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3 Tips for Increasing Your Productivity at Work
In today’s fast paced world of smart phones, electronic libraries, and social media, we have more access to new and relevant information than we’ve had at any other time in history. The entire Library of Congress can fit on a single computer. We can Skype (free-of-charge) with our friends in Japan at a moment’s notice. We are fast approaching the mass production of autonomous vehicles able to take us wherever we want at the push of a button.
With all this technology, we should be ten times more productive than we’ve ever been in the past. But something is off. Something is lacking. Sometimes we’re not even as productive as we’ve been in the past. Why is this? The answer may not be how technology has adapted to us, but rather how we have (or haven’t) adapted with technology. So, with all this technology available to us, how can we improve the way we manage large projects and efficiently utilize the time in our work day to achieve success?
In the design and construction field, one of the most efficient ways to manage large projects is to analyze the tasks and schedule using the Critical Path Method. This method is a project management technique that first defines critical and non-critical tasks. It then establishes the relationships between the tasks and applies a timeline to them. The benefit to this method is the ability to define the necessary sequence of tasks, set a schedule for completing them, analyze where time can be saved, and prepare for the goals ahead.
We can apply this same project delivery technique to our personal lives to better identify our own goals and efficiently reach them on schedule. Here are three tips to do so:
1) Tackle the Critical Tasks First
Research shows 2.5 to 4 hours after waking is when your brain is the sharpest. You’re also more disciplined in the morning. Therefore, this is the best time to tackle the critical or creative/challenging tasks, because your energy is high. As author and coach, Dan John says, “If you have to eat a plate of frogs, start with the biggest one first.”
2) Take Care of Secondary Tasks
If you accomplish your critical task in the morning, it gives you the afternoon to work on secondary tasks that are not critical, but are still necessary to work toward the goal. These tasks include answering e-mail, holding staff meetings, and making phone calls. Furthermore, by saving your emails until the afternoon, you also save yourself the time lost from interruptions. For every interruption you face, it takes 20 minutes on average to get fully back on task. So break up your time spent texting, writing, and responding to e-mails into set blocks that work best with your schedule.
3) Re-Evaluate and Prepare
At the end of the day, evaluate the tasks you accomplished and the ones ahead. Analyze and set your schedule for tomorrow so you can jump right into the next critical task first thing, using maximum brainpower. Save the little tasks to prepare for tomorrow – like organizing your desk and tidying up – for this last portion of your day. The more you plan for the next morning, the more productive you’ll be.
The best part of a good day’s work is the reward of a relaxing evening. So go home, take your shoes off, make yourself a healthy dinner, and get some quality sleep. Just like your smart phone that’s drained from responding to all those emails, you have to recharge too!Print Email