Improve your work productivity with these 3 methods
You’ve heard it before, hell, you’re living with it: maintaining productivity in lockdown is hard. Managing your work-life balance from home is one big aspect and something we chat about a lot over at @aubsu_matter but keeping on track with your workload is a whole different kettle of fish.
We’ve gathered some scientifically backed, easy methods for boosting your productivity. Give them a go and stick with the ones that makes a positive impact on your life.
The Pomodoro Technique
This is one of the most popular and widely adopted time management techniques. Named for the tomato shaped kitchen timer, it focuses on when your brain needs to take breaks in order to stay engaged.
Here’s how it works:
- Decide on your task
- Set a timer (you can use your phone timer or a regular old clock if you need to hide your phone to avoid distractions)
- Set 25 minutes and work for this time
- Stop when the timer goes and take a short break (3-5mins)
- Repeat until you’ve had 4 sessions of 25 minutes working (that’s 3 breaks) then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
- Then repeat from step 1 until you’re done or you’ve been going too long.
Make sure you stick to your 25 minute pomodoros! If you are interrupted, you’ll need to reset.
There are also some variations on this time structure that might work better for you. For example, you could work in 90 minute time periods rather than a 25 minute focus period. This reflects a natural concentration cycle.
Alternatively, you might not have control over time slots, as you may have set lecture time or jobs to work around. If this is the case, identify your time slots where you can get some work done and stick to them.
It’s all about what works best for you so try some different time slots out to see what suits you best.
There are loads of Pomodoro apps available on iPhone and android from the app store to help you keep time.
We could write a whole blog post on procrastination (maybe we will!), so we’ll keep this to the point. There are so many reasons why we procrastinate, not all of them in our control. Key reasons can be laziness, fear, perfectionism, over-estimating our future productivity, and general dislike of the task we have to do.
To overcome procrastination, it can help to root out the source – do you fear failure so you’re putting off trying? Are you struggling to manage your mental health? Do you value your present over the future? Tackling these issues head on can help ease procrastination as a side-effect.
You can also try these tips:
- Tackle the tasks you dread the most at the beginning of the day. The longer we have to think about them the longer we’re going to put them off.
- Realistically plan your time. What makes you think you’re going to do the task later when you don’t want to do it now?
- Reward yourself for completing tasks – incentivising yourself is good and sometimes the task itself isn’t a reward in itself. Treat yourself to a longer break, some downtime or a treat.
- Write a decent to-do list…
Write an effective to-do list
Sounds simple. It isn’t always. Ineffective to-do lists can overwhelm us, confuse tasks or lead to poor time management. Here’s how to get it right:
Don’t try and fit everything into one list
You probably need a few lists. For example, separate long- and short-term to-do lists, keep different lists for uni and personal tasks, split daily and weekly lists up.
Personally, I like to create a big list of everything I need to do so nothing gets forgotten. Then, I’ll select items from that and break them down into simply tasks for the day. I’ll do that each morning so I start the day with a clear list of to-dos that I focus on.
Make it work for you
How do you like list making? On a notepad? On your PC? On an app? There’s loads of methods so find one you like. Personally, I like paper so you have the satisfaction of crossing something out.
Understand what you can and can’t do
I have a special circle symbol I use for tasks in process. This means that I’ve done what I can but I’m waiting on something, whether it’s another person, a delivery, a release date or anything that takes it out of my hands. This is helpful because it keeps the item in your mind (and on your list) but shows that you’ve done what you can for now.
Don’t worry about benching stuff!
To-do lists should be flexible. You can’t predict what will come up each day so sometimes you will have to carry tasks over to the next day, week or month – that’s okay! Just adapt and be flexible.
Keep it neat
Write it out again often as your completed tasks get ticked off. You want a clear focus not an overwhelming, scribbled piece of paper!
We'll be releasing more content on productivity this month on @aubsu_matter so keep checking in for tips and advice.