Want to be more productive? Try doing less

No matter how much we try to ‘wind down’ at the end of the year, it almost always ends up being a busy time. This year, perhaps even more so. Many people feel that they can relate to the term ‘multi-tasking’. It’s one of many time management strategies, and the idea that you can do multiple things at the same time. It can result in a mix of emotions, from productivity, overwhelm and being pleased that we feel able to juggle so many different plates.

But the reality is, this behavior makes us up to 40% less effective in both our jobs and our lives. It also increases the mental load – with 82% of workers feeling overworked and 43% losing their morale. It’a a concept that requires a lot of effort and is really hard to achieve. There are even many scientific studies that demonstrate that none of us can truly multi-task. If you try to do so, you actually get less done, feel more stressed and often don’t achieve the same results that you would if you were just focusing on one thing at a time.

We prefer to talk about ‘multi-shifting’ instead. It’s the idea that you can move from one task to another in quick succession. Research shows that multi-shifting can be considered a factor in engaging staff, with multi-shifters outperforming other staff by up to 202% (Business2Community, 2019). But how can we put multi-shifting into practice over this challenging time? With a little help from the Pomodoro Technique, we’ve rounded up a few time management strategies to get you started.

1. Prioritize

There is a wealth of research behind the practice of time management strategies. Essentially, effective time management boils down to three main areas: awareness of what can realistically be done in the time you have, arrangement of your goals, plans and schedules and adaptation of your time while you adjust to interruptions or changing priorities. Anybody can hone their time management strategies, regardless of their role in the organization. In fact, it’s one of the skills that most people choose to train through Lifeed, boosting efficacy by up to 31% (Lifeed, 2020). 

2. Work to a schedule

According to the University of Florida, 90-minute working periods boost performance and productivity. That means it’s important to accurately estimate how long each task will take you to complete. Your goals need to be achievable so you can keep ticking things off your to-do list. By working towards a goal in a shorter burst, you’ll also be able to take a quick wellbeing break to refresh your mind. That way, you can return to work more focused than if you had worked right through. And continuing to top up care for your personal wellbeing can increase overall productivity by up to 12%. It’s a win-win situation (Oswald, Proto and Sgroi, 2015).

3. Focus your time

24% of people admit it’s difficult to relax in their own time because they are thinking about work. On the other hand, 3 out of 4 workers admit they feel distracted when they’re on the job, whether it’s being distracted by co-workers, background noise or even meetings (Atlassian, 2020). So make sure your time at work really counts. Try using apps such as PomeDone, Focus Booster or Focus Keeper to block out distractions on your own devices, and try to keep meetings collaborative and on-point to make sure everyone is getting the most out of them.

4. Maximize your skills

Over the course of our research and observations, we’ve seen that we can optimize our work even more by using ‘transilience‘. It’s the idea that people can transfer resources and soft skills from one role to another in life. It increases their efficiency across the board. The results can be truly surprising, allowing us to discover our own talent. In fact, after honing this concept with Lifeed, 90% of users experience a better overall work-life synergy.

5. Reflect

The Pomodoro Technique is not just about completing the task in hand. It’s also about incorporating time to recap and reflect on the task itself. We often talk about the benefits of self-reflection in improving personal performance, and this particular technique helps you to naturally weave it into your working day. Our research shows that it boost efficacy. What’s more, it lowers your stress levels and boosts motivation by up to 90%.