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Productivity

How to Effectively Get Your Work Tasks Done

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How to Effectively Get Your Work Tasks Done

When working with people, getting actual work done can be a task. Not everyone works on the same wavelength. Coordinating the work if you are a more efficient person than your peers, colleagues, employees can be frustrating. Phone calls at work, replying to emails, meetings are some of the things, though required waste a lot of time.

It is important to find workarounds and methods that will help you keep your sanity. Trust me, sometimes all you need, to relax in your routine, is to make a simple change. Some of the things that I am going to talk about has completely changed my life in terms of saving time and increasing efficiency.

So, the most insignificant tasks or the tasks that no one looks forward to, that pressurize us daily and make endless demands on our time are briefings, meetings, phone calls, emails. Meetings are believed to be the biggest collective waste of time by many people.

Let me show you some quotes about meetings from people who know what they are talking about.

“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”

– James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”

– Thomas Sowell, American Writer and Economist

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.””

– Dave Barry, American Writer and Humorist

“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”

– John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian Writer and Economist

Although our focus isn’t just meetings today, I just wanted to share my bit on the discussion with you. Here are some ways you can save time doing the mundane but necessary parts of your job/work.

How to Effectively Get Your Work Tasks Done

Start out by creating lists. Make a list of all the meetings, briefings, discussions, you might have to be a part of. May it be for the day or the mandatory weekly, monthly ones. Lists help you get a clear perspective of your work. Note down what all will be needed for every meeting. If there is a scheduled phone call you need to make with a client, note down the particulars for it as well.

When making your list, eliminate anything that will hinder with your productivity. If there are too many meetings in a day, try to put them down for later in the week. More than one meeting in a day mean you won’t be able to get a lot of work done. You also need to know what times work the best for the tasks you have to do.

For example, some people find replying to emails in the morning better, while some people do it in the middle of the day. Find out what parts of the day are high-energy times for you. This will help you plan better, and also give you a designated time to complete certain tasks.

Let’s talk about the three main concerns here-

Emails –

  • Even if you are not going to reply to your emails now, sorting them can be a great idea. Take a look at your inbox every morning and then quickly categorize each email. Create labels like now, future, urgent, etc. Trash the not useful emails immediately. Whenever you go to reply to your emails, you will have your work cut out for you.
  • When your employees send you emails, tell them to tell you the subject matter in a concise form. A quick look at the email should suffice to tell what the email is about. Do the same when you send emails to your employees.
  • Use bullet points to communicate in emails with your employees, instead of paragraphs. This ensures only important information being passed, and the employees will start to follow the same soon.

Calls –

  • Before making a phone call or returning a call, write down the objective of the call on a post-it or a piece of paper and keep it in front of you. Use bullet points for ease of use, and you can also put in a check next to each point as you cover it.
  • Writing down the objectives helps you cut the discussion time by not having to think about what next was to be discussed. It gives you a clear purpose, and ensures effective communication.
How to Effectively Get Your Work Tasks Done

Meetings –

  • Prepare a written agenda for every meeting. Like the phone calls, having a clear list to follow stops you from straying from the subject.
  • If the meeting is based on going over some reports, plan, or written documents. Have the document sent to the people, who would be attending the meeting, prior to the said meeting. This gives everyone time to go over the material and form questions and opinions. This saves a lot of time in the meeting. All you have to do is discuss the points everyone came up with, and wrap up the meeting.
  • Only the people really needed in the meeting should be in the meeting. Try cutting down the number to only the crucial people to that meeting.

Apart from these things, keeping your environment decluttered is really important to make it easier to find things as well as have a space you feel like working in. Make it clear to your colleagues that you are not up for a chat while working. Wear earplugs or headphones when working to drown the noise out. Honestly, all changes needed are really simple and small to make your current situation more workable.

All these things might seem small, and might seem like not a lot of time is saved, but trust me, it adds up. Also, this isn’t only about saving time, it is also about increasing productivity. These things can easily take a toll on one’s mental health. It can also sap your energy for the rest of the day. Which is why it is always advised to not spend much time on secondary tasks.

Automate or plan on making these tasks as quick as you can. You will see the difference soon enough!

Mindfulness

5 Tips to Increase Your Focus

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5 Tips to Increase Your Focus

Low attention span or difficulty in focusing is becoming a common problem for many. With so many entertainment options readily available, it has become easy to be distracted and to procrastinate. Our work takes the hit and that, in turn, makes us feel bad. Instead of dismissing your lack of focus as something you have to deal with, learn to increase it.

Like our body, our mind needs exercise too. The areas we consider to be weak can be built up if we put our mind to it. Just because our focus isn’t as strong as we would like it to be, doesn’t mean you have to accept the fact and do nothing about it. Try to better it. There are things, practices, and exercises that if done regularly, can help you increase your focus.

1. Meditate

5 Tips to Increase Your Focus

If you didn’t know, meditation has different types that focus on different areas. Mindfulness meditation can help you boost your attention span significantly. Not only that, meditation in itself can help you relax, and become calm and collected. Now, that your mind has relaxed and is free of a thought jumble, it becomes easier to focus on things that actually matter.

