In business as in many aspects of life, it is fundamental to understand the importance of value over volume: productivity is not exclusively linked to quantity. It is often better to do fewer things, but to do them with excellence. It is in the context of this minimalist approach aimed at simplifying processes as much as possible that the expression “less is more” takes on its full meaning.
To begin with, divide tasks into two groups: activities and products.
There are tricks to overcoming procrastination depending on the type of task. To begin with, product-type tasks are usually the ones that require more effort at first because they involve thinking. The trick is to transform all these tasks into activities – and thus into so-called “repetitive” tasks – to encourage automatic process and reduce mental resistance.
For example, if one of your tasks is to write an article on a given topic, as here, one tip is to reserve a 25-minute slot to devote exclusively to this task. Keep in mind that you don’t have to finish this task as soon as you start it, and just focus on getting fully immersed in your subject until the alarm sounds.
It is surprising how easy it is to overcome the hassle of getting started (and thus getting into action) when you are free of the frustration caused by the quest for the immediate result. This tip is particularly useful for tedious, boring, time-consuming or very complicated tasks. Included in the book Mini-Habits, this technique involves achieving a series of small successes throughout the day. This sense of accomplishment will boost your productivity and your mind! Sounds better than sitting in front of a computer for hours on end and feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything at the end of the day, right?
Many people dread task lists for fear of being demoralised by their length. However, many entrepreneurs have achieved exceptional results by using these task lists wisely.
The “to-do list” originated in a 1918 challenge by steel magnate Charles M. Schwab to Ivy Lee, a consultant nicknamed “Mr. Productivity”. Mr. Schwab wanted to increase the productivity of his staff. To meet the challenge, Lee asked to talk to all the managers for ten minutes to share his recommendations. A few months later, Lee’s recommendations were successful and he was rewarded with a $25,000 cheque. This was the beginning of the task lists that are still used today by many employees to become more productive.
The task list should be simple, short and hierarchical, with four sub-categories: All, Priorities, Today and Done. This is the basis of all good organisation.
This list is an extension of your brain. Everything goes into it. You unload all the tasks you need and want to do, then allow your mind to get rid of whatever is on it. This is supposed to free you from ruminating thoughts.
This list is not to be used all the time: it simply helps to free ourselves from our mental load.
In this one, you can write down three or four tasks that you intend to do and that need special attention or a shorter time frame than the others. In the same way, you can make daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly priority lists.
This is a list of incoming tasks to be done, after the priorities. Therefore, as tasks appear, they should be noted in the today list. Then, towards the end of the day, you can tackle all these tasks and solve them all together. What will then dominate your day is the priority list! If you have enough time left after completing all the tasks on the “Today” list, you can move on to managing the tasks on the “Everything” list.
This list helps you view the work already done and at the same time gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Despite appearances, this is a very important and special list in the time management process. All progress should be acknowledged, especially by yourself.
In addition, in the list of completed tasks, you can also measure how close you are to your goal and whether you are choosing your priorities well. This list called “Done” will be a real benchmark of how well or poorly you are managing your working time!
You may find it difficult to get started with the list system due to lack of practice. There are mobile applications, called “task managers” that also serve this purpose: TASK, Google calendar, etc. Prioritising is about determining the hierarchy of tasks in your daily life, according to your goal and not according to the urgency with which things come up.
If you could only do one thing tomorrow, what would you choose to do? Start by writing down your priority, followed by two goals. At all times, keep in mind the time needed to accomplish this task since, as stated at the beginning of this article, it’s about doing things right, not just getting them done faster.
If you are not sure that the most important thing you have to do the next day is what you have chosen as your priority, you can recalibrate or rethink. But it is important that you do not change your true priorities to (non) urgent things.
The Zeigárnik effect explains that we remember interrupted tasks better than completed ones. Engaging in a task creates a completion motivation that remains unfulfilled if the task is interrupted. To avoid the somewhat demoralising feeling of frustration this may bring, it is possible to set up a closing day that helps us to switch off. This can be done by using the “Done” list, making a mental review of the activities and things you have done throughout the day. Another part of the ritual is also to ask yourself what you have learned during the day, what worked or what needs to be improved and how many times you were interrupted. I also advise you to take care of your work space to start the day in a good mood!