Design is a huge factor in determining how successful your workday is. It determines how much you are able to get done as well as how effective you are at reaching your goals. Working smart is obviously much better than working hard.
In a world of information overload, we are always multi-tasking and have too many things that are considered a high priority. The problem with this is that we can only handle a couple of high priority things at any given time. If you have more than a couple of projects that are considered high priority, then you cannot be effective at successfully achieving all of them. If your priority list is very long, you should kill a few projects or temporarily narrow down your list.
In large corporations, workers are generally given too many projects. Each project is classified as being extremely important. An employee seldom says no even when he or she understands that it’s impossible to complete everything to his or her best ability. In this case, there are generally two choices. First, you can complete every project with none of them being great products. Or, you can do a great job on one or two of them with the rest either not getting done at all or finishing late. Your manager will try to squeeze every drop of productivity out of you, but there’s always a limit.
Let’s say that you have two projects that are critical to your success. Anything else is either irrelevant or is just an action step toward achieving that goal. Large projects should be broken down into steps and milestones. This helps keep you on track. And successfully meeting objectives will help motivate you to go ahead and complete the next step.
Your workspace should give you comfort and should not make you feel like you’re going to prison everyday. Cubicles are a productivity drain and are not human friendly. If you can design your workspace to have a degree of inspiration, the quality of your work would improve.
Perhaps there’s a couple of tasks you generally find boring because they are redundant or require very little thought. In addition, you procrastinate on them because of this. You can take your laptop to a coffee shop and finish the task there. This will help because being at the coffee shop makes the experience more pleasant.
Once you get a grasp on how to prioritize effectively, you need to allocate distraction free time to get it done. This can be really difficult. We have cell phones going off, email messages popping up, and people walking in the door assuming we’re working in a public place. The real issue lies with the fact that a single distraction will interrupt our flow. During a critical focus time, a single interruption can completely throw us off. Then, we have to spend at least 5 minutes or longer just to get back to where we were.
Having said that, you need to figure out a way to get yourself some distraction-free time. For many people, this can be early in the morning. For example, if you get to work at 6 a.m., there are few, if any, other workers in the office. No one is there to distract you. When everyone else comes trickling in, between 8 and 9, you will already have 2 hours of productive work done. Compare this with the fact that most employees only deliver about 2 hours of quality work per day. This is because of things like distractions and meetings.
Your coworkers simply can’t get as much done because they are only working during the day when meetings and other distractions are prevalent. By the time they arrive to work, you will have already equaled or surpassed what your coworkers will do for the entire day. The difference being a matter of discipline and workflow design.