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... is to maximize your productivity when you are working so that you can get more stuff done in shorter periods of time.
By working smarter, you'll find yourself with more time in the day to sleep, exercise, be creative, and recharge. And the key to getting through your to-do list faster is by working smarter -- without sacrificing the quality of your work.
The best one for you depends entirely on your working style and personal preferences.
You can use a physical notebook around everywhere you go, but it's easier to use a to-do list app or tool that syncs across all your devices. That way, you can access your to-do items whenever and wherever you need to, whether you're at your desk, in a meeting, or on a business trip.
Write out your to-do list the day before:
Separate your work and personal to-do lists. You'll be more productive if you focus on work when you're at work and on life stuff when you're at home.
Keep multiple lists separated on the same tools or apps, or if you find it hard to stay focused on one or the other when they share an app or tool, you might use different tools or apps for each part of your life.
Remove any items from your to-do list that you're not realistically going to do and put them on a "to-don't" list.
That way, you aren't wasting any time on the things that don't really matter. This will help you prioritize the more urgent list items and get through everything faster.
It is a great way to collaborate, but it's also a great way to hold yourself accountable.
Having to share your to-do list with others in the first place will force you to spend some time prioritizing your tasks and thinking through which ones you'll be able to realistically complete.
... and block time on your calendar for this.
It can be much easier to focus and get your work done quicker. Plus, it prevents others from setting up meetings with you during that time.
... and put them in the same time frame.
Perpetually shifting your focus between different tasks can add up to a whole lot of wasted time. Shifting between tasks causes temporary mental barriers, depleting our productivity by as much as 40%.
Notifications, phone calls, and noise in the office can make it much harder to get through your to-do list quickly.
Remove those temptations by physically removing stuff like notifications, turning your phone on airplane mode, or even putting your phone in your bag. And if you really need to focus, you might even move yourself to shut out in-person distractions: shut yourself in a room until the task is done.
Work in sprints, followed by periods of rest.
The Pomodoro Technique is all about taking advantage of our natural rhythms of energy and fatigue: You work in 90-minute intervals, followed by 30 minutes of rest between each interval.
Try using a rewards system: Once you knock three items off your list, or once you finish a particularly grueling task, you can allow yourself to check Twitter, eat a snack, or go to the gym.
Bring your laptop with you to a remote location without your computer charger, and aim to get your to-do list done by the time you leave.
This is a way of gamifying your productivity, and it works: The pressure of a looming deadline can do wonders to keep you focused and working smarter.
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