The phone is ringing. The to-do list is so full you don’t see the end of it and you just discovered that deadline was… yesterday?
On a day like that, all you want to do is to run home and curl back to bed, or to board a plane to the farthest location possible.
Rule number one: don’t panic.
We live in busy times when it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You can still get things done while keeping your productivity – and sanity- up. Here are a few productivity tips to get you through the busiest of days!
Resist the urge to open the email
Did you know? A study showed that the 80% of people unconsciously hold their breath when checking email. (Author’s note: when I first read the research, I didn’t think much about it, then a couple of days later when I opened the inbox, holy crap, I actually held my breath while it was loading!)
That speaks volumes about the stress that emails are causing us. In fact, we spend on average 28% of the workweek reading and responding to email.
If you want to survive your day, resist the temptation to open the email first thing in the morning. Do it later, and when you’re done close the inbox, don’t leave it in front of you to distract you. Ideally, you should check your inbox not more than 3 times a day.
Prioritize like you mean it
In the sea of things to do, try to determine what’s really urgent and important. To do lists fail when there is no clear priority between tasks, and one of the results is an overcrowded to-do list.
To sort tasks out, try asking yourself these questions:
- Which tasks are both urgent and important?
- Which should I do right now?
- Is it possible to fit any of these later on in my schedule?
- Can this be done only by me? Can I delegate?
Block time for top priority tasks
Once you’ve closed the inbox (you have closed it, right?) and established clear priorities over the things to do, make sure to block some time to get your tasks done. Time blocking means dedicate uninterrupted time and work on the task for some time non-stop.
Let me tell you, it’s going to be hard staying focused and escape distractions. Try to block out noise by putting on headphones and listening to music. Turn off any notification (yes, the inbox notifications, too), ask to temporarily divert phone calls and if necessary, put a “Do not disturb sign” on your door.
Avoid multitasking like the plague
The busiest we are, the more we try to optimize time by doing many things. Bad news: multitasking doesn’t make you more productive, in fact, tons of research have proved that doing more things at the same time leads to a diminished quality and actually less productivity.
Pick one task, and do it well. Personally, I find it helpful to track my time and start a timer while working on a task using Timeneye:
Having an active timer going on makes me more conscious about what I’m doing and forces me to focus on the task at hand, and only on that.
… and make the day end
Congratulations! You’ve survived the day without falling into pieces. Given the workloads and the amount of stress we take on every day, all we should do is to disconnect from work.
Unfortunately, we’re bad at this: a study from Lehigh University, Virginia Tech, and Colorado State University showed that employees spend an average of eight hours a week doing company-related emails (those again!) after hours.
If you never unplug, you never rest your body and your brain and your performance at some point will suffer. Try to establish clear boundaries between your personal and professional life, and make sure other people respect that.
You won’t finish everything (probably)
In the most chaotic days, it’s inevitable that some of our to-dos won’t get finished. What we can do is brace ourselves and reorganize our work and mindest- and we’ll be able to make the most out of the busiest of days.
How do you approach the super busy days of the week? Make sure to share your tips in the comments below. If you hate multitasking as much as we do, start tracking time for your single tasks by signing up for a free Timeneye trial.