Stamina in your life means not just energy you have throughout days. It’s also about the productivity you show when performing work tasks, solving complicated issues, and managing your time. But when you’re busy, it’s hard to meet all deadlines and stay on top of your performance.
Then, is there a way to plan your day and achieve your goals without being drained? Firstly, you should define why you fail to become productive.
Reasons why you can feel yourself unproductive
If you are struggling to plan your day but still don't have time for everything you planned, don't fret, you're not alone! UK research shows that the average person is only productive for less than three hours per day. So, it's no wonder you feel inefficient throughout the day. Now let's look at exact reasons for being unproductive:
At the beginning of your week, you have specific tasks to complete until the weekend. But suppose you fail to prioritize them in order of importance. In that case, you may find yourself wasting your time sorting your smartphone files instead of finishing the urgent project.
McKinsey & Company research has shown only 9% of career professionals find their time allocation effective. Moreover, 48% of professionals think they fail to prioritize tasks according to their company's strategy.
What will you likely do when facing a challenging task? Of course, postpone it until tomorrow! Procrastination is the most terrific evil of career professionals. Still, it accompanies us daily. As a result, you won't even complete half of the planned tasks.
And the problem is more significant than you can imagine —research found 20% of US citizens procrastinate daily. Procrastination also can drastically affect your career. Another study has proved procrastinators have lower salaries, a higher chance of being unemployed, and shorter durations of employment.
There's nothing wrong with being diligent. Well, until you become a perfectionist. Perfectionism is a powerful productivity killer if you let it get over you. When you are scared to finish the project because you want to make it perfect, that's a sign your perfectionism has already become an obstacle.
Some people think perfectionism is an excellent trait for productivity. But Dalhousie University's survey shows that perfectionists are counterproductive when striving to do their job flawlessly.
If you've noticed that you have one of the above habits, then it's time to pump your productivity! And that's where time-management skills come in handy.
Why should you perform time-management?
With time-management, you can control your daily routine instead of being under the constant pressure of circumstances. It also helps you to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Generally, it can bring such improvements to your life:
Show better results at work
Time-management helps you perform better at work. That means you're in control of the whole process so that you can complete more tasks in a shorter time and with less stress. The survey discovered time-management helps you perform working tasks at the highest skill level and easily prioritize them.
Meet deadlines easily
Even hearing the word "deadline" can make us sick, not even mentioning dealing with them at work. But time-management can sweeten this pot. With its help, you can evaluate the time you need to accomplish each task, therefore meeting deadlines without haste. What's more, time-management will help you finish tasks in advance to feel more relaxed when working.
The CareerCast Job Stress report states more than 71% of people are stressed at work, while strict deadlines are the most common reason for workplace stress. Effective prioritizing will give you enough time to complete urgent tasks so that you won't feel guilty or stressed. Plus, you'll manage to avoid time-consuming distractions that lower your productivity level.
Save more time for yourself
When you master your time-management skills, you need less time to finish your daily working routines or solve a tangled problem. Thus, you'll have more time to spend with your beloved ones or on your hobby. And that also matters in terms of productivity as when you're well-rested you are more efficient.
Despite all the benefits time-management offers, you may find it tricky to plan your day. Yet, with the right strategies, you can master your time-management skill, increase your productivity, and have extra time for your self-realization.
Time-management strategies to boost your productivity
The thoughtful approach is the core thing when it comes to time-management. When you're calm and steady, there's no task you can't complete. But what you also need is thoughtfulness to realize your actual capabilities, build realistic plans, and set achievable goals. Though, these time-management strategies can take your performance to the next level.
Be realistic when setting your goals
Most of the goals you set may seem hardly approachable because you plan to accomplish them in the distant future. But try to be more realistic towards your goals, and you'll see you can reach them faster. The psychological research also states attainable goals link to your well-being, overall success, and personal growth.
