It’s easy to loose track of time after starting a 2-minute task. Although it’s a good thing that you can immerse yourself in a task that you had to use the 2-minute rule to begin with, losing track of time may leave you behind on everything else.
Pay attention to your schedule and prioritize properly.
Many people wonder how a desk job can be so mentally tiring. The ego-depletion theory states that there is a limited amount of mental energy which we consume while sitting and working, just like a gas tank guzzles up all the gas till it’s empty.
This theory is being challenged, as we may be wrong on how our brains and bodies consume energy.
It turns out that the things that we aren’t motivated to do, and yet have to do (like going on a sales call, or making a report) will tire us out quickly, but the things that we love to do, or are doing on our own accord (like scrolling through Instagram) do not cause any psychological fatigue.
This works well for the chronic procrastinator: those who say they will do it later and then wonder why it never gets done.
Instead of getting overwhelmed, tackle your to-do list in small manageable chunks. Scheduling your time by the hour takes little effort to implement but provides real results.
Rather than trying to work flat-out, break down your day into a series of work-sprints with a short rest period after each session.
Set a timer for 25 min and focus exclusively on your work for that time, take a 5 min break, and repeat.
Some people find that taking a 5 min break destroys their flow. But it does help to break long complex tasks into a series on manageable sprints.
The 2-minute rule is a strategy for quickly assessing and taking action on small tasks so they don’t take up too much mental energy.
Ask yourself if a task is going to take you 2 minutes or less. If so, just do it.
This method involves literally planning out each of your next hours, rather than your whole day.
Start the day by writing a list of what you intend to do over the next hour. Top up the list throughout the day so it always contains approximately one hour’s work.
This works well for the over-promiser: those who overestimate how much they can do in a day.
To prevent starting the day unplanned, plan your day the night before.
Assign every hour of your day to a specific task.
Take your day’s to-do list and estimate how long each task will take. Plan your day out by assigning each task to your calendar. Include all related tasks such as commuting, breaks and admin tasks.
Eating the frog means taking the biggest job you need to do and tackling it at the very start of the day, getting it over and done with.
Check out your to-do list. Pick the task you’ve been putting off.
Identify when your peaks/troughs are and plan your day around your energy levels. Alternatively, you can also work with your chronotype.
The method involves identifying your big rocks (i.e. your priorities) then planning your day around them.
This is for the constantly over-committed - those who struggle to fit everything into a single day cycle.
Theme each individual day of your week to a specific type of task.
When you have a plan for the month, it gives you a sense of what you can realistically get done.
Experiment with monthly planning and see whether or not it fits in with your productivity cycles.
This is good for the big dreamer because it helps with starting making progress on long-term goals.
Planning for a year leads to a lax attitude throughout the start of the year, leading to a burst of frantic activity as the end of the year approaches. Forget about your annual plan and accomplish the same goals in just 12 weeks.
This works for seasonal workers.
Make a list of your annual commitments including work events and personal events. Plan your tasks around these events.
Rather than planning your time, plan your goals. Ignore specific timelines and instead focus on progressing toward your key goals.
For example, if you want to be President, you might choose to volunteer for local political activities, as opposed to taking a high-paying job in the private sector.
The Planning Fallacy is a prediction error that one repeatedly makes, misestimating the time it takes to complete a certain task.
This usually happens when trying to complete an unpleasant or stressful task, leading to postponement, procrastination and eventually missed deadlines.
We assume we have more time than we really do, and we will get the job done quickly. Tasks like filing one’s tax return, catching a plane, investing in one’s health and other life demands become difficult with this basic assumption.
The planning fallacy affects our work satisfaction and health, leading to stress and burnout.
Things usually do not happen as we expect them to be. Our inner view of things (our cognitive bias) is shattered with unexpected obstacles, delays and interruptions.
Instead of relying on your own subjectivity and frame of reference, check out your previous experiences and take an external view of things, which may be more realistic.
"What can go wrong, will go wrong".— Murphy’s Law
Applying a pessimistic approach to work makes us curb our enthusiasm and work more realistically. We will ditch the cheery outlook and work on meeting the deadlines, prioritizing what’s important while leaving out the fluff.
If we can avoid the urgent tasks and focus on important ones, we can take care of our long-term goals.
Many small, mindless, menial tasks seem important and urgent to us, as they provide us with a rush of accomplishment. Answering a phone call or an email demand quick and immediate action and provide an illusion of urgency, even though they may be trivial.
