In today's busy, distracted workplaces, daily effectiveness often follows the 80/20 rule, known as the Pareto Principle. In other words, 80% of your time produces 20% of your planned output. Emails, meetings, phone calls, and other distractions occupy most of your time and energy. Important work goes untouched. Sound familiar?
Most of us would benefit from reversing that ratio, with 20% of our time producing 80% of our output. It is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Achieving more effective workdays is a function of planning and attention-management. Consider these simple strategies to revolutionize your daily effectiveness:
1. Take time to plan out your day and prioritize what you want to get done. Have a few goals for each day that you will complete. These goals come before non-urgent and non-important work.
2. Block out segments of time for important work and your goals AND block out segments of time for other work (emails, calls, etc). Save your most productive blocks of time (usually first thing in the morning) for the tasks that require the greatest mental focus. Save your least effective time for tasks that don't require much thinking (like checking routine emails).
3. Choose what you focus on carefully. If you are drafting an important email, answering the phone will not be the best use of your mental attention in that moment. Decide what takes priority in each moment, and stick to it until finished. Rethink what is truly urgent, and what just seems urgent in the moment.
4. Take mindful breaks and pauses throughout the day to find mental clarity and the space to reprioritize and refocus attention.
5. Take care of your mental and physical health (eat, sleep and exercise properly) so that you can function at your best every day.