fbpx
Connect with us

Productivity

How to Use Your Calendar to Increase Productivity and Achieve Big Goals

Published

on

How to Use Your Calendar to Increase Productivity and Achieve Big Goals

Are you tired of not accomplishing your goals or being unproductive at work?  Are you tired of finishing things at the last minute for every project you have? You might have tried many systems and they just do not seem to work. 

You may have noticed your peers excelling and getting things done although they have the same amount of hours as you do in a day. Fortunately, there is a great system which may help improve your productivity.

One of the primary reasons why individuals are not productive is because they are constantly interrupted or feel overwhelmed by the goal/task they need to accomplish. The feeling of being overwhelmed causes projects to be postponed until right before the final due date. To avoid this feeling, you must try and break the project into multiple sub-tasks. For example, if you need to repair a fence in your backyard, this can be broken up into the following tasks:

  1. Buy materials for fence repair
  2. Remove damaged fence parts
  3. Replace fence parts
  4. Paint fence

The overall project should be broken down into mini-tasks to make this more manageable. Although this process will make a project less overwhelming, it still misses another important point, which is getting interrupted by other higher-priority tasks. Therefore, it is important to write these down on a paper or on your phone or computer.  

Many productivity specialists say that writing down your goals will make it more likely that you will accomplish them. I have written down goals before and failed to accomplish anything. At work, I was behind on projects and getting interrupted constantly – it happens sometimes.

After much investigation, I realized that I was missing a core element and that was a reminder system.  I could write down my goals and put them on my computer but if I did not review them, the lists would be useless. 

Fortunately, the solution to this problem was at my fingertips. I decided to take these lists and add them to my calendar on my phone. I would dedicate at least a 30-minute block to the tasks I wanted to do and set a reminder time at least 5 minutes before the task. Start your day doing this and block off all the hours in your day on your phone’s calendar. If you get interrupted, you can simply move tasks to other time blocks.

You can also combine it with the Pomodoro technique to increase your productivity along with your accountability that will come with setting up the reminder.

Why does this work? 

How to Use Your Calendar to Increase Productivity and Achieve Big Goals

This works because you are telling your mind that you need to work on a task during this time period.  The reminder from your phone/computer reinforces this and allows you to focus. Paper-based systems failed for me because I did not review the tasks I had written down. As soon as a higher-priority task came up, I did not accomplish what I wrote down. Instead of relying on myself to do a “review”, the phone’s calendar does it for me.

It also gives me a sense of accountability, because I know that I am supposed to do the said things in the determined time block or else everything else will also suffer. It works like a pang of mini guilt for me. It also gives you deadlines to complete your work, nothing works better at making you feel accountable than a deadline. 

Takeaway:

Breaking down big goals into smaller goals is something that almost all of us know. It is one of the basic steps that anyone mentions when they take about achieving your goals. But, sticking to accomplishing to those smaller goals to achieve the bigger one is where people fail. This is one of the simplest ways to hold yourself up to the completion of the task.

Creating a sense of accountability is very important. When we feel responsible for something, we tend to be more serious about it. Written goals make us accountable and constant reminders keep us on our toes, making us answerable to ourselves.

If you are tired of writing tasks down or wanting to do major projects and not getting anything done, then you may want to try breaking apart major tasks and add these tasks to your phone. You may find yourself accomplishing things you never imagined!

Productivity

The Pressure of this Epidemic: Should we take it Slow or Get your Productivity Game on

Published

on

By

productivity

The race has begun, the race of life doesn’t stop even during quarantine or lockdown. It still continues when an epidemic is on the loose. Students all across were expected to continue working, office resumed productivity, and homemakers had it worse as their routine doubled. 

