It’s so easy to get distracted when you have tasks that need to be done and that can affect your productivity for the whole week. But how can you minimize distractions, maximize your week, and ensure you have a good work week? What do you do about how to have a productive week?
It doesn’t have to be hard. There are ways to plan your week out and ensure you get your most important things done. Focusing on the right things can ensure you keep on track and start knocking tasks off your to-do list.
In this article, I’m going to talk you through how to schedule a productive week and how to have a productive week by sticking to what you’ve planned.
Give this a try for a couple of months and you could soon be amazed at what a productive week you’re having on a regular basis.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King
1) Look at how you currently work
“Where your attention goes, your time goes.” – Idowu Koyenikan
Is this you? You start your day by checking your email, then have a quick check of Facebook, and before you know it, two hours have passed. Then you spend time looking at your task list and deciding what to do next, and the morning is almost over.
Spotting your bad habits and the things that you don’t need to be spending time on is the first step in how to have a productive week.
Before you can improve your productivity, you need to know how you currently work, so spend a week noting down everything you do each day, good or bad. This exercise really can be an eye-opener.
You can then go through your results and see what your time wasters are. And once you know what they are, it’s much simpler to do something about them.
2) Assess your tasks
The next step in how to have a successful week is to look at the tasks on your to-do list.
Do they really need doing? Can you delegate? Are you the best person to do them?
“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker
You might find that there are tasks on your to-do list that you put there weeks ago. If they’re still there, do they need doing? Be ruthless in going through your list and working out what has to be there.
Next, list your tasks by priority to make it easier to decide what to work on.
3) Plan your week on Sunday nights
You don’t have to use Sunday nights, of course. Some people prefer to plan the following week on Friday before they finish for the weekend. Others make it the first task they do on Monday morning.
Choose what works for you. Whenever you do it, you’ll find you have a much more productive week if you know what you need to achieve by the end of the week.
This is one of the most effective steps when learning how to maximize your week. It’s like setting goals. You need to think about what is achievable in the time you have, what is realistic, and how long each task will take. Always estimate more time than you think for each task and give yourself some room to breathe between tasks to allow for breaks and contingencies.
4) Three things
Choose just three things a day as priorities that you must get done. Any more than that is distracting and far too much. It doesn’t mean that you can only do those three things and most days you’ll get far more done than that. But choosing only three helps you focus on your absolute priorities for that day. It also ensures you’ll accomplish far more than you will if you overload your calendar.
You don’t want to have long lists of things you wanted to do on Monday carrying over to Tuesday and beyond because you crammed too many things on your calendar. That’s a great way for very little of importance to get done.
When you choose your tasks, don’t pick items that are too big. Your brain won’t be able to handle a large task and it will be tempting to put it off and do nothing.
For example, “Build the website” is far too big. Where do you even start with a task that size? Instead, break it down. Add “Install WordPress”, “Install security plugin”, and “Set up general settings” as your three main tasks for the day. It doesn’t mean that you won’t also create a site email address, pick your fonts and colors, and create some graphics on the same day. It just means that your three main tasks are small and manageable and extremely likely to get done.
Success breeds success. It’s highly motivating to keep ticking your priority tasks off your list, and you’ll find it helps you get through more each day.
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” – Tony Robbins
4) Minimize distractions
Close your email and check it only when you’ve done your three tasks. Try to reduce how many times you check it to just a couple of times a day. Don’t leave it open all day. It’s far too easy to get distracted by new email notifications and go down the email rabbit hole.
“As of 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 147 minutes per day, up from 145 minutes in the previous year.” – from Statista’s Daily social media usage worldwide 2012-2022.
If you can, turn off your phone and find a quiet room where you can focus. Keep open only what you need for your current task.
You can reduce distractions and focus more deeply to get through your priority tasks.
5) Focus on one thing at a time
Banish the idea of multitasking from your brain.
“What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.” – Susan Cain
A study found that 2.5% of the participants really could successfully multitask. Of course, what that means is that 97.5% were not successful with multitasking. That makes it quite unlikely that you will be great at multitasking. It’s possible, but do you really want to risk your productivity by trying it?
“2.5% of the sample showed absolutely no performance decrements with respect to performing single and dual tasks.” From Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability
Instead, pick up your next task and focus on it fully until it’s done. If you’re having trouble with that, take a look at your task. Is it too big? Could you break it down further to make it easier?
Try the Pomodoro method to help you focus on your tasks and get them done.
This works by setting a timer for twenty-five minutes. You then focus fully on one task for those twenty-five minutes, then have a five-minute break. If your task takes longer than twenty-five minutes, then use your next set of twenty-five minutes, and the next, until it’s done.
The idea of concentrating for a whole day can be overwhelming. And we’re human. We simply can’t do that. But the idea of concentrating for just twenty-five minutes is much more possible. And if you’d rather focus in twenty-minute stretches or fifteen-minute sessions, then do that. You’ve got to make this work for you.
7) Be okay with saying “no”
You can’t do everything. You’re not superhuman. And much though it’s tempting to say “yes” to everything, especially if you’re a people pleaser, you simply can’t. Not if you want to hit your deadlines and meet your goals.
Learn to say “no” and mean it and you will have a far more productive week.
8) Take regular breaks
You can’t work a full day without taking proper breaks. Or you can, but you’ll find yourself hitting a wall where you really can’t concentrate anymore after a while. It simply doesn’t do you any good to force yourself to work right through without breaks and lunch times.
“Don’t worry about breaks every 20 minutes ruining your focus on a task. Contrary to what I might have guessed, taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves your creativity and productivity. Skipping breaks, on the other hand, leads to stress and fatigue.” – Tom Rath
9) Be ready to adapt if needed
With the best will in the world, your carefully laid plans can be disrupted by an emergency or a new priority task that has to be done before all the rest. It isn’t something that can be helped, so you need to stay flexible and adaptable.
If you’ve done your plan as I suggested with space for breaks and contingencies, you may be able to fit your new task in and still finish everything else for the day.
However, you can only achieve so much in a day. If you can’t keep to your plan, then simply rejig it and adapt to make room for other things. You’ll still find you achieve a lot in just one week and you’ll still be fine with how to have a productive week if you keep to the steps I’ve outlined above.
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