One of the biggest productivity tips I can give you is to map your energy.
I first did this a couple of years ago and it was such a HUGE game-changer for me. It’s SUCH a simple thing to do and makes such an enormous difference, so I highly recommend you do this if you’re not already! Here’s how…
Everyone has different levels of energy throughout the day. Work out what yours are (these will be different for each person) and split these into three different categories:
1) HIGH / CREATIVE
When you feel most focused, energetic and imaginative, and tackle creative tasks with most ease
2) MODERATE / STEADY
When you can work in a focused, solid and productive way but don’t feel at your most creative
3) LOW / DISTRACTED
When you find it hard to concentrate, feel a bit foggy and tasks tend to take longer to complete
Now list ALL the tasks you have to do as part of your job – if you find it hard to think of everything, keep a piece of paper by your desk for a week and make a note of every task you do.
Different tasks require different levels of energy – again, this will be different for different people depending on their own skills, experience and preferences. Some people for example might find responding to emails fairly easy, while others find it takes a lot of energy and brain-power. Others might find anything financial takes a huge amount of concentration whilst others might find it quite simple.
For each task that you have to do, write next to it whether for you it requires high, moderate or low energy. Then, when you’re planning your day, DON’T just have a ‘to-do’ list of tasks that need to be done, that you tackle in whatever order you feel like.
Allocate specific tasks accordingly to a specific part of the day when your energy matches the energy required by that task.
It’s far easier if you get into the habit of doing this planning towards the end of the previous day, as otherwise if you leave it until the morning to work out what you’re going to do that same day, it’s far too easily to get immediately derailed and just tackle what feels easiest. Instead, take some time each day to map out what tasks you will complete the next day and in which specific time slot you’re going to tackle them.
For me, creative tasks like writing blog posts or emails such as this one, creating brochures, developing new products or systems and responding to some emails need me to have high levels of energy to be able to tackle them well, or at all. Stuff like editing, admin, simpler emails and social media only requires moderate energy and things like looking stuff up on the internet, ordering new stock and packaging stuff up only requires low energy.
The mistake I used to make was to do the low or moderate energy tasks first thing in the morning when I have high energy. It’s human nature to try to tackle the easy stuff first – which is why we never want to ‘eat the frog’. But this completely wasted my creative energy on stuff I really didn’t need it for.
Then later in the day when I’d done the easy/enjoyable stuff and it was time to tackle the trickier high-energy stuff, my energy levels had dipped and I just didn’t have the energetic or creative reserves to face tackling them. I was finding that I was consistently carrying over tasks from one day to the next, from one week to the next, from one month to the next.
So, for greater productivity, work out your own personal energy patterns, how much energy you need for the various tasks you have to do, then when you’re planning your day, allocate your tasks accordingly. You’ll get SO much more done!
So there are my top tips to help you map your energy! What tasks have you been trying to do at a time of day when you were most likely never going to feel able to tackle them? Are you going to switch anything around?
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