Meditation for just 10 to 20 minutes a day will help you increase your focus and attention span. Start your mornings by focusing on your breathing for a few minutes, followed by your meditation ritual. You can also do some light breathing exercise just before doing something that requires focus to clear your mind.

2. Include practicing mindfulness in your day

5 Tips to Increase Your Focus

While mindfulness meditation helps you become more aware and helps increase your focus. Practicing mindfulness throughout your day will help you fight distractions and focus on the tasks at hand. Mindfulness simply is being very attentive to every aspect of the task you are doing, and also noticing every small detail about your task.

It can seem like it isn’t easy, but it is. What I do is that I imagine I am writing about whatever I am doing – not informative writing but descriptive. So, suppose I am eating my lunch, I will pay attention to the cutlery, the color of my food, the smell, the taste, the texture of each ingredient. I will focus on chewing and swallowing, on the feeling it gives rise to.

What we usually do is that we focus on distractions while eating, and our primary task somehow becomes secondary. Our focus shifts towards our phones or the shows we are watching. This is what happens with many of our tasks.

3.  Don’t listen to music while working

5 Tips to Increase Your Focus

Many of us have the habit of listening to music while working on something. While it helps people most of the times and can be a good thing, it does the opposite for people with poor focus. If you know the song, then you are most probably going to sing along, and that stops you from giving your all to the task at hand.

Let’s say you are doing something that is going to be using the same parts of your brain, then will doing those things together make sense? No, right? When you are doing something that uses motor functions like your household chores, then listening to music is fine, but not while reading if you don’t have a high focus level.

4. Build your willpower

Willpower will allow you to ignore distractions like playing songs or using your phone and will help you to stay focused on the task at hand. Consciously saying no to yourself whenever you feel like doing something else is very important and a skill that you should definitely develop if you want to increase your focus level.

Your attention span will be served well with intentionally trying to focus and also having strong willpower isn’t only good for building your focus but also for being productive. At the end of the day, what you do or do not do boils down to your willpower, saying no to distractions depends entirely on your willpower.

5. Increase your focus gradually

5 Tips to Increase Your Focus

Like any habit, you need to start slow. Like when starting exercise, you are advised to start slow because your body might not be able to take it, the same goes for anything mental. The best way to stay focused is for you to start using the Pomodoro technique. This lets you start working in bouts so that you can start with a short amount of focusing time.

You traditionally work for 25 minutes and then take a five minutes break. After you have repeated this four times, you can take a longer break. Because you know that you have to work for only 25 minutes, it becomes easier to focus. This is a great way to start out.

Takeaway

All it boils down to is will power and persistence. If you are really dedicated to increasing your focus, then you will find it easier to do things to help. I would say, convincing yourself is the hardest part, so start out by taking small steps. Don’t decide to start being completely focused for the whole day, that isn’t going to happen. Use these tips to slowly but gradually increase your focus.

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Productivity

7 Easy Productivity Hacks to Make More of Your Day

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7 Easy Productivity Hacks to Make More of Your Day

A lot of people still believe that by trying hard and pushing their limits, they will be able to get more work done in the day. This is not true. By using all your willpower to get more done, you will feel jaded at the end of the day. Willpower is a limited resource. If you go by your day without learning many tried and tested methods to increase productivity, your body and mind will eventually break down.

According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity in American workers has been decreasing at a steady rate since 1973. The 2007-2018 decade has seen some of the lowest levels of productivity. This is a worrying fact.

Here are 7 easy productivity hacks to make more of your day.

1. Follow a morning routine

7 Easy Productivity Hacks to Make More of Your Day

Starting your day with a preset routine gets you into work mode right away. Morning is not a time to think and ponder. Get out of the bed as fast as possible and begin your morning routine. I know some people like to plan their day in the morning, but I feel that it puts you into a contemplative mood. It is something you want to avoid getting into. Especially, if you want to take massive action.

The best time to plan your day is the night before. A morning routine should consist of things like working out in the gym, a quick meditation session, a morning walk, filling up your gratitude journal, etc. A morning routine is a productivity hack that indirectly affects the quality and quantity of the work you do through the day. Hence, it is regularly practiced by productive people.

2. Keep your phone away during work hours

7 Easy Productivity Hacks to Make More of Your Day

Productivity in human beings has always suffered due to many distractions. Even before the advent of smartphones, there were distractions like emails and phone calls. But they were quite manageable and the degree of damage wasn’t that severe.  

In today’s world, smartphones are the major cause of lack of productivity. It’s impossible to get good quality work done with a smartphone beside you. A study done by the University of London identified the link between smartphone overuse and loss of productivity. They concluded that constant checking of smartphone for new notifications is hurting the level of productivity in the workplace and at home.

3. Batch your work   

It takes a lot of time and effort to switch from one type of task to others. Human beings are creatures of habit and we like to cut effort wherever possible. Batching minimizes the effort and energy wasted in task-switching. This productivity hack has been implemented in all kinds of industries. Moreover, it also increases your concentration as you have fewer things to think about.