Opening social media, flooded with images, videos and posts of people baking, drawing, learning a new instrument,  and working out, seems to be filled with energy. You look and you browse and you want to be filled with those emotions as those celebrities, friends, or influencers who seem to have figured a way to keep pushing through this pandemic. You imagine and daydream about a banana bread recipe you should try or that hype around the Dalgona coffee. You feel a sense of distance and anxiety, a fear of missing out. So you try, you try to push yourself, install tik-tok, and practice a common dance routine, decide to post it to establish that you are doing something too, you aren’t just lying around. There is this common unquestioned idea that when you are free and have time on your hand you should continue working, never waste time by just sitting down, or watching a show relaxing. This notion has been instilled and we as individuals are conditioned to feel that if you aren’t doing anything in your free time you are wasting time, not getting ahead in the horse race of this world. But, in lockdown and the current situation is tiring to comprehend. A state of panic and anxiety of the future, the fear of the virus and the death tools, fear of the contention of the world around. In all this, you feel obligated to be motivated and productive. To show that you have some value attributed to yourself even during a lockdown. 

Productivity is often measured by documenting and showcases it to other people. In this day and age where social media has taken over our lives, where everyone posts their lives online to show what they are up to. It helps take your mind off things, keeps you engaged. Not everyone needs to cope with the pandemic the same way, the hustle has been romanticized by capitalist society. Where one has to keep on their toes. So many of us have received links, or advertisements to push us into starting something new. Not many people talk about how it is okay to just not do anything and take it slow. Not realizing that the conventional definition of being busy doesn’t necessarily have to be productive in nature. Our time has become monetized, every passing minute one has to do something, 

When one is taking it slow and not pushing themselves into burning out they too are being productive. This can be said because they are introspective and reflecting upon themselves. Working towards rebuilding by taking it slow, relaxing as the times are tough. Lockdowns make one feel trapped as you have no social contact. One starts to feel the need for validation and added value to themselves. This is obtained by documenting and showing their productivity on social media. The competition to show how busy you are and how you have coped with this pandemic, but in reality, many are struggling. There has been an increase in problems like insomnia, backaches, headaches, feeling nauseated, and eventually leading to burnout. With the increasing fear and uncertainty about our future, there needs to be a period to pause and retrospect. It is completely acceptable to take your time off, as that too is a form of productivity for yourself. The idea that physical work attributes to your productivity levels is a notion that makes one forget about themselves. Taking care of yourself and taking the time off thinking and just take it one day at a time. The pandemic has led to work from home bases for both students and working individuals. Hence with the effect of the pandemic and the working situation, this pressure to be productive is an added factor for them to feel demotivated and isolated further. Apart from that parents and homemakers, have been burning out and need a means to just relax and have time off for themselves away from societal pressure. 

Final Thoughts 

Social media is a great tool to feel connected to this pandemic, but with this, it also brings in the pressure of being at the same level as everyone. One starts to feel “if they can do it so can I”. The energy and exertion both mentally and physically are draining, the constant juggle, and trying to draw a line with your various social groups sitting from home. The pandemic adds extra responsibility, in terms of taking care of your family, friends neighbors thinking about your work, and how to run your home. That is why with these added pressures you can decide for yourself what works best for you, being productive by following daily trends help you relax and cope with the situation then that is great. On the contrary, if you feel drained and are feeling extinguished from the pressure, then it is best to take it slow, relax as thinking, and working on yourself is a form of work too.

Continue Reading

Goals

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Published

on

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Prioritization is the key to achieving your goals. It helps you focus on what is important. While talking about how to prioritize your tasks to help you achieve all your goals, I briefly touched what you should do if everything seems like a priority – 

If you find yourself with more than three top priorities, then that’s a problem. It means you haven’t figured out what tasks are more important. Figure out which ones can wait until later. If all of the tasks are of same nature making them equally important, then that means you need to cut out some tasks, you might have taken on more than you can handle.

Having a laser-like focus on only a handful of things is essential here so that you can have only the tasks that matter the most on your list.

Most of us struggle with this. Prioritizing is not easy if you don’t know how to differentiate actual priority from the task that seems like one. Even if everything on your plate is supposed to be equally important, you will still need to find a way to break down which ones you should be spending your time on.