Set specific small measurable goals for the week ahead, and evaluate your progress during the weekends. You'll see which tasks were too time-consuming and where you procrastinate more. Although, you'll also get results that you can be proud of — that will boost your self-esteem and make you more productive when completing further tasks.
How you can do it?
Realistic goals are those you can achieve without changing much in your life. For example, if you want to grow your current business worth or workout every second day of your week for an hour — that are achievable goals. Even if you need a month or year to reach these goals, they’re still realistic because you set them according to your initial capabilities.
In turn, when you set a goal to become a millionaire in six months when you haven’t even started your business, that means you’re unrealistic. We have a tip on how you can measure your goals — ask yourself, “Can I reach this goal with what I have now?” and “How much time will I need to reach it?”. And if your capabilities allow you to reach the goal in the nearest future, then achieve it.
Separate your goals
The next thing you should learn is to separate your goals due to the time they need. Write down your major and minor assignments, then mark which ones are easy-approachable, repeatable, and take less time — these are your daily goals. For example, you can drink eight glasses of water or check your email and answer urgent messages within one day, so mark them daily.
Then decide on the long-term tasks that are impossible to complete in one day. It can be a particular workout goal or a work project — mark them as weekly goals so you'll be aware they will take more time. You can divide weekly goals into small steps and perform one action a day to achieve it until the end of the week.
After that, choose the goals that are hard to accomplish. Let's suppose you want to read ten books or learn French. Mark such goals as monthly and set specific days to go back to them so that they won't bother you during more essential tasks.
How you can do it?
It’s hard to keep all tasks and priorities in mind when you’re busy. Thus, consider using a planner or a calendar to write down all your tasks, set their status, and prioritize rank. You can also write down an approximate time each task will take you.
We’re not suggesting you get all obsessed with every minute. But when all your tasks are on paper or your screen, it will be easier for you to move towards them and evaluate your progress.
Use the "six-tasks" strategy
The majority of the time-planning strategies are hard to perform. They require you to make long to-do lists, live on a schedule, and evaluate every step you make towards goals. But aren't these tasks too distractive, especially if you need to stay concentrated? Then consider trying this accessible time planning strategy from productivity consultant Ivy Lee.
His strategy was easy as pie — write down six significant tasks for tomorrow before going to sleep. Prioritize them according to their importance. The next day, perform the first daily goal and not move to another until you finish it. Accomplish other assignments in the same manner. This strategy lets you focus intensely on each task so that you can complete them on the highest skill level.
How you can do it?
This strategy may sound a bit confusing when you have lots of small tasks during the day. But it can help you in such cases too — divide your small tasks into six groups according to the type and complete them one by one.
For example, your first task would be to clarify your next steps in an ongoing work project. Then you insert all the necessary changes in it. You can dedicate your third goal to your productivity, such as meditating for 15 minutes or taking a small break to talk with your colleagues. Work won’t tear you between dozens of tasks if you gradually complete all your daily plans.
"Eat your frogs" in the morning
Don't let this phrase confuse you — we're not going to eat real frogs! In turn, "Eat that frog" is a time plannin strategy from Brian Tracy, inspired by Mark Twain's quote. This strategy's main thought is to do the hardest and unpleasant tasks at the beginning of your day, so the worst will be behind you till the end of your day.
Thinking about a complicated task can ruin your productivity. Thus, by finishing it early, you'll be less stressed and more motivated when managing other daily routines. But this strategy has disadvantages too. When you start your day with the worst task, you could end up being drained and tired after completing it (it relates to the task nature). So apply it when facing mentally, not physically strenuous activities.
How you can do it?
The first thing you should do is to choose which task is most stressful for you. Calling your doctor, preparing for the project showcase, or making a presentation to impress your boss can be a challenging task. So if you find the assignment depressing, complete it first so that the rest of the day goes on flawlessly.
Schedule important work calls early in the morning if they make you feel uncomfortable. When you finish it, take a thick marker and cross out the planner’s hated task, so you know it's done and feel incredible relief.
