As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.
Going to work knowing that the day is going to be like a battlefield isn’t exactly the best way to start. That doesn’t mean that you can turn the day around and get everything done, surviving the chaos ahead.
To get through a stressful and busy day, make sure to start on the right foot.
Things to do before starting on a tough day
- Get rid of email;
- Check work of the day before;
- Pick 3 top priorities;
- Make sure you’ve removed all distractions;
- Get in the flow.
Step 1: control the inbox
Usually, the biggest drain into someone’s productivity is email. A scary percentage of workers’ time goes away in just answering email.
So by putting into practice a few email management hacks, you’ll make sure to get the most time-consuming, anxiety-inducing activity out of the way.
After you’ve got all the emails out, you’ll have to make sure they don’t disturb you for a while. So turn off the inbox notification or at least pause them for a while.
Quick email management Hacks:
Step 2: check the work you’ve done the day before
Knowing what you have already done will help you get a headstart on the rest of the day.
Not to mention, you’ll be able to pick up from what you’ve left behind the previous day, and also check how your work is progressing.
Whether you manage your tasks with a project management tool, a kanban board, a time tracking tool, or a simple piece of paper, make sure to always have a full picture of your work.
Without it, you’ll risk hopping from task to task hopelessly while neglecting the tasks that really matter.
Tools that help you track your work:
– Timeneye for Time tracking and reporting on your time;
– Todoist for your to-dos
– Trello for tracking the progress of your work, kanban-style
– Asana and Basecamp for monitoring whole projects.
Step 3: pick the top 3 priorities of the day
I know what you’re thinking: how is it possible to pick a priority when everything is a priority?
The very definition of a “busy” day implies that it’s full of to-dos to be completed within the day with the utmost urgency.
Still, having clear priorities is essential to navigating through the day.
One popular way to do it is based on the Eisenhower matrix and it involves assigning different levels of urgent and important:
– Urgent and important: do immediately
– Urgent and not important: delegate
– Not urgent and important: schedule it within the week
– Not urgent and not important: cut it
Step 4: make sure you’ve removed all distractions
You’ve already turned off the email notifications by now. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be safe from distractions.
Given that during the day there will be things beyond our control, make sure you can work without interruptions by removing the distractions you can control:
– Snooze notifications on your phone from social media and messaging apps;
– Better yet, turn the airplane mode on;
– Make sure to solve all possible questions and queries from your colleagues before you get to work, and be clear about your availability during the day.
Step 5: get in the flow
Block time on your day to get rid of the top priority task, as you have established in the step #3.
Working non-stop until those tasks are done is your best chance to end the day achieving something productive.
Don’t forget to resist the urge of multitasking: it’s easy to think that by having two or three tasks at hand at the same time, you’ll work more quickly. But contrary to popular belief, to multitask effectively is extremely difficult and can actually slow us down.
Now that you have set off on the right path, you can take on everything that the workday will throw at you!