How we slice up our time and what we dedicate our time to often dictates what direction our life is going to take. The first question one has to get past is whether or not everything really is of equal importance – when you start questioning is when you will start looking for ways to deal with the problem the question possesses.

Dealing with Conflicting Priorities

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

When you are trying to deal with your personal and professional life at the same time, the tasks together can become more daunting. We face multiple demands on our time every day because of that. 

In the professional scene, often the tasks that are urgent override the schedule, resulting in loss of control and inattention to priority tasks. So how should priorities be determined? 

To begin with, ask questions. 

Let’s take an example. Suppose you are in your office. You have a project that needs to be done today. A colleague comes by and asks you to help with something that is also urgent and needs to be done by the afternoon. Now, you didn’t say “no” because that might be rude. You have an urgent task that is not your priority and you have your own project that is a priority but not as urgent as this other task.

Ask questions to yourself – 

  • Is taking this additional work going to affect your workflow?
  • Do you want to do this?
  • Is this stressing you out or causing you anxiety?
  • Are you stretching yourself too thin trying to be helpful?
  • Can this work be done by someone else?

If the answer to even of these questions is “Yes” then we move on to the next part, that is, learning to drop the task because it is not a priority.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

-Stephen Covey

What Do You Do? The Art of Saying “No”

Everyone considers their project to be the most important and wants information or action immediately, they won’t always be considerate of your work. All most people care about is getting their work done. If you have trouble saying “no” chances are that your work will keep suffering. How to deal with this? 

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Even though you feel bad about not being able to help your colleague, it is okay. You have to put your work first. Of course, special circumstances do demand changing your priorities but most often than not saying “no” will immediately put the dilemma to rest.

If multiple people are involved in your project, find out where your piece fits into the overall project. Taking charge of your space and your time will allow you to focus on what is important, meet deadlines and minimize job and personal stress, this starts with learning to say “no.”

Why Writing Down Your Tasks Help

We have a scientific term to explain why writing down goals helps. It is called the generation effect. What it basically means is that you remember information more when you have generated it with your own mind than when you have read it. There’s no one specific answer to why it happens but a lot of studies have been conducted on it, and this phenomenon is used in quite a few things. 

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

You must have heard people say “Goals that are not written down are just wishes.” You can dream or talk about it all you want, but until you write it down on a piece of paper, it remains a half-hearted attempt – nothing more than a wish. 

Another thing and an important one at that, is encoding. Our memory has the ability to encode, store, and recall information. By writing your goals down, you are storing it externally by putting it on paper. Now, by visiting it again and again, we are encoding it into our brains. There are few intensively used types of encoding. Two types are at work here, Visual encoding and Elaborative encoding. I have discussed all of this in detail when I talked about why writing down goals can help you achieve them faster.

Basically how it works is that we write something and that can be visual encoding, looking at that, again and again, evokes the feelings associated with that task, the reason of it, if you may. That is elaborative encoding, this is how priority kicks in. The elaborative part helps us associate reasons behind the task and the consequences associated with it, and in turn, its correlation with our ultimate goals.

This eventually helps us only pick out priority labeled tasks to make us more productive and efficient.

Spending Your Time Right

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Most people generally panic when they have to tackle their tasks by priority because everything feels important. When everything looks like a priority, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is difficult to skillfully juggle multiple priorities and competing responsibilities at the same time. There are times when you have to manage the workload at the office as well as home. 

What we often fail to keep in mind when handling multiple activities is to prioritize them according to their importance. Many people just try to handle various activities as per their instinct and end up never doing the important things. Later, they might blame it on ‘not having enough time’, which obviously is untrue. You have enough time, you just have to start spending it right.

If you don’t know what your priority is, you will never have enough time to get your work done. As Laura Vanderkam says, “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.”

Final Thoughts

Prioritizing your to-do list is very simple if you learn to differentiate between your actual priority and what feels like a priority. Learning to say “no” to whatever is hindering your chances of success is the next big thing. If you learn these two things, you are pretty much sorted. All there is left to do is employ strategies to actually get the work done.

