Nothing can be more stressful than the threat of a deadline looming large. But, it does not have to be so. With just a few adjustments you can get your work done ahead of time.
An ever-increasing number of people have jobs related to digital media, so much so that we have seen several new job titles in that arena. Global connectivity through the Web means that many jobs don’t resemble the old 9-to-5 routines. The weekday-weekend barriers have also been blurred to such an extent that working on weekends no longer raises any eyebrows.
When this is the scenario, issues like procrastination play a bigger role in decreasing productivity than ever before. As a result, work spills into your weekend on a regular basis. Last-minute work usually brings panic and frustration with it. As a frazzled someone who is still working on a Saturday night, I know what I’m talking about.
Meeting deadlines under less stressful situations, which I have done before, is possible with the following tweaks to your workflow.
If you leave it till Monday morning to take stock of what needs to be done in that week, you’re likely to spend at least half a day in planning, checking email, and cribbing about Monday blues. The week will only get shorter from there. That’s why I recommend planning ahead at least a little.
Skip the mental lists as they often have a way of being unrealistic and vague. Just a basic to-do list written on paper or typed on your digital notepad will help you set achievable targets for the upcoming work week. List down the major tasks on which you have to work, assign a day for each of them, and set aside some time for unforeseen tasks that might crop up.
You can even go a step further and create a well-defined task management system. Do ensure that you keep the planning to the required minimum, so that you don’t while away time in the name of organization.
Start Your Work Early In The Week
You begin the week with good intentions to finish X amount of work. Then you go online and all your good intentions disappear beneath a pile of funny tweets, urgent emails, interesting posts, and what not. This is because you take a breather even before you have started working.
It’s easy to think, “Oh it’s still Monday. I have the entire week ahead of me.” Before you know it, Monday will have turned into Friday and you’ll be panicking because your weekend’s lost to work. Again.
This is why it’s a good idea to dive into work without giving your mind time to think of procrastination. If you do slip up, especially because of Internet-induced distractions, you can learn to prevent Internet procrastination.
Forget Multitasking, Try Single-tasking
You have probably been conditioned to believe that multi-tasking is the way to get work done quickly. After all, it means that you’re finishing several tasks in parallel, right? Wrong. Multi-tasking only fools you into thinking you’re getting a lot done, when all you’re really doing is shifting your focus from one task to another dissimilar one, giving proper attention to neither.
Stop multi-tasking and work on only one thing at a time. In my experience, when I write first drafts without pausing to edit or look up facts/data online, I write much faster than when I punctuate every other paragraph with a web search or a dictionary lookup.
Stick To A Schedule
One day you start work at ten in the morning and the next day you begin your workday at three after returning from a dentist’s appointment. When you work in an informal setup, often without a boss-like figure breathing down your neck, your workday becomes fragmented. It’s a great thing that as long as the work gets done well you have the liberty to work when you’re at your energetic best. But this can also cause problems maintaining a proper workflow.
Instead of shifting your work back and forth to accommodate errands, sleep patterns, etc., build up a steady flow for your work. Have specific times for starting work, taking breaks, and finishing for the day. A few weeks of forcing yourself to do this will automatically streamline your workday and help you get through your work faster.
Take Advantage Of Automation
Even tiny activities like posting on social media, paying bills, sending out emails, etc. accumulate to take up a sizable chunk of your work time. As these activities are spread throughout the day, their negative impact is not readily visible.
With so many distractions hounding us, we end up lagging behind on work more often than we would like to admit, and deadlines whiz by frequently. But really, finishing your work on time is not as difficult as it seems to be. Of course, things can and will turn upside down once in a while, but if you make these changes, you can look forward to a relaxed weekend on a fairly regular basis.
Do you finish all your work during the week or does some of it get pushed to the weekends? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credits: Images are derivatives of their originals | tictac by vanf (used under CC), To Do’s by Courtney Dirks (used under CC), 4/365 monday by rcb (used under CC), road trip journal by lecates (used under CC)