Have you ever felt like you are discontent with your job performance? Most of us have. And what do we do about it? The most obvious thing to do here is to push yourself harder. And harder. And then a little harder. Does that do any good, though?
It may seem so in the beginning, but the further we push ourselves, the more accustomed we get to all the stress, and the closer we are to the point of burning out. That’s clearly not what you should aim for.
So, what to do? Well, as suggested by efficiency gurus like the late Steve Jobs, what matters most is not how much time and effort you put into your job, but rather how much rational thought you put into it; quality over quantity.
Here are 4 ways to have a super productive day:
1. Prepare beforehand
Before starting your working day, it is best if you do all the preparations beforehand. This will spare you the time and effort of making decisions. Once you wake up, you need to be all set and ready to go, and not waste your precious time on what to wear or what to have for breakfast.
As you understand, clothes and food are just a few examples of decisions that you can make beforehand to save you some time. Be advised to plan as much as you can up to a week’s time ahead. Planning may seem to some as a waste of time, but rest assured that it will only take you 30 minutes to an hour tops to plan the entire week.
As a bonus, having your plans written down and following them will contribute to your feeling of control and confidence, and who doesn’t like that?
“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” – Joyce Brothers
2. Stick to your to do list
The easiest way to practically apply your planning is to create a to-do list, we know. However, we get carried away and split it into several others, thus multiplying entities beyond necessity. Some may have several to do lists with activities categorized topically. Others create different to do lists for different days of the week, confusing the concept of a to-do list with a timetable.
What you should do is cut it all off with that Ockham’s razor, and leave only one master list of activities that need to be done. This will help you stay focused and avoid confusion. If something needs to be done, you put it on the list, no need to complicate it.
That said, the list should be flexible. You must have the opportunity to update it, should a new task arise or some new circumstances occur.
Given what’s said above, it is not recommended to just pile up all the things that need to be done in a random shapeless list. It is useful to sort your tasks by priority. The ABCDE principle can be applied. Here is how it works:
- A is for the top level tasks which you need to accomplish to avoid some dire consequences.
- B is for other important tasks which need to be done to avoid some of the less drastic consequences.
- C is for the tasks which it would be nice to have done, but they can be put off a bit without loss.
- D is for the tasks that can be delegated to others.
- E is the final group of tasks that are eliminated. These are the things that you don’t do at all.
Once you’ve grouped all your tasks according to this principle, you look up your list at the beginning of your working day and start with the A tasks. You don’t proceed to any of the B tasks until you are done with all of the A tasks, and you don’t get started with a C task before all the B tasks are ready. If you follow these guidelines, you will see how your performance rate boosts.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
4. Eat well
Since we were kids, our parents kept nagging us about the importance of a balanced breakfast. If your parents were good at it, you probably never noticed the positive effect that it has on your performance, and took it for granted.
In our adulthood, we often overlook it and prefer to sleep a few extra minutes, instead of having a decent breakfast. While sleep is important, your food is literally the fuel on which your body runs. A healthy breakfast does not need to be fancy. It can be as simple as a ham sandwich with tomatoes.
Just don’t expect your organism to run well on just a cup of coffee or even two cups. By having a good breakfast, you help your body and mind to jump straight into work at the very beginning of the day.