by: Jessica Carlson
Something that I struggled with in the past is having multiple tasks and prioritizing to make sure that I am able to meet my deadlines. One way that I have found to help me keep organized and on task is “Time Blocking.” It sounds simple enough, right? Setting aside a certain amount of time each day is a good start. Nevertheless, with everything else going on around you it can be difficult to stay focused. Here are a few strategies I discovered help me keep on track:
- Set your own deadlines. Even if you are working on something that does not necessarily have a specific end, you can set a goal to get X amount done by Y time. You would be surprised how watching the clock can keep you focused.
- Limit how much time you are spending on tasks. Staring at the same spreadsheet for 8 hours can really fry your brain. Set aside 90 minutes at a time to work on one project. If that means you have to come back to it later in the day and work on it again, that’s ok. You will get twice as much done in the same amount of time over a longer period than if you tried to do it all at once.
- Minimize interruptions. Close out your email, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and/or close your office door. Set aside specific times each day to check and respond to voicemails/emails. Even brief interruptions can throw you off; studies show that it takes around 25 minutes to get back to the original task you were focused on after an interruption.
- Take breaks. I know, it sounds counterproductive. However, working without breaks can lead to a decrease in productivity. Non-stop focus on one thing for hours can leave you drained. You should take at least 15-20 minutes for each 90-minute time period spent working to feel re-energized.
If you are trying to increase your productivity, think about ways you can work smarter, not harder. Your calendar is probably full, so step back and resist the temptation to put in longer hours and pack more into your already busy day.