At any given point in time, I will always have an overwhelmingly long list of things to do. The list never clears. As I check off one task, another one would inevitably be added on instantly. I do have a Type A personality. Having a checklist helps me get things done.
Not all tasks are created equal. Some may be low hanging fruits that can be done quickly. Other ones may be emotionally draining.
Personally, I would look at what tasks I can do easily and knock those out quickly, especially at the end of the day where I may be exhausted. For instance, if I need to get more milk, I go into my auto pilot mode and just get it done.
But when I have to do any work that requires more mental thinking, such as writing or developing a plan, I need some quiet and uninterrupted time. I will have to figure out when is the best part of the day for this work. Sometimes, it would be first thing in the morning. Other times, it would be at the end of the day when my family is sleeping. But I know this work cannot be done when I may be constantly needed to answer questions or attend to clients’ needs.
And then there are tasks that may be too demanding and then I would figure out if I can “outsource” them to experts to do.
I also need to listen to my body. There are times when I have planned to get few things done but they never happen. Don’t beat yourself over it.
I also look for hidden opportunities. Do you commute to work and may have twenty minutes to spare? Why not listen to that audio book, the webinar or podcast that you have been trying to find time to do? Or if a meeting finishes early and you have few minutes before your next meeting, you can respond to few quick emails or return a phone call that you may otherwise not have time do.
There is no simple recipe for being more productive. We all have to look at our lifestyle, our work and other environmental factors. If I have to sum it up in a quick check list, below would be it:
- Identify all the tasks to be completed
- Determine how involved they are physically, mentally and emotionally
- Decide on when is the best time of the day to get them done, or postpone to a later time
- Look for hidden opportunities to complete more work
- Be realistic and positive
Finally, celebrate when you have had a productive day and do not let your list-of-things-to-do define your life either.