Continue Reading

Goals

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

Published

on

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

A few days ago I discussed why prioritizing your tasks was a much-needed aspect when it came to achieving success. I have always believed that knowing what is important to you will help you focus your energy in the right things.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”

-Russian Proverb

Once you have realized that not every task is equally important and they can be put off, for the time being, you can get to schedule only the tasks that are on your priority list. The problem arises when you cannot determine which task is more important.

One of the questions that help you make sense of prioritization is, “Will this task take me closer to my goal?” The most important tasks are the ones that move you closer to achieving your long term goals.

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

Prioritization helps you have a plan that will push you to focus your time and energy on the right things. It will also help you ensure that your work is done, deadlines are met, and stress is minimized.

Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation or the number of things that need to be done, that’s when your priorities need to be reordered so that you can get things done that bring you closer to your actual goal. At the end of the day, everything boils down to your ultimate goal.  

Nobody’s life is ever all balanced – doesn’t matter if it seems like that to you – everyone has a different set of problems. It’s a conscious decision to choose your priorities every day so that you can keep making progress each day.

The Magic of To-Do Lists

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

“Schedule your priorities.”

-Stephen Covey

To-do lists are really helpful in putting the things that need to be done into perspective. Take the list further by adding additional attributes. You can prioritize tasks in the list itself. If you use an app or digital file, it becomes easier. If you use the old pen-paper method, then you can either rewrite the list after prioritizing the tasks or you can use highlighters or page-markers. Here’s how you can prioritize your tasks.

  • Make a list of all the tasks that you need to do.
  • For bigger tasks, identify individual tasks that will help you complete the project. The breaking of big tasks should be small enough to be completed in a few days or a few hours. 
  • Identify due dates – long-range, midrange, due next month or next week.

Now that you have the list complete. You will have everything laid out in front of you. This will help you make an informed decision without forgetting any tasks. With brain dump out of the way, you can focus on prioritizing the tasks.

  • Assign priorities to each task, from most urgent to not very important – use A, B, C, etc., to designate levels of importance. 
  • After you have decided the priority of your tasks, rank each task within the level using a secondary designation, such as A-1, A-2, A-3 – this can be used for sub-tasks.

You must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, most people often spend their time and energy on what is urgent than what is important. This might get you from one point to another in the short-term but in long-term it will get you nowhere. The next step is that you must do what’s important first which is called priority.

Over time, I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything. When we understand this, it becomes easier to understand what actually matters and what you are doing just because. 

There are many tools provided online to make planning even more detailed yet easier. Tasks can be flagged with contact details of people involved and reminders of upcoming events, due dates, and meetings. You can also make to-do lists, assign due dates, set reminders, schedule meetings, etc.

“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.”

-Laura Vanderkam

Start and end your day with your “to-do” list – check off what you finished and review the remaining tasks at night and in the morning go through the list once to see what all you need to do. Do not constantly reprioritize the list, as it can quickly become an excuse for procrastination and will leave you confused as to what you are supposed to do.

What if Every Task Seems Like a Priority?

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

“When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.”

-Stephen Covey

If you find yourself with more than three top priorities, then that’s a problem. It means you haven’t figured out what tasks are more important. Figure out which ones can wait until later. If all of the tasks are of same nature making them equally important, then that means you need to cut out some tasks, you might have taken on more than you can handle.

Having a laser-like focus on only a handful of things is essential here so that you can have only the tasks that matter the most on your list.

Final Thoughts

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

-Stephen Covey

To achieve success, to complete your goal, to chase your dream with your all – it is really important to learn how to prioritize. There will always be a plethora of things you want to do or you feel like you need to do, but they will never all be at the same level priority wise. 

You need to learn to teach yourself to decide on what is important and stick to doing that – this is the key to finishing things that are high on your list.

Prioritizing allows you to identify the most important tasks at any moment and dedicate the limited time and resources you have accordingly.

Continue Reading

Popular