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Busting the Myth of Multitasking
How to become more productive at work without burning out
Do you feel like you’re constantly busy at work? Do you spend all day completing tasks but still leave the office feeling that you haven’t accomplished anything? As Tony Robbins says, “Most people mistake movement for achievement.”
Instead of being obsessed with filling your calendar with activities, you must begin focusing on your desired outcomes at work and going after those goals in an effective, productive way. Adapt these dynamic solutions into your everyday routine, and you’ll accomplish more in the office and feel more fulfilled in your career.
Focus on what’s important
How many times each day are you interrupted at work? Some of these interruptions come from your own boredom — that’s why you’re browsing the Internet and checking your social media accounts. But there are other distractions that you have less control over, like responding to emails and attending meetings. One way to combat the seemingly endless stream of distractions you face at work is to focus each morning on what you can achieve that day. You can calculate your productivity by writing out what you did the previous day with an estimate on how long the task took. Include everything from when you woke up, what you did at work (including any distraction breaks) and what you did after work. This will give you a clear picture regarding what your day typically looks like. Look for items that carry into the next day, as well as any surprise items someone else asked you to do.
Once you realize which tasks needs to be done, think about why they need to be worked on, or what purpose they have in the overall scheme of things. You want to move ahead at your company. You also know you have a big presentation for a client coming up. What’s the outcome of delivering a great presentation? You’ll show your boss you are an ambitious, knowledgeable team member, and you’ll potentially win over a new client, which could ultimately lead to a promotion.
Then, cut down on the distractions you have control over. If you know you need to spend an hour working on your presentation, then you can’t spend 30 minutes browsing Facebook. Thinking about what drives your work will enable you to feel more focused on the things you need to accomplish.
Use effective time management solutions
There are productivity tools and resources that will enable you to become a master of your schedule. Chunking is one effective method that can help you improve productivity. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the many tasks currently on your agenda, look at your schedule and see which items can be grouped together based on similar desired outcomes. Group together the items that will yield similar results. By sorting your activities into more actionable items, you minimize the length of your to-do list and makes the day ahead feel less overwhelming.
For instance, if you know you have to draft and respond to multiple emails to your colleagues and also set up a meeting with your manager via Outlook, chunk these items together. If there are things you need to handle after work, like picking up your dry cleaning, going to the grocery store, feeding your kids dinner and getting some exercise in, see if there’s a way you can put tasks together. Can you pick up a ready-to-eat dinner at the store while you get your groceries? Can you ride your bike to the dry cleaner in order to achieve your fitness goals? Categorizing tasks based on outcome and dealing with them all at once will make you feel more organized and help improve productivity.
Know when to say “no”
The most successful people in the world aren’t the ones who try to take on everything — they’re masters of time management who know what they should be investing their time in. You want to be viewed as helpful and productive at work, so you often say “Yes” to whatever’s asked of you. But over time, you’ll find you have too much on your plate. This creates stress and takes your focus away from the things you could be working on. Learn how to say “No” when a task doesn’t fit into your schedule.
Additionally, identify tasks that are necessary but aren’t helping you grow. Can you delegate these tasks to someone else at the office? By taking control of your time and dedicating it to essential items, you’ll learn how to cultivate productivity.
Build better habits
Lastly, it’s important to identify bad habits and work to build positive ones. If you know that you work better in the evenings, sleep longer in the mornings and stay at the office longer at night. Do you find that your brain functions better after exercising? Set your alarm early and hit the gym before heading into work. When you know what it takes for you to feel fulfilled and productive at work, try to cultivate the habits that allow you to feel that way. Identify the activities that make you feel powerful and productive, and allow yourself to do them as often as possible. Part of building good habits also includes taking breaks when needed. As much as you’d like to stay at the office all day, you can’t effectively work without regularly resting and recharging.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work and stressed out by the sheer number of tasks on your plate, it’s time for a change. You can start by asking yourself the following question.
“How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I’m committed to?” – Tony Robbins
Then, assess which habits enable you to increase your output while not overloading your schedule and keep working toward your goals.