The thought kept nagging at me, “I don’t have time for this!” But there I laid on my bed, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook posts while my work hours slipped away from me.
Sometimes it’s Facebook, other times its just checking emails, blog comments, or looking at my stats.
But it all boils down to one thing: distraction.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I find that when I have a very busy schedule, rather than remaining focused I tend to avoid it by turning to time waster. So rather than a task taking me a half-hour, it takes me an hour and a half because either I don’t get started on time or I can’t stay focused on the task.
What is the thing you use to avoid looming tasks?
Mine is Facebook. No doubt about it.
Whether it’s scrolling through my feed, checking in on my groups (which is something I should do, but don’t always need to do at that particular time), or checking the stats on my fan page; Facebook is the one thing I use to avoid those deadlines.
But here’s the thing, while we tend to pride ourselves on being multi-taskers, we can only multi-task so much. In fact, research shows that we aren’t nearly as good at multi-tasking as we think we are.
And it makes sense.
You can divide your attention by only so many tasks before each task isn’t getting very much attention.
It’s better to do one thing well than to do many things mediocre.
So, here are 5 ways I’m improving my efficiency in 2016
1. Trim down the tasks. I am writing down everything I need to get done in a week, and then minimizing that list by crossing off the tasks that are not important.
Perhaps those tasks are important at some point, but they don’t necessarily need to be done this week. At some point we need to dial down the pressure and give ourselves room to efficiently do what truly needs to be done. And do it well!
2. Turn off the distractions. I am working very hard at not having Facebook open all the time. It’s easy to keep a tab open on your browser, but those notifications scream at you, “Come look at me!”
Honestly, you can only be fully present in one area: with your tasks, with your family, with your social media…but you can’t be all 3 places at once. So, you have to choose. The first two are important, the last one isn’t. Those notifications will still be there (and gathering friends).
So, close the browser window, turn the notifications off on your other devices, and focus!
3. Close your email. You do not have to have your email open all day. Close the program or browser window and set aside one time a day to look at and answer emails.
Become even more efficient by setting up rules for your emails.
Send all your newsletters to a certain folder where you can access them when you have time to read them and then set aside a certain amount of time each day for answering emails so that you don’t end up spending more time on this task than is necessary.
4. Use a timer. This is quickly becoming my friend.
There are certain things that I give myself unlimited time to do – like writing posts, for example. I can’t fit writing into a limited window of time. That is a major creativity killer for me. But there are tasks that I give myself time slots for, like scheduling Facebook posts for my fan page, Twitter, Pinterest, email, blog post promotion, etc.
I set the timer and work, and when it rings I’m done.
Knowing that the timer is running helps me hone in on the task and give it my 100% attention.
Doing these four things enables me to do #5 and enjoy it.
5. Allow ample margins. We are not machines, we are humans with load limits and limited energy reserves.
We can be hard task masters with ourselves, filling up every available time slot in our day with tasks from the moment we get up until we fall into bed at night completely exhausted…groaning because we have only a few hours of precious sleep before we have to get up and do it again.
First of all, to be truly efficient we need at least 8 hours of sleep. I know some people think they can get by with less, but studies prove two things: we are a chronically sleep deprived society and sleep deprivation gives us slower reaction times than alcohol.
But getting 8 hours of sleep, with no reprieve during the day, will still not give us maximum efficiency. There is a reason why the law requires employers to give their employees regular breaks throughout their work day. We need moments where we pull away from work and allow our bodies and brains to rest and gather energy to keep going.
Set aside certain times of the day when you unplug – not just at night.
Unplug without a device or book in your hand. Lie down, close your eyes, and allow your body to recharge. Studies are now showing the unbelievable benefits of power naps that radically improve our efficiency.
If we want to take our insanely impossible dreams to the next level in 2016, we must learn to stop avoiding our to-do lists and cut out the distractions so we can work efficiently and give our bodies the rest they need.
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