We’ve all been there; we have a massive To Do List. Overwhelmed, distracted and having been procrastinated – you feel like before you cross a task off your To Do List you’ve added three more tasks. We have 24 hours in the day; it is important be result-oriented. From this (LINK) millennial’s point of view, here are four productivity tips that have helped me knock things off my To Do Lists in 2016.
Don’t just say you’re going to take a break, schedule a break. For many people, including myself who are constantly working, it can be incredibly helpful to treat time away from working on your To Do List as if it is part of your To Do List. Schedule a lunch date with a friend, time to watch your favorite television show or even half an hour of fresh air. By adding a consistent approach on how to you execute tasks, whether it be personal or professional, you give yourself an easy transition to go from one to another without getting lost. I’ve found when I have attempted non-scheduled breaks they left me less productive overall.
During a recent conversation with a fellow student at the University of Delaware, while addressing his desire to improve his academic performance, I posed the question, “How do you plan on doing it?” He simply stated, “I’m going to work harder.” In my personal opinion, the more tangible and clearly defined the goal is, the more likely you are to be able to reach it. The most successful people I have encountered, whether it be fellow students (Link: http://www.jonathanjuliengordon.com ) or professionals (Robert Cioffi), are incredibly goal oriented. In a 1979 study with Harvard’s MBA Program, one variable was identified to distinguish 3% of MBA’s who made ten times as much as the other 97% combined. The question presented was; “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” As you may have guessed, 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them. Those 3% on average were earning ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.
STUDENT 1: I’m going to do better in school by working harder.
STUDENT 2: In order to bring my cumulative GPA to a 3.5, I need to achieve an average of 95 in my four courses this semester.
STUDENT 1: has an interpretive statement. If his GPA improves by .01 points, he did do better in school, but was that sufficient? Not having a clearly defined goal can lead to an undefined outcome.
STUDENT 2: is much more likely to achieve success because the student quantified his definition of success.
one short sentence.
A Defined Plan; Breaking End Results into Smaller Goals
As stated in the Harvard study, a plan is a key element in the achievement of success. In school, students are often given an ‘end of year’ assignment. Students can wait to the last night and hope for the best, work on it gradually, or something in between. Personally, I don’t any of these options. Breaking up goals and projects into smaller goals and phases of projects is the best way to stay on track. When working on projects for Authentic Ink Graphs, we used applications such as Slack and Teamwork, creating GANTT Charts (link) to break up our tasks. A defined end result is important, but equally as important is understanding how we are going to reach this end result and what necessary steps are needed to arrive there. Plan on gradually and randomly working on a project leads to less productivity. The time required to reimmurse yourself in what you were doing represents lost time. If you have documented that you’ve reached Phase X, you now are clear as to the next steps required to reach the next phase of the project. Defining sub goals, will allow you to keep on task because you can clearly measure how ahead or behind you are. An example of a GANTT Chart, created for an Authentic Ink Graphs project is below. All of our tasks and sub goals were clearly defined.
We were able to consistently reach our end goal by taking time to understand what was needed to get done, how we would do this, what individual was responsible for what tasks, etc. - Establish Strong Daily Routines 1) Get Enough Sleep: Waking up early and being productive throughout the day, requires ample sleep. Depending on the individual, 7 to 8 hours is appropriate. 2) Wake Up Early: The opportunity cost of sleeping late is incredibly high. Getting work done in the early hours of the day consistently proves to be incredibly productive, specifically from the millennial perspective. Stripped of human interaction, one is able to focus and give oneself more time to accomplish what is needed for the day. 3) Morning Zen: Before starting work, take 10-15 minutes to breath and relax. What you do in that period is up to you. We can call this the focusing period. Drink some tea, engage in light aerobic exercise or even meditate (HeadSpace). Focus on your breath will help increase your overall productivity. 4) Plan Your Day: This is the single determinant of a productive next day. Before the current day has concluded, take 15 minutes to plan out the following on a program such as iCalendar.
From my own experience, knowing what I am going to do, when I am going to do it and how I am going to do it, provides structure and a defined result for each day. It’s imperative to give yourself realistic daily goals. None of us are superheros; Rome wasn’t built in a day.