Definitely stop multitasking as much as you can:
- Plan your day in blocks. Don’t rely on keeping your calendar in your head. Set specific times for returning calls, answering emails, and doing other tasks.
- Allow for no more than three main tasks a day, but make only one your top priority. Work on your top priority item first thing in the morning, and do not work on anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, and then start on your next important task.
- Some tasks simply require more time. Break them into manageable steps and create milestones to completion. Allocate time to tasks you don’t like as well (No one likes them but they have to be done as well).
- Manage your interruptions. Keep a quick log showing who is making requests (via ping, email), and evaluate how urgent the requests are.
– The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off. Try different hours when there is nothing to distract you (like working on something creative early in the morning before your first meetings/calls).
– If you get an audible or visual alert when email come in, turn it off. This can help you avoid the temptation to check your inbox whenever you get a new mail.
– Set short deadlines. Give yourself half of the time you think you need to accomplish something. There is nothing like a deadline to keep things moving. And when things are moving fast, we can’t help but focus on only that task.
Train yourself and keep your mind organized
- Try meditation. There is plenty of options, one of them is guided meditations through mobile meditation apps to maximize convenience (for example Headspace which I use).
- Don’t be afraid to say “No”, when you have to. Do you HAVE to do everything?
- Use your resources. Can you delegate some of your tasks to your team? For sure you can, and you know what? They’ll be glad to help, because it demonstrates your trust in them.
- Schedule breaks for yourself. Utilize mobile and desktop apps to remind you to do so (for example Orzeszek Timer which I use).
- Stay active during the day. Stand up regularly throughout the day and stretch. Conduct a walking meeting or one-on-one with team members or take a 10 minute walking break outside on your own.
- Keep your Gratitude Journal and document your accomplishments. Reflect on the day and write down what you accomplished, what made you happy or you are proud of!
Recognize your bad habits
- Every time you go to check your email or take a call when you’re actually supposed to be doing something else, take a deep breath and resist the urge. Focus your attention back to what you’re supposed to be doing.
- Whenever you find yourself multitasking, stop. Take five minutes to sit quietly at your desk with your eyes closed. Even short breaks like this can refocus your mind, lower your stress level, and improve your concentration.
- There will be times when something urgent comes up and you can’t avoid interruptions. When you need to shift priorities, make a complete shift to focus your sole attention on the more urgent priority.