I know from my own experience, speaking to friends and family and connecting with people online that we all feel a little overwhelmed every now and again by how much we have to do and achieve each day.
From keeping our homes in order, looking after children, progressing our careers, working on a side hustle, keeping fit and healthy as well as maintaining meaningful relationships with the people we love – there is just so much on our to-do lists.
Managing this never ending list can be scary at times and leave us feeling like we are never on top of it.
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling really frustrated that I wasn’t getting enough done and whilst I was ‘busy’ all day long I felt like I wasn’t even scratching the surface.
I knew I couldn’t fit more hours in to the day without seriously compromising sleep, so I decided to try a few little tweaks here and there to boost my productivity and to help me realise how much I had actually achieved. I have still got some ways to go as I am easily distracted and a can be a pretty good procrastinator but these small changes helped me feel like I was getting things done.
My three really simple ways to boost your productivity and help you feel like you are on top of your to-do list
1. The top three
I am definitely a list writer especially in my professional life and at the end of every day I write out a list of all the things I need to do the next day. However sometimes this list can be as long as my arm (and I have unusually long arms) and it can feel more overwhelming than helpful. To ease this, I still write out the list but I highlight the top three things that I really must get done that next day. Then, as soon as I am at my desk that morning, it is those three things that I start on. If I get them all finished then great, I can move on to the other things on the list.
Anything that is on my list that hasn’t been achieved by the end of the day, is rolled on to the list for the next day, re-prioritised and the top three highlighted again, and so on.
It means that hopefully at some point during the day I have achieved the three most important things that I needed to, and I can feel satisfied with myself.
Of course it doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes something comes in that throws your top three right down to the bottom and that’s OK. I just write out a fresh list the next day and start again.
2. Eat the frog
This one is linked to the above and the term ‘Eat the frog’ was introduced to me by a colleague a couple of years ago (Hi Alison if you’re reading!). For some reason, it has stuck with me and I smile whenever I think of it. Basically, what it means is you get the task you want to do the least out of the way first. You know, that task that’s a bit boring, tricky or uncomfortable that keeps being re-added to the bottom of your list. Well imagine if by 11am you were dusting off your hands and it was done? You’d feel great. You’d feel like you’d achieved something and then you could get your head down to work on the things that you enjoy more, probably getting more of that done in the process.
Your frog could be getting through your backlog of emails, doing your hand-washing or making a sales call – it doesn’t matter. Get it done early and you will feel like you are getting on top of it!
3. Hide your phone
This one probably has had the greatest impact on me, and it is so simple. I am constantly distracted by my phone. I find myself reaching for it way too often; be it for a text message, a Whatsapp conversation, to check Instagram, to check emails, etc etc whatever. I’ll do it to fill a natural pause in my workflow but as we all know that a moments glance at a smartphone nearly always turns in to something more. An interesting newsletter, an Instagram rabbit hole, an email to respond to – none of it tends to be urgent but it is normally a pleasant distraction from the task at hand. To combat this I have started locking my phone away where I can’t get to it so easily.
When I’m at work I leave it in my car during the day, and just have a little look at it at lunchtime and lock it away again until the end of the day. My family have my work number in case of emergencies, and everything else can wait.
I can tell you this; it feels SO good! My work gets my full attention, and when I do look at my phone there is more waiting for me there, not just ten minutes of new Instagrams!
So there you have it. Three really simple things to boost your productivity and help you feel like you are on top of your to-do list.
I know there are loads more ways to boost productivity, but the top two are my go-to’s and the last one is my new found friend.
What are your most successful ways of boosting your productivity and feeling like you are on top of it? Let me know in the comments below.