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The secret of effective people

Most of us aren’t always productive, but once habits are formed, progress and efficiency are within reach.

1. Make a to-do list

Trying to keep everything you have to do in your head will distract you and, according to a 2011 study, can actually make you less likely to get it done.

Instead, write a to-do list, which will help you organize your work by week and day better, and at the same time take the initiative in time and control the progress. When completed, mark it, helping you increase self-satisfaction, thereby having more motivation for the next tasks.

Life and career expert Lisa Petsinis, based in Canada, advises not to pile up a huge to-do list at the beginning of the week as it will frustrate you. The best way is to sort by priority, alternating “rewards”. For example, when you complete a big task, you will be rewarded with half an hour for something you enjoy like journaling, reading, watering plants…

Make a weekly to-do list and break down each day's tasks to help you have a clear work plan, balance between work and rest.  Photo: Yourtango

Make a weekly to-do list and break down each day’s tasks to help you have a clear work plan, balance between work and rest. Image: Yourtango

2. Break down your daily to-dos

Breaking down your daily goals can make the “mountain of work” easier to tackle. Many people have used the Pomodoro method to help them focus on certain tasks. Specifically, pick a task that needs to be completed, and devote 25 minutes of your full attention to it. At the end of 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break and then move on to the next task. Once you’ve done four tasks, you can take a longer break (between 10-15 minutes).

This type of time management is a combination of determination and discipline. The secret to success is to have a clear and complete plan before starting.

3. Work in order of priority

Making a list will help you prioritize what’s important. You can try Eisenhower’s Matrix – a technique that helps to organize tasks in order of priority instead of all at the same level.

Eisenhower is made up of four squares. The first is that urgent and important tasks must be done as soon as possible. The second comes to tasks that are not urgent but important. Third, urgent tasks that you can delegate to others. Fourth, not urgent or important tasks and you may or may not do.

“Many people think multitasking works, but the opposite is true,” explains Christine Hourd, Leadership and Success Coach in Canada. Working by priority will help you focus on a single task for a given amount of time, leading to increased productivity. Adhere to these boundaries and you will have a productive day.

4. Identify and exploit productive working hours

Each of us has hours of the workday that are more productive, alert, and focused than others. Identify these critical hours and exploit them for maximum productivity. Some people work best at night, some in the morning, and some are most focused on their lunch break. Take advantage and exploit. This is also a habit of productive people.

5. Take a break and reward yourself.

Don’t be afraid to take breaks, but always stick to the plan. You’ll be able to focus better if you plan ahead for breaks and rewards. Use breaks and rewards proactively, not letting yourself be controlled by it. In the morning, give yourself a 10-20 minute break after completing the task. Then do the second task and reward yourself with a second break.

We are less productive when we are tired. So take care of yourself not only when you are tired but also normally. Remember, one hour of productive work is better than two to three hours of work while tired, mentally ill.

6. Don’t wait for inspiration

Don’t wait to be inspired to start non-tasking. Oddly, if you’re actively looking for inspiration to do something, it’s easier to start and do it. Waiting for something to inspire you only leads to distraction and a waste of time.

7. Break up big projects

When you have large tasks, you should break them down into small steps that are easier to manage. For example, if you have to write a report, don’t add the “write 200 page report” task to your daily to-do. Instead, divide it up, the first day of writing the outline, the following days to develop the outline.

Everyone is results-oriented. If the task is too big, it will be difficult for you to complete and easily frustrated. Creating small goals to focus on will keep you on track.

8. Let’s get started

This is difficult because going from doing this job to work much easier than going from doing nothing to doing anything. This is the most important tip though, because once you get started, you’ll find the way that works best for you. Every task, big or small, has in common that someone, at some point, had to sit down and get started.

Bao Nhien (According to Yourtango)

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