With the fast evolving cyber revolution, hundreds of gadgets and online applications flood the market. They are supposed to increase productivity at the least time possible. There is general notion that productivity and organization go together so we surround ourselves with smartphones, electronic calendars, online apps, and other gadgets to keep us always on tract.
Unfortunately, for most people, these gadgets and apps become source of stress that gives the opposite result of being productive. They give the users the false hope that by using and depending on them, it is possible to achieve everything. Of course, this is an unrealistic goal. There is no way anyone is capable of accomplishing everything in a snap of a finger. This has become a great source of frustration to many.
The idea that you can get everything done all at once is the biggest myth in time management. To be better organized and reduce stress in your life, you can follow the following rather conventional tips:
Come up with an achievable To-Do list. Most often, this “To-Do” list ends up to be a “Did-Not-Do” list at the end of the day. This happens because you try to fit in everything in a single day. You depend so much on the gadgets that surround you. So you tend to bite off more than you can actually chew. Hence, you usually end the day with so many unfinished tasks that leave you frustrated.
Instead of coming up with a long list, learn to prioritize your tasks. Whittle down your list with the “must-do” tasks only, those with deadlines. By doing this, you will be left with only few of these tasks in your list. If you still have time left in a day, then you can work on one or two “non-essential” tasks. This way, there is a big chance that you will achieve what you set up to do and end up feeling satisfied rather than frustrated at the end of the day.
Avoid getting stressed over emails. Studies show that attending to emails eats up 28% of the working hours of an average worker. Many workers put their trust on some email apps that promise to “organize” their emails and achieve a zero inbox. They ask the user to create colour-coded labels classifying each message as “priority” or “important”. The problem with these apps is that more time is wasted in classifying messages just to stay on top of them.
The wiser and more practical thing to do is to use the built-in filters of your email programs. Filter out spams, advertisements, offers, and other nuisance emails. Set a time to attend on those you receive only twice a day at most. Since these are email messages, most do not need immediate replies. You can set a schedule for answering them. Better still, use an auto responder.
Let go. Stop keeping things in ship-shape order always. Although working in a clean and orderly environment is ideal, your workplace need not be immaculately clean unless you work in a hospital. When you involve yourself with too many details, you run out of time to attend to more productive tasks.
In your workplace, keep the area near or immediately in front of you neat and orderly every day. However, do not stress yourself straightening up the mess in the far corner of your office on a daily basis. Either you delegate that task to an office cleaner or attend to it only once a week.
At home, attend only on rooms that you actually use regularly. And regarding your car, leave the mess go unless you frequently have passengers.
Schedule thorough cleaning every few weeks but to do so every day is doing it a bit too far. When you do this, you quickly reach the point of diminishing returns. This is when you accomplish more of the unproductive things over those that bring in positive gains. You will notice that letting go a bit is quite liberating. Albert Einstein once commented, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign of?”
Get rid of too many calendars. So many sophisticated colour-coded electronic calendars have come up that are synced with multiple devices and equipped with automatic text reminders. But instead of making things easy for the user, these devices get out of control and cause unnecessary stress.
When it comes to keeping tracks of appointments and events, you do not need an electronic calendar at all. The old, reliable desktop calendar will be fine. In fact, it is better because the act of actually writing down on paper will improve your ability to remember things. It is a very good way to exercise your brain.
Avoid formal agenda in meetings. It may be helpful to come up with a plan but trying to stick to a written agenda can be a burden instead of help. It will force you to rush through some points that can otherwise be discussed in a free-wheeling meeting. Strict adherence to a formal agenda does not encourage productive exchange of ideas due to time constraints.
Automation is the magic word of the cyber era and rightly so. However, it has its limitation. Not everything new is as good as it seems. Use your discretion in using them. See to it that they do not stress you unnecessarily. They are made to serve you, not the other way round. Keep things simple so you can keep your blood pressure at a healthy level