Being busy can be overwhelming. What is the best way to stay productive — and on task — when you have too much to do?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
1. Break Down Your Tasks
If you really have too much work, the only real solution is to reduce your workload. Delegate what you can and make sure what remains is important enough for you to spend time on. Then, break the remaining tasks down into chunks that will take no more than an hour or two to complete. Choose the four or five most important chunks at the start of the day, and get to work!
2. Schedule Difficult Tasks for Your Most Productive Work Time
Prioritize your work day. You can’t just have a list of things you need to do; you also need to know when you need to get them done. A key strategy is to schedule your hardest stuff for when you’re at your best. Early risers would put those items down to be completed in the morning. If you don’t typically get going until after lunch, mark down your heavy lifting for then.
3. Tackle One Thing at a Time
Trying to multitask will lead to a loss of production. Focus on what matters most at that moment, get it done and move on to the next most important task. Taking one thing at a time is essential to not being overwhelmed.
4. Start With Your Most Important Task of the Day
When there are too many things on your plate, it’s easy to not see any real progress. Start the day with the most important task with the best long-term effect. Only after making at least a couple of hours of progress on that task, take a break and move on to the day-to-day tasks that must be done. By making a little progress on the most important thing each day, you’ll make visible gains over time.
5. Take Many Breaks
When there’s too much to do, you get lost, even if you’re organized and good at beating the clock. The more breaks you take, the more you have time for yourself to rethink your strategies, implement, pivot or readjust. Try taking a 10-minute break every 50 minutes. It is proven to increase your productivity and help you concentrate. My team takes a break every hour. Productivity is at its peak.
6. Schedule Working Time on Your Calendar
Calendars aren’t only for meetings — they’re a way to protect your time and keep you on track. Schedule tasks and projects in your calendar. This will help you from getting distracted because you’ve set aside a clear time for your tasks. It also prevents others from taking over your schedule with new meetings when you have other, high-priority items.
7. Shut Out the Distractions and Close Extra Browser Tabs
In addition to email and social media, there are plenty of other things distracting us every moment of the day. To get a specific task done in a short and focused period of time, try to remove any distractions around you, such as your mobile device. Also, be sure to close out any extra browser window tabs and your email.
8. Have a Morning Routine
Over time I have developed a morning routine that helps me stay productive and on task. I’ll usually wake up around 4 a.m. and try to get the projects that require my full concentration out of the way first before people start arriving in the office. This helps me accomplish a lot of work with few distractions.
9. Use a Productivity App
For busy people who are constantly on the go, using a productivity app is a great way to help you stay on task. With an app like Trello, you can track bigger projects and keep up-to-date on small to-do lists. It also integrates with software like Salesforce, MailChimp, Slack and more. You can access it from anywhere, which makes it really convenient.
– John Turner, SeedProd LLC
10. Learn to Say ‘No’
You’re already busy and have too many important tasks to get done, so don’t say yes to other tasks or requests co-workers might bring your way. Instead, learn the power of saying “no.” We all can be tempted to help out others and prove our competence at work, but saying no to extra projects will keep you from burning out. You’ll also be able to complete all of your original tasks more efficiently.