10 Ways To Get More Done In Less Time
(This article was originally published on Style Tomes, Lerna CEO’s personal blog, as part of the productivity series.)
I’m not quite sure if I necessarily want to get more done since I’m always craving a break, but I’ve been crossing a lot of things off my list lately. My mentality is always to do as many things as possible ahead of time so I don’t have to scramble with last minute tasks.
Now, there will always be things that pop up that you can’t anticipate, but for the most part, you can take care of a good portion of your work with the right system. I want to give some quick-fire tips, some of which you can incorporate right away to become more productive.
In the interest of this article’s name, I’m going to stop wasting your time now and get to it!
Stop Multitasking to Start Being Productive
One thing leads to another, and suddenly you’re not writing your blog post but you’re somehow browsing Pinterest and scheduling your pins for next week. It’s really easy to get sucked into doing random things. Just today I noticed that my train of thought somehow led me to restructure some links on my site when all I was looking to do was create a to-do list for the week! Yes, my to-do list item suddenly became my to-do.
Usually, you’ll end up doing the multi-tasking time suck when you’re researching for an article. The research can lead you to fun and exciting places like Facebook and YouTube. All of a sudden, you’re watching a lot more videos than you thought you would and you’re interacting on your feed. Totally not something you should be doing if you’re looking to simply write. So, stop multitasking. Use batching (I go into it more in a later point) to separate out your tasks and ensure you’re not spending energy needlessly.
Ok, this might seem obvious, but that’s not what I mean. When you procrastinate, you lose time because you have to refresh your brain for the task you started doing. Let’s say you open up an e-mail, and decide not to respond at the moment but put it off until later. This means, later on when you actually get to that e-mail (or not) you have to re-read it while you address all the points in it.
When it comes to small, almost mindless, tasks, do them right away or don’t start them at all. It will save you more time in the long run.
Quit Being a Perfectionist
The more you obsess over how perfect something must be, the longer it will take you to actually complete that task. I’ve met so many brilliant bloggers who could do some great things if only they just..did..those..things… There’s always something in the way and something that will need to be fixed. What you see as a problem might never be noticed by someone else. So, whether you have a book to publish, course to launch or a new website design, just do it! The more you sit and think about it, the less likely it will get done.
Evaluate All Your Tasks
List out all your projects and daily tasks. This requires a bit of time up front, but it allows you to completely streamline your week ahead. Personally, I started using Asana to organize my tasks. I find the interface easy to use and I have access to it anywhere since it’s also an app. Once you write everything down, you will get a visual of how much recurring work there is vs. one time tasks and projects. AKA, this is where optimization begins and you don’t have to think about what to do next!
Batch All Your Tasks
You’re basically grouping all similar tasks into one day and doing them all at once. For example, Mondays are shoot days where you shoot all social media and blog content. Tuesdays are graphics and editing days. Wednesdays are writing days. You get the idea.
Plan Out Your Month Ahead
This goes hand in hand with batching, which is individualized for the days. Once you have your days organized and recurring tasks mapped to your schedule, you can better allocate your time to any special projects or work you’ve been meaning to get to. Once again, your month goes on auto-pilot mode.
I use both Asana.com and CoSchedule to plan out my projects and my blog posts + social media respectively.
Create a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for your tasks
I used to make a LOT of these when I worked in IT. I overlapped a lot with project management tasks and overseeing the helpdesk. It was important to optimize operations and make sure that the procedures for doing tasks and solving problems are standardized. Basically, any new hire would be able to pick up the procedure and do the tasks with the step by step checklist.
Your standards tasks that you do on an every day or on a weekly basis should all have a step-by-step checklist. This will make you more organized so you don’t waste time in between steps, and if you ever decide to outsource, you can simply hand over the knowledge article without going through a big onboarding process.
Short Tasks Need To Get Done on The Spot
If you have a task in front of you that will take you a few minutes, then do it instead of saving it for later. It’ll take you longer to re-open it and go through it than to just complete it on the spot.
I am addicted to this tool! Ok, so this is where you gather all statistics on how you’re actually spending your time on your computer. The program evaluates how much time you spend on productive tasks vs the time wasters. It also tracks how long certain tasks take!
One of my recurring tasks is organically engaging with my followers on Instagram. I do a lot of the commenting on my computer, so rescuetime.com tracked the hours. Turns out I spend nearly 2 hours a day on the task! If my work day is 8 hours, I now know that I have about 6 hours left to allocate to other tasks. You can do this with most of your blog activities to optimize your time!
Work Hard with Play In Between
I’ve used the method I’m about to describe with a lot of success in the past. Basically, you work for 25 minutes, and take a 5 minute break. Do this 4 times and then take a 15 minute break before restarting the flow! I have a little timer for this Pomodoro method on my laptop, but you can time yourself with your phone or an app. In the intense 25 minute work time, you can’t do anything but focus on the task at hand.