In this article, we’ll be looking at my simple 5 step guide to help you have a more productive day and smash that to do list! I always turn to these tried and trusted tips when I feel my productivity lagging. These 5 steps help me feel in control of my to do list and ultimately get more out of my day. I hope these help you as much as they have helped me!

Step 1: Define the tasks

  • Write down all the tasks that you need to complete this week. 

Step 2: Break the task into smaller parts 

  • The tasks alone might sound daunting but, if you break them into smaller parts, then your to do list will feel more manageable. 
  • Once you have broken the tasks into smaller parts, categorise them into ‘small’, ‘medium’ and ‘big’ jobs. The small jobs should take no more than 15 mins, the medium jobs should take no longer than 30 mins and the ‘big’ jobs should take up to an hour. 
  • Step 3: Create a schedule
  • Schedule the work for a specific time and stick to it. Be realistic about the time you need to complete everything – it’s better to over-estimate than underestimate, otherwise you will end up rushing and feeling overwhelmed. 

Step 4: Prepare for the tasks

  • Jot down how you will prepare yourself to work on the tasks
  • Eliminate distractions
  • List distractions you can eliminate before starting. For example, silencing your personal phone or working from a room without a TV.
  • Plan for unavoidable distractions
  • Prepare for situations such as a neighbour dropping by: If someone drops in, then I will say “Let me get back you later today after I’ve completed these tasks”.

Materials and supplies

  • List the items you will need to complete the task. I always find I need to write down ideas and reminders to myself on paper, but never have a pen to hand! You can save a lot of time before you start working, if you have all the materials you need to successfully complete the tasks to hand. 

Physical preparation 

  • Consider all the actions you will need to do in order to be ready to work on your tasks. 

Here are mine:

  • I am going to commit to a time to begin work and hold myself accountable.
  • Have a good breakfast and make myself a strong coffee before I get cracking on this task!
  • Open the window (I hate working in stuffy rooms!)
  • Ensure the room is well lit, so your eyes don’t get tired. 

I know this sounds quite simple but take some time to have a think about what you can do to create the optimal working environment for yourself. 

Step 5: Imagine the outcome

  • Many people underestimate the positive feelings that come from completing a task. Describe the benefits of completing the tasks and how you will feel as a result. 

As you can see, these are all very simple steps but ones we often neglect. Stopping to think and consider these makes for a more productive day and successful output.

Author: PA, Annie Reed