Everyone’s familiar with the phrase, "work smarter, not harder" but that is not always easy to do. When all of your tasks seem to have the same priority, things can feel overwhelming. The overloaded feeling leads to stress, which can inhibit your ability to focus and get things done. There are ways you can prioritize tasks and get them done in a manner that leaves you stress free by the end of the day.
Make a list of your responsibilities and prioritize tasks. A list gives you a plan, and with a plan, you can forge ahead with a clear vision of what needs to be done. Without a plan, you are more likely to become distracted. It does not matter whether your list is handwritten on a sheet of paper, typed neatly in a document or stored in some fancy app on your phone. What matters is that you have a list. Begin with the most important task you must complete. Don’t worry about how many tasks are on your list, but do try to be realistic about what you can do in any given day. You can divide your tasks by urgency, putting must-do tasks ahead of all others. A recent article on Nexxt states that success has little to do with how many tasks you left undone at the close of business but, instead, is about what you actually accomplished. Regardless of how much you get done, the list helps prioritize tasks.
Learn to focus. Today’s world offers up many distractions. Learn to recognize when you are getting distracted and pull yourself back to the task at hand. An article published on Inc.com suggests staying focused by putting strict deadlines on individual tasks, a time management exercise which prevents you from becoming too wrapped up for too long. Limit meetings to only the ones that will help you accomplish something, and check your email and voice mail messages at certain times throughout the day. Even if you limit checking your email to every couple of hours, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish. Remember that prioritizing tasks does not mean answering emails the moment you receive them.
Keep things clean and tidy. This may sound silly, but when things are within sight, we cannot help but find ourselves distracted by them every so often. If we allow ourselves to attend to these things in an attempt to get them out of the way, we may never get anything else accomplished. Time management is more than simply feeling busy: it is sticking to a prioritized task list that helps you take care of business. You may think stacks of files and a plethora of post-it notes are helping you to remember things that need to be accomplished, but they are only adding to distractions.
It is possible to get more accomplished in your work day when you prioritize tasks, focus on those tasks and keep a tidy work area. In fact, you might be surprised at how much more you can accomplish by simply adhering to a plan. Additionally, your workload will feel like less like a load and more like an achievement.
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