Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
A simplified work day is much more effective. It’s the law of productivity – the more focused you are, the more you will accomplish important projects.
The hard part is simplifying your life so you do get those important projects completed.
“‘Think simple,’ as my old master used to say – meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.”
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Let’s look at 10 techniques I use to simplify my work day:
1. Clear away clutter
When you have a big project that you need to focus on, the quickest way to get focused is to clear away the junk around you. There may be papers, mugs, notes, browser tabs open, and many other useless distractions. Clear all this away. Anything you don’t need, get it out of your line of sight.
2. Use the Pomodoro Technique.
One of my favorite ways to stay focused on one task and not let my mind wander is the Pomodoro Technique.
Here are the basics:
1. Work for 25 minutes.
2. Take a 5 minute break.
4. After 2 hours take a longer break. (15-30 minutes)
Using a timer is a must. The idea is to focus your thoughts. If you only have 25 minutes to get a task done, you have to be focused.
3. Create a short list
Write out a short list of the things you need to do. I suggest no more than five things. The longer the list, the more likely you will procrastinate.
4. Give in early
Some days we just don’t have the Zen mojo, so don’t be afraid to put your work aside and enjoy some time relaxing with family or by yourself.
I don’t know anyone who can do two projects at the same time, at least not very well. Try single-tasking throughout a whole day; don’t be tempted to move to that next task until you are finished.
6. Say “no”
Too often we are interrupted by a co-worker, boss, or friend who needs our help. I understand your desire to help them, but there must be limits. Tell them “no” as gently as you can. Explain that you need to finish what you are doing and only after you are done can you help them.
7. Start your day with a cup of tea
You must set the tone for a simplified day. I like to do a simple tea meditation. When I feel a little frazzled, I boil some water, pour it over my organic green tea and do nothing except enjoy that cup of tea for fifteen minutes. It helps set my mood and I’m ready to take on the day.
8. Don’t check your email (at all)
Email the biggest time suck ever created. Facebook and Twitter are catching up fast, but they are not quite there yet, at least for me. It’s so tempting because our email often makes us laugh and helps us connect with friends, it’s just oh so tempting. Don’t give in. Do not check your email at all. If you must check your email, wait until the end of the day. Notice how much you get accomplished.
9. Limit your goals
Goals are so tempting because they are an extension of your dreams. You want to accomplish more and test your limits, but sometimes your goals can hinder you. If you have too many goals, you lose confidence. So set your limit at a more reasonable level so you can improve your confidence and happiness.
10. Repeat the same phrase every day
I’ve been repeating the same phrase at the end of each day to help me relax at the end of the day. Instead of worrying about what I didn’t accomplish, I repeat “Today I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.” I do this 5 times and then I think about my accomplishments. I actually list one accomplishment after each time I repeat the phrase. It’s a great way to end my day.
How about You
What do you do to simplify your day to make it more productive.
* Need a boost to your work happiness? Then check out the Happy at Work Project and start one yourself.
* Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt just put out a really cool guide called Unautomate Your Finances. I haven’t read it, but after reading Adam’s blog then meeting him at SXSW. I know it will be good.
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Image courtesy of jinkazamah