1. Consider a no meeting day
Block off an entire day (or a half day) every week for no meetings. This works particularly well if you can get your entire company or even just your team on board. Mark bigger tasks (ones that will take more than 30 mins to complete) with a date before your upcoming no meeting day. This means having a lot of tasks with certain due dates. Unsurprisingly, we complete a lot of tasks on that day.
Having a full day free from meetings allows both managers and non-managers to get into their zone and tackle the big projects that often get interrupted other days of the week. Once you implement a no meeting day, you’ll find that you will increase productivity for that day of the week, and will reduce your stress level on other days when you can’t find a block of time to focus on your work.
2. Block off the right time for big projects
Spend a few days taking pulse of your current schedule (or lack thereof)? When are you most and least productive? Then, plan to work on smaller tasks and those that require less brainpower and creativity at times when you tend to be less inspired. Block off larger chunks of time on your calendar when you’re most ‘on’ for your bigger tasks. This way, when you have a free block of time, you’ll know to tackle the big tasks, and if you only have a few minutes, you’ll plow through your smaller tasks.
A lot of procrastination is a result of poor scheduling: trying to tackle energy-consuming big projects at times when you’re most in need of a break, or not quite ready to be strategic. Being aware of what times are good for you to get work done, and planning around it, can increase productivity.
“The most effective workers are ones who attempt tasks in short bursts of concentration, rather than long bouts of meandering.
3. Try the Pomodoro Technique to Increase Productivity
This technique advocates breaking big projects or tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks distributed throughout the course of your day and — notably — separated by frequent breaks. Each task should take no longer than 25 minutes and breaks should be approximately 5 – 30 minutes (depending on how long you need to recharge before the next task).
The technique’s name comes from a tomato kitchen timer, used to time 25-minute increments. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that optimizes for creative recharging, so you’ll have less mental fatigue and can move faster through projects.
4. Block off time to plan your day
Schedule 30 minutes to an hour on your calendar at the beginning or end of each day and use this time to organize your day and respond to teammates in your Inbox (and email). This allows you to prioritize your work and allow yourself to focus on just the tasks at hand (vs. getting overwhelmed by the ‘big picture’).
Reactive days during which you’re constantly responding to messages, getting distracted by the latest new task, or spending time figuring out what to do next, wastes a lot of time and drains your energy. Getting through housecleaning before you even start your day will save time and conserve your energy for more mindful work later.