At home or at the office, it can be difficult to work in good conditions, avoid procrastinating, and organize yourself correctly to be really effective. Here are some tips we can give you !
Who never had any problems organizing themselves? Be it for work, or for tasks to do at home. So many things to do, so little time, with only 24 hours a day, and procrastination looming around the corner…
Finding a way to organize is not an easy task. What works for someone may not work for someone else. Everyone is wired differently, and everyone has their own favorite working methods. The real difficulty is to find which one works for yourself.
To be clear, we are not saying this only for the sole benefit of your professional life (and what your boss thinks of you). There is also a real personal challenge behind this : unfinished tasks have a tendency to stay in your head, take up space, and eat away at your wellbeing over time. It is difficult to fully enjoy your evening with a constant feeling of culpability all the time.
So, we are proposing several options, going from the “basics” to more elaborated methods. Help yourself with those and try to find what works the best for you !
Small simple rules
Before going into more advances techniques, let’s start with the general rules applicable in all cases.
The first rule is a fundamental one : the 2 minutes rule. This one is very simple : do you have a task to do that will take you at most 2 minutes to complete ? Then do it now. Get rid of it now, it will be done and out of your mind ! It is a very easy way to reduce your mental charge.
Do be careful not to abuse it, however. If you spend your time putting the more important tasks to a later time by actively looking for 2-minute ones, you will spend your time avoiding those urgent tasks. This is procrastination with extra steps.
This is where the next rule shines : do the boring stuff first.
Some tasks are more annoying than others. Long, not fun, repetitive… Sort them out first and get them out of your system right away. You will have to do them anyways, but the relief and satisfaction being done with them will allow you to focus on the fun stuff that much quicker and will give you a boost for the day.
This is known as “Eating the frog”.
Finally, when you’re focused on something, put away all distractions. Put your telephone away, clean your working space… Some organizing will do wonders.
Now is the time to get to it. Everyone has their methods, but we will tip you off with a couple of them.
Keep in mind they work differently, and this short list is not exhaustive. Do experiment and find what works best for you !
– The Pomodoro method : A very simple method to apply, and very versatile, adaptable to your own rhythm.
Here is how it works : Put together a list of tasks you have to do, and get a rough estimate on the number of cycles you will need to complete it.
Then, start the timer, and focus entirely on your work for 25 minutes. Take a 5 minute break, then do it again. After 4 cycles, you’ve earned a longer break, from 15 to 25 minutes.
Don’t use your smartphone as a timer – Remember that rule about distractions ! There are dedicated websites for this, or if you have a cooking timer, now is the time to put it to use. The “Pomodoro” name comes from this after all ! “Pomodoro” in italian means tomato, and is based on the timer’s form the creator used.
Your breaks have to be without a direct relation from your work. Stretch, walk, drink some water… It’s even the right timing to do some breathing coherency !
Do not feel bad about your breaks. Few are the ones that can work optimally on a very long period of time. You’ve earned your breather.
You can experiment with durations too. Some prefer a 50-minute work period and 10-minute breaks. Find what works best for you !
The Pomodoro method is all about managing your time right.
– The “Getting Things Done” (GTD) Method : this method puts a focus on organization and task priority, and works for longer duration than the Pomodoro method.
There is 5 steps to this method : Capture everything, Clarify, Organize, Review and Engage.
.Capture everything, all the tasks that come to mind. And we do mean everything that comes to mind, not just work-related ones !
.Clarify the list. Is the task a necessity for your goal ? If so, keep it. Otherwise, discard it.
From the tasks you keep, are some of them a priority ? If not, discard it. If yes, can it be done in two minutes ? If yes, do it now. Otherwise, continue.
.Organize the remaining tasks. You need to classify them depending on their importance and urgency.
Planify important and urgent tasks quickly. Important but not urgent tasks can be done at a later time. An urgent but not important task can be delegated.
.Review has to be done at least once a week, to keep tabs on where you are on your planning, what has been done, and what has been added.
.Engage and get things done.
This method can be combined with the Pomodoro method if you can manage it. Consistency is key !
There are as much methods as people, and everyone can find a variant that works for them. Finding it is the difficult part, but you will be that much more efficient once you find it !