Five Techniques To Be More Productive and Less Stressed

Posted on: 17 May 2017

Workloads are becoming more challenging and in many companies, the working day seems to be growing increasingly longer. To excel in your role, it’s vitally important to be productive so you can keep a healthy work-life balance. There are always plenty of distractions that make you lose focus, whether that be a barrage of emails, unnecessary meetings, office chat or social media.

To keep you on track and achieve your goals, here’re five simple techniques to help you get more done in your working day.

Pomodoro will transform the way you work

Scientific evidence has show that humans can only focus on something for short amounts of time, typically 25 minutes. Chopping your workload into 25 minute will give you maximum focus and creative freshness to help you complete the task faster and more efficiently.

How does it work?

Tackle your task intensively for a 25-minute period. Don’t let yourself be distracted by anything else so turn off your emails, ignore the phone and leave social media well alone! After 25 minutes of focusing on the task at hand, treat yourself to a 5-minute break. Your brain needs time to recover from this intense period so take five to get away from to rejuvenate so there’s no harm in having a short period away from your task to relax.

After your break it’s time to hit it hard again for another 25 minutes. Repeat the process, until your task is completed.

After your five minutes off it’s time to hit it hard again for another 25 minutes. Repeat the process, until your task is completed.

Why does it work?

The frequent breaks keep your mind both relaxed and focussed on the task. Focussing intently also helps you eliminate procrastination and helps you make the most of your working day.

The Seinfeld Technique

Next up is an amazingly simple technique from Jerry Seinfeld. You might remember him from 90s, cult classic TV sitcom, Seinfeld, where he played a fictional version of himself. But the American comedian, actor, writer, producer and director, owes his success to a simple but effective productivity technique he developed to help him write more and funnier material.

How does it work?

Jerry Seinfeld wanted to be a better comic and to achieve that he needed to create better jokes. He decided the only way to do that was to write every day, to improve his skills and delivery. As he saw it, only time and effort equals reward.

He bought a giant calendar and a big red marker. For every day that he wrote new material he simply marked a big red cross on the calendar and after a few days, he saw he had created a chain of red crosses. The chain motivated him to keep putting in the hours, he said:

“Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Why it works

The Seinfeld Technique is all about becoming an expert through small daily actions. It works because consistent daily actions builds habits and helps you reach expert level much quicker. The only thing you need to remember is “don’t break the chain”. Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next and before you know it your goal will be out of sight and impossible to achieve.

Must, Should, Want

Must, Should, Want is one of the simplest technique around and it’s also super effective. The technique was developed by Jay Shirley, the creator of a productivity app called The Daily Practice. The guy knows a thing or two about productivity.

How it works

Create a to do list first thing in the morning, just as you usually word, but here’s the kicker, start the list with THREE new entries for the day.

  1. 1. I must (this is a high priority task that will have an immediate impact on your working day/week.)
  2. 2. I should complete (this is a task that will contribute to your long-term goals.)
  3. 3. I want (this is something that you WANT to do and something you actually enjoy.)

Formatting your to do list in this way will help you to achieve your important tasks, plus chip away at your long-term goals. The ‘I want’ task helps you keep your sanity too by making time for something you actually enjoy.

By adopting this technique, you should be super productive in the short term, be on your way to achieving your long-term goals and above all be happy too (helping you to be even more productive).

Getting Things Done (GTD)

GTD is a method of organising your to-do list, to make it more manageable and increase the likelihood of completing each task. It helps you get everything you need to do down on paper and then decide in which order you should work for best effect.

How does it work?

GTD uses five main principles; capture, clarify, organise, reflect and engage.

Capture

First record every task you have in your head on a to-do list, notebook, or any organisational software you regularly use. Capture everything so you don’t have to add anything to your list later, as this will ruin the process.

>Clarify

Dissect each task into subtasks. Complete small tasks immediately and delegate anything you don’t have to do yourself. This will leave you with a well-organised list of priority tasks and know how to complete each one.

Organise

Prioritise your to-do list with due dates and reminders to help you ensure you have time allocated to complete each one. Organisation is vital to the success of GTD so don’t rush it!

Reflect

Look at each task in detail, starting with the highest priority. As the clarification stage breaks down tasks into chunks, you can now pick and choose the chunks you are most comfortable with to get started.

Engage

Get to work and tick off each task as you go. If you find a task that still requires thought, breaks it down into further bite sized chunks.

Why it works

GTD helps you organise and rationalise your workload so you can spend more time working and less time thinking or procrastinating.

The Eisenhower Matrix

President Dwight D Eisenhower was a former General of the US Army and he put his landmark achievements down to an ability to prioritise his workload. He developed the Eisenhower Matrix to help him do just that.

How does it work?

The Eisenhower Matrix is simply an easy, visual way of prioritising your tasks by organising them into four main categories. It looks like this:

Why it works

By understanding what tasks need completing by YOU and in what priority you can help minimise your workload. Offloading or eliminating tasks altogether will help you concentrate on tasks that are important. You can apply the Eisenhower Matrix to your daily, weekly or even monthly to do lists.

These awesome techniques can be used in isolation or in conjunction with each other. For example, pair GTD with Pomodoro to smash through subtasks. Or, combine the Eisenhower Matrix with Seinfeld to remove the time-consuming tasks that will stop you achieving your goals.

For support with your career progress or to discuss your next move, contact the team at Adam on 0161 359 3789 or by emailing hello@weareadam.com.

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