With the hustle and bustle of work, it can be very hard to focus your day on what’s important and manage tasks. Throughout the day you might have multiple supervisors and team members asking you to complete different tasks and claim each is a “priority.” If this sounds like your work life, try some of these scientifically proven methods to focus your brain and time to complete your work successfully!
Compartmentalize Your Time
You need time to do your work… you also need time to reflect, check emails, take a brain break, eat, etc. Make time to do these things in your day and assign them a time and a limit. And stick to it. Set a timer if you need to. Let others know of your “Do Not Disturb” time. Once you start to do this, you will find that your focus on that activity, whether work or contemplation, is more focused and productive.
This is not a productivity tool. Monotask – now that helps you get things done. Focus on one thing and then go on to the next. Again, set a timer, prioritize, keep your door shut and phone off if you need to, but only work on one thing at a time.
The 90-Minute Cycle
For most of us, the body is attuned to 90-minute increments. Research says that we naturally work in cycles of 90 minutes, where we’re better able to engage and focus. Then what happens, you may experience a 20-minute “brain drain,” where the focus is much harder and you accomplish little. That 20-minute block is a perfect time for a break, a snack, a conversation. This recharges you for the next 90 minutes!
The Two-Minute Rule
A simple and easy-to-follow rule. If something takes less than 2 minutes to accomplish, DO IT RIGHT THEN. Simple tasks can build up over time and turn into a major time drain. Do it now and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and be amazed at how you can manage tasks, and what you can get accomplished!
Hitting the Wall
If you’re working away, in the zone, and you suddenly feel like you have hit a wall, it is best to put away that task and work on another. Don’t fret and don’t force it. Sometimes rearranging the cells you are using on another task will bring the first task into better focus. Don’t constantly switch from task to task – if you are hitting the wall that often, there is something else going on – but occasionally, you need to refocus your brain.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Lists keep us on track. You need a way to reliably focus on what is important without portions of the work falling through the cracks. To do this, it is crucial for you to be able to remove tasks from your head and channel them into a list. Going into the new year, create a place to keep this list (a monthly calendar on your wall? A daily tickle file? A software solution?) and keep it in front of you. Microsoft To-Do is a convenient channel for people to manage tasks.
What kinds of Lists to Make?
There are several ways to make list-making work for you. And several types of lists to make!
- A Monthly plan
Usually this type of plan is a list of goals for the month. It can change as things come up and is a way to focus on the bigger picture.
- A Weekly plan
What hours you are working? How much time will be spent in meetings and other collaborations? Track these to see just how much time you have to accomplish the work in the week. Additionally, you should list items you need from others in order to get the work done. NOTE what HAS to be done!
- A Daily plan
This is a to-do list for that day. List it and then prioritize it. Note tasks that others are depending on to complete their work and what you need nudge coworkers about to complete yours. And if the task doesn’t align with your weekly list of what has to get done, don’t put it on the list.
As you complete a task on any of your lists, mark it off. As with all lists, part of the sense of accomplishment comes from shortening the list!
Use an App!
Focus your day on what’s important with Microsoft 365’s To Do App. Microsoft’s To Do app is a simple tool with big benefits. It is accessible from your phone, tablet, desktop, or browser, it lets you organize your tasks into multiple lists, and if you use the My Day feature your attention will be focused on what you need to get done today.
A great feature is its ability to share lists with others to collaborate. It integrates with other Microsoft apps like Outlook and Planner. The Bigger Brains To Do Essentials Course will get you up and running with all the basic information you need to start using the app. The course is taught by Microsoft 365 Office expert Chip Reaves who tells you why To Do is one of his favorite apps. By the end of this course, you will be able to use Microsoft’s To Do to get all your tasks out of your head and into an app that will help you stay organized and get more done!