Delegate your tasks
It's time to forget the rule, "You want the job done well, you do it yourself." Of course, this is an excellent option for people around you, but not for you. If you see you're overloaded with tasks, and some of them you can transfer to others, don't hesitate!/p>
A recent study has shown effective delegation reduces workplace stress and motivates you to perform your best. It gives you more time to finish your assignments properly and helps save some time for activities you enjoy, be it reading time or a small home party with your friends.
How you can do it?
That may be difficult to start delegating when you’re not used to it, so start small. Firstly, refuse to help other people when you still have urgent assignments to complete. Then start delegating easy tasks like making a few document copies or sorting the working files to your office manager.
You can also delegate your home tasks — ask your partner to clean up when you’re entirely drained or order a healthy takeaway dinner when you don’t have time to cook. That will not only save you time but also make you less stressed and anxious.
There's a common belief that if you're doing just one task at a time, then you're weak and counterproductive. Although, multitasking is dreadful for your energy and productivity level. Neuroscientific research has proven multitasking makes you 40% less productive, slowing your workflow and making you less concentrated.
Task juggling reduces your work performance and creates an anxiety backlog due to the unfinished ongoing tasks. Thus, try to complete your daily goals consequently — step by step. This approach will increase your focus and assist you in showing better results.
How you can do it?
If you're used to doing multiple tasks simultaneously, you may find it hard to change this habit. But we’ve got you covered with a few tips on how you can avoid multitasking. If you’re listening to some podcasts when working, turn down the sound volume so you won’t be so distracted by the information it offers.
And if you’re answering tons of messages and get soaked in social media while managing work issues, try to turn off the notifications. You can answer them later when your brain won’t need a strong focus.
Use planning tools
Remember, you don’t need to keep every task and duty in your memory since there are numerous time management and planning tools to do it for you. Such free planning apps like Trello, Asana, or Notion are perfect for storing all your tasks with descriptions, attached files, and other crucial details.
You can adjust them to a maximum comfort extent: for instance, if you want to get notifications about further tasks, turn them on. Track each goal’s progress, share your plans with other people, and keep your routines in one place to not forget anything urgent. Such tools can make your life much easier. By getting all plans listed, you create a step-by-step guide for your duties and routines so that you’re in complete control of your whole life.
How you can do it?
If you want to make the most out of planning tools, choose one and stick to it. By using numerous planning apps, you can easily get messed up and less productive. So try various tools, test their features, and decide which one suits you best.
If you haven’t used planning apps previously, you can begin with your smartphone’s/laptop’s system reminder app (like Apple Reminders or Google Calendar) or use simple apps like Microsoft Todoist. After that, enter all your tasks and goals, begin tracking them, mark completed assignments and feel how the productivity fills you to the brim!
- How Many Productive Hours in a Work Day? Just 2 Hours, 23 Minutes… (2021)
- Making Time Management The Organization’s Priority (2013)
- Psychology of Procrastination: Why People Put Off Important Tasks Until the Last Minute (2010)
- Procrastination's Impact in the Workplace and the Workplace's Impact on Procrastination (2013)
- Perfectionism Dimensions And Research Productivity In Psychology Professors: Implications For Understanding The (Mal)adaptiveness Of Perfectionism (2010)
- Effective Time Management On Employee Performance Of Northern Nigeria Noodle Company LTD (2020)
- Stressful Jobs Reader Survey (2017)
- A Closer Look at Life Goals Across Adulthood: Applying a Developmental Perspective to Content, Dynamics, and Outcomes of Goal Importance and Goal Attainability (2019)
- The Ivy Lee Method: The Daily Routine Experts Recommend for Peak Productivity (2020)
- Eat That Frog: Brian Tracy Explains The Truth About Frogs (2021)
- Effective Delegation and Its Impact on Employee Performance (2020)
- Is Multi-Tasking Bad For Your Brain? Experts Reveal The Hidden Perils Of Juggling Too Many Jobs (2009)
- Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin: The Impact of Task Juggling on Workers' Speed of Job Completion (2010)