4. Plan ahead

Planning is a lot more than creating a to-do list or an action plan. To plan and do all the things in a day, you need to first brainstorm ideas and also have a clear vision of what you want. As I already said, these things should be done a day before so that you are in work-mode at the time of execution. Day planning is different than project planning. Factors like your energy levels, possible distractions, and your surrounding environment should come into consideration before writing an action plan for the day.

5. Use technology to boost productivity

Productivity apps like ToDoist and Toggl are helping freelancers and entrepreneurs to become more aware of how they are spending their working time. These apps can change your perspective on work in a matter of weeks. I use an app called Trello to organize and rank my tasks with the help of boards, lists, and cards.

6. Learn to say “no”

Are you one of those people who say “yes” to every request that you get from other people? You feel guilty when you stand up for yourself and put your own interest on the line. You are brought up the self-critical parent who have drilled into you that you need to be good at everything in life and that you are a bad person if you fail to do so.

If this sounds and feels like you, you need to learn to say “no”. Once you understand how saying “yes” to everything is keeping you occupied in mundane tasks which you shouldn’t be doing, you will learn to say “no”. Saying “no” is a modern day productivity hack that every one of us should learn first-hand.

7. Listen to music

7 Easy Productivity Hacks to Make More of Your Day

A Canadian study says that listening to music while working puts you in a positive mood and, as a result, increases work quality. The quality-of-work was lowest when the participants of this study performed the task assigned to them without listening to music. With all this research proving music to be a productivity hack, it is imperative for you to listen to non-lyrical music while doing your work.

In conclusion

It’s great to keep all the above-mentioned productivity hacks in your repertoire. But you should also put them to use as soon as possible. For most people, starting a project is the hardest part. They spend days thinking about things that can go wrong or why it won’t work. By starting early and failing fast, you will always be miles ahead of your competitors.

Resources

“Smartphone addiction, daily interruptions and self-reported … – NCBI.” Accessed June 7, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29450241.

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Productivity

Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

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Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

Time tracking apps are a must for freelancers and remote workers. They log your activities and generate a report at the end of the day. This report can be used to evaluate your own performance and keep a tab on your habits.

It should be noted that time tracking apps are equally beneficial for both, the employee and the employer. They solve the biggest problem faced by freelancers. That is, getting paid fairly and on time. Freelancers can send the employees screenshots of their work so that they are aware of how much work is done.

Here are the 5 top time tracker apps for cost-effective timekeeping. Install your favorite app on all your devices and become aware of your own work habits.

1. Toggl

Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

Toggl is a time tracking app that increases the productivity of people working in a team. It is one of the simplest and easy to use apps for Android and iOS. Moreover, it also has an interesting feature; it pings you every time you lose focus or slow down during work. This app is for people who take their work seriously. So, check out the free version to experience its benefits first hand.

2. TopTracker

Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

TopTracker is completely free time tracking app by Toptal LLC. It is available for both Android and iOS devices. The main feature of TopTracker is to take timed screenshots and invoice processing for freelancers and project managers. In short, it helps employers and manager to keep an eye on the activities of their team. Moreover, TopTracker works on any device. Be it a phone or a tablet or a laptop. And they have also provided hotkeys to let you manage your time tracker in an effortless way.

3. TMetric

Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

TMetric is one of the time tracker apps developed and maintained by Devart– a software company developing such applications for the last 20 years. TMetric proudly claims to help you save more than 66 hours per year. The app cuts down your time wasted in creating work logs and time reports. And every employee knows how painstaking it is to fill up those work reports. Another powerful feature of TMetric is that it integrates with other commonly used work apps like Trello, Google Drive, GitHub, Salesforce, etc.

4. RescueTime

Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

RescueTime is one of those time tracker apps that every freelancer or remote worker should have on their computer. As a freelancer, it can be very difficult for you to track your own activities while working. Sometimes we get caught up in things that provide little or no value to us. It’s important to work on things that yield maximum results. RescueTime works silently on your computer and tracks everything you.. For instance, it sends you reports of what websites or apps you used throughout the day. This is one of my favorite time tracking apps and the one I personally use.

5. HourStack

Top Time Tracking Apps For Cost-Efficient Timekeeping

HourStack is a time tracking, time planning and time reporting app for Android and iOS devices. You can use this app for free and decide whether it fulfills your needs. HourStack has three plans: Personal, Professional and Enterprise.

Transparency is very important in modern work culture. Both employer and employee seek transparency in workflow and company policies. HourStack helps organizations achieve this by providing a dashboard where every team member can mention his/her tasks– already done and to be done. So, once a team member logs in, they can see the activity of the entire team. This keeps everyone on the same page and prevents time from being wasted in rudimentary things.

These apps may not be right for people who work in an office space provided by the company. An office worker has to commute and show up at work every single work day. So they need their freedom as well. But remote workers need to be managed differently. They need a chip on the shoulder that will keep them on track while they work.

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