Whether it’s too much to do in too little time that’s overwhelming you or just feeling a bit too tired to focus, we’ve got some tips for you.
Feeling unproductive at work can happen at any time and for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes it’s the summer season or the lead up to holidays, sometimes it’s an impending deadline that’s making you feel really busy and yet you just can’t seem to make any inroads.
But if you’re constantly feeling like you have a mountain of work and still not getting much work done every day, it might be time to look at the bigger picture and really examine why that might be happening.
First, let’s look at the influences outside of work that might be affecting your productivity. Are you getting enough sleep? What about your exercise routine? What kind of snacks are you having throughout the day? Are you staying hydrated?
Write down a critical assessment of all of these things and consider where you could be doing better and then build better habits into a daily routine. There might be reasons why you’re struggling with sleep or not getting as much exercise as you could be and some of these will be easier to fix than others, but knowing how each of these factors affect your focus will go a long way in helping.
Wearing too many hats
Depending on your role, your team, the work you’re doing and the size of your company, you may be in a position where you are spread too thin at the moment. Having too many different projects or areas to look after can lead to you hopping from one task to another, never truly getting any one thing done properly.
This is where you need to take a step back and look at which tasks you can delay, delegate or delete altogether. You may even need to block off a few days where you pass over your daily deliverables and opt out of a few meetings as if you were on annual leave in order to refocus your energy and figure out a more realistic routine. Learning to say ‘no’ will be a critical skill here.
Facing an elephant
Sometimes, you will find yourself procrastinating and making yourself busy being busy in order to avoid a much bigger project. It might be a case of having such a large, looming job ahead of you is making you want to bury yourself in mindless other work that you know you can control and clear off your plate, pushing out the bigger, more important job.
While this makes you feel like you’re working, you’re still going to end up feeling like you got nothing done, so the best way to tackle this is the old saying of how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. If you’re procrastinating with smaller, quicker tasks, then turn the big project into a list of small, quick tasks. You might even find it beneficial to write every microtask down. Yes, it makes your to-do list longer, but it also gives you the sense of achievement you need when it’s time to start clearing some of those tasks off.
Fear of getting it wrong
Another reason you might procrastinate and avoid certain elements of work is not knowing where to start and not wanting to make a mistake. There’s also an element of perfectionism that can come with not wanting to finish a job until absolutely everything is just right.
But there are several sayings that workers must remember to counteract this form of procrastination, one of which is that ‘done is better than perfect’ and ‘you can’t edit a blank page’. One refers to the start of your process and the other refers to the end but both can be used to remind you that it’s better to have something to work with, learn from and change rather than have nothing at all.
So embrace the imperfect start to get you off the ground with whatever task you may be distracting yourself from by reading this article. And when you near the end of your task, remember that good enough is better than perfect because perfect is an impossible goal.
10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.