Time Management Tricks for the Productivity Powerhouse
Think you’re some sort of master multitasker? Get ready for a very rude awakening. The truth is that only 2% of the population can effectively multitask, according to a widely-cited study by the applied cognition lab at the University of Utah*. These people are affectionately dubbed “supertaskers” by psychologists, and while many strive to be one, doing so is a lost cause – you either are or you aren’t.
As for the remaining 98% of us? Attempting to multitask actually lowers our productivity, and we don’t even realize it. According to Harvard Business Review, focusing on more than one thing at a time actually decreases productivity by 40% and lowers your IQ by 10 points*. To remain productive, a few simple tricks could change how you work and focus forever.
1. Start the day out right. It’s easy to open your computer and immediately get lost in a black abyss of emails and missed phone calls. Experts say to stop doing this immediately. The most productive people start each day by creating a plan. What do you want to accomplish? What is most important? How much time are you willing to spend on each task? A successful business has a plan, and so should you.
2. Prioritize and execute. Now that you’ve created a plan, organize the top two or three tasks that are the most important items to complete, and do those first. As the day goes on, people often get sucked into various tasks or distracted by their ever-increasing inboxes. However, once you’re finished completing the most important assignments, the entire day is already off on the right foot.
3. Learn to say “no.” When Fast Company looked at how the world’s busiest people handled time management, it cited Apple founder Steve Jobs famously saying, "Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things." Productivity takes discipline, and while making a lot of commitments is essential to being a leader, you also need to learn how to decline opportunities. Only take on tasks you know you can complete well and on deadline.
4. Bundle up related tasks. One of the pivotal pitfalls of multitasking is attempting to complete multiple different tasks at one time. In your daily plan, group together certain assignments and commitments that utilize the same skillset. For example, try to make phone calls to vendors right after or before calls to customers, or organize employee schedules when delegating employee assignments. Being in the mindset of a similar task will help you seamlessly transition into the next.
5. Create a system that works. It’s admittedly hard to manage time effectively on your own (which is likely why you’re reading this in the first place). Being organized saves a lot of time, but it also takes brainpower to keep everything straight. That’s why it’s important to seek out a system that makes your job easier by filing away documents, organizing tasks and keeping everything running smoothly. After all, if famous executives and celebrities have personal assistants, shouldn’t you at least have a digital one?
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