Structured routines help you work more effectively. Having a routine helps you determine what you want to do, and how you are going to achieve it. This is a much better strategy than working with a vague idea of what you want to accomplish.
Read on about the 8 steps that will help you create the right structure to organise your workflow and improve your productivity.
1. Identify the scope and goals of each work activity
Before you get started, write down each work activity you have to complete as well as the goals for each.
For example, say you have an essay due in a week. You wouldn’t want to write down: ‘Start essay’. Try to be specific like this: ‘Write first paragraph of essay’. By specifying what you exactly want to do during that day, you will have more of a chance to get it done.
2. Break down the major tasks for the activity into smaller segments
Breaking down large tasks into smaller segments makes the task more manageable and doable. Referring back to the last example of the essay, by breaking down the essay into smaller segments, it makes it much easier to cope with the workload. That way, you can organise your time and complete small segments of the essay during the week. Then combine them together, edit it, and you have your whole task completed.
Tip: Always break down large tasks into smaller segments to lessen the initial shock of the immensity of the workload.
3. Establish a timeline for completing the work activity
Each work task should have a timeline for progress to completion. Again, stemming from the essay example, your timeline might look like this:
Day 1: Research essay topic and take notes
Day 2: Write first paragraph of essay
Day 3: Write second paragraph of essay
Day 4: Write third paragraph of essay
Day 5: Write fourth paragraph of essay
Day 6: Write introduction and conclusion
Day 7: Re-read and edit essay
By dividing your tasks across a timeline, you have a clear indication of how your task will progress.
4. Write the due date for each task in your calendar
If you have a deadline for a task, be sure to mark it on your calendar well in advance so you are prepared. Nothing is worse than finding out you have a deadline to cover in a few days.
Tip: Always know the due date of your task and write it down before you forget.
5. Prioritise completing the most urgent and difficult tasks first, then follow onto the smaller, less complicated tasks
Try and complete the most urgent and difficult tasks when your mind is fresh. The optimal times to tackle these tasks are during the early morning when you are highly focused rather than later in the day when you start to feel sleepy.
Once you have completed these difficult tasks, you can follow onto the smaller, less complicated tasks. That way you have gotten the more stressful tasks out of the way and can finish the day with more relaxing tasks.
6. Set your break time
We aren’t machines that can run 24/7, 7 days per week. Always schedule a 5 minute break time every hour to refuel yourself. Use this time to grab a snack and drink, or go for a walk to stretch your legs after sitting down for long periods of time.
7. Put away distractions
Once you start working, eliminate all distractions. This includes your mobile phone, turning off the TV or radio, and shutting down your google tabs that aren’t related to work. This helps you maintain your focus on the task at hand, rather than getting distracted and losing your momentum.
8. Get working
Last but not least, get working. Start now, rather than later, and get things done.
What do you think about these tips? Share your thoughts down below, and if you have any other suggestions in creating the right structure for organising your workflow, be sure to share them with us.
Stay tuned to the next part of the series.