Time isn’t our enemy and we can work with time to maximize our productivity. The Pomodoro technique teaches us to work in short focused time slots of 20 to 40 minutes, and then give yourself a break.
You can chop long and complex tasks into manageable chunks of activity, and keep yourself away from urgent but unimportant tasks.
People around us want our time and attention, which is increasingly precious and scarce.
Gossiping or unwanted chatting eats away from our work without us even realizing it. If we say ‘no’ to the time bullies that surround us, people may not like it initially but will learn to respect your time.
Our original plans and goals sometimes become the cognitive biases that do not let us work on a daily basis. They anchor themselves in our brain from the time we decided to set the goal. Our initial predictions, expectations or assessments may not be accurate and may need major or minor tweaks.
We need to focus on the current situation in a realistic manner and understand that every day is new.
The workplace is a competitive zone, and enthusiastic workers take an unfair lead even though their plans are unrealistic and overly optimistic.
You don’t need to succumb to the pressure, once you understand how the planning fallacy works. The outcome will provide clarity to all.
Asking for an opinion from someone who is not neck-deep in cognitive biases due to being too close to the subject matter may be an eye opener.
Asking for open and honest feedback will provide you with valuable insights and direction.
A lot of people make the mistake of turning down important work due to urgent work that comes up suddenly.
A task requiring immediate attention is an urgent task, whereas important tasks are those that when they're done, they will add value to the organization.
Some tasks are neither urgent nor important, but as these time-wasting tasks are in front of us, we end up consuming our time with them. These include:
Urgent tasks are the ones that are not adding any value but come up to be done at that moment. The right approach is to avoid the urgent and focus on the important.
Example: Answering a phone call can seem urgent, due to its ringing, but it may not be that important.
Many tasks fall into the urgent and important category and have to be prioritized in your to-do list as critical.
Focus on completing these tasks first.
Tasks that are important but not urgent are the most neglected. These include researching, documenting, planning and organizing.
Set aside time for important tasks, even though they don't appear urgent.
Just doing enough every day, even if it is not the whole list, is the key to avoiding burnout. Being 100 percent productive does not mean working 18 hours a day without a break.
Not working, relaxing, or calling it quits is part of the process of work, after we figure out what is ‘enough’ for us.
The harder and longer you work, the less productive overall you'll be. Research confirms that taking breaks before you're mentally exhausted is essential for productivity.
When you take time for a break, get up and stretch, get water, go for a 5- to 10-minute walk outside into some nature. If you don't plan your breaks, you'll end up taking unintentional breaks like surfing the internet because your brain is searching for relief. You'll end up needing a much longer break to recover.
Set your personal boundaries, so you have dedicated time to take care of yourself, your family or household, and your professional responsibilities. You won't be any good to your family if you regularly jump up to respond to work.
The key to success is deciding on expectations, then communicating those to others. You need to get clear in your mind what hours you will be attending to your work. Perhaps dedicate a space in your home as the "office," letting everyone know that you need privacy. Decide when you are "on" and when you are "off."
We all have tools in our pockets to help us.
Be less informed about the business outside your door. There is a point where bad news can wait.
It's essential to take a step back and think about what it means to stay informed. Consider only viewing trusted news sources instead of scrolling through social media. Try to create a list of positive headlines. When something good happens, take specific note of it.
The goal is to get the things you have to get done finished and spend more time on things that you want to do.
While everybody is busy doing to-do lists, you might find yourself feeling tired at the very thought of just starting such a list. Actually, this is quite understandable, as to-do list require effort and determination to be fulfilled. Done lists, on the other hand, can prove really useful, as they lead in an increase in self-confidence as well as a decrease in depression related emotions: while you do things, just add them to your list. As easy and as efficient as can get.
We all know for a fact that to-do lists are great: they enable you to be more organized while keeping track of your progress in the different fields. However, what is even greater is the combination of to-do tasks with the already accomplished ones. Creating done lists leads to an increase in self-confidence as well as making oneself feel satisfied with the current accomplishments.
It's a system to save us from our endless to-do lists, which can turn any job into a lifeless chore. It works on two principles:
Visualize your work and limit your total number of "works in progress."
Starting but not completing too many projects puts people at risk of the Zeigarnik effect, which states that people are better at remembering unfinished tasks than completed ones.