re actually ready to head out. Decide what you want to complete before leaving. And, once you walk out the door, do so with a clean mind. When you reach your next destination, be it home or someplace else, be there! Have a life for the rest of the day.
Jeff Davidson, a.k.a. “The Work-life Balance Expert”®, speaks to accounting firms and associations on increasing their work-life balance so they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a life away from work. He is the author of Everyday Project Management, Breathing Space, and Simpler Living. Visit breathingspace.com.