If you have a to-do list that’s as long as your arm, and it’s not getting any shorter, no matter how many tasks you try to accomplish – it’s time to change your strategy.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn about a time management technique that opens the ‘door’ to improved productivity.
To-do lists have several inherent flaws, according to a December 2018 report in the US-based business news website Harvard Business Review (HBR). Firstly, they overwhelm you with too many choices. Secondly, you’re likely to work on simpler tasks on your list, which are easier to complete. Thirdly, you’re rarely drawn to non-urgent tasks that may be incredibly beneficial for you, like setting time aside for learning a new skill. There’s also no context of time available, and they don’t have any way to ensure you’re committed.
One way to immediately make a positive impact to your productivity is by converting to-do lists into calendars – a system called timeboxing.
It was ranked as the most useful out of 100 productivity hacks, according to a 2018 study by US-based productivity consulting company Filtered.
Timeboxing in a calendar allows you to know exactly what task should be done, and when, so that you’re able to get the right thing done at the right time. It also helps you communicate and collaborate effectively.
If it’s a shared calendar, it becomes easier to collaborate and coordinate with colleagues, and to plan meetings with them. The calendar also gives you a comprehensive record of what you’ve done, so you can track your highs and lows, achievements and progress.
But perhaps most important of all, timeboxing puts you in the driver’s seat. An August 2015 report by the World Economic Forum found that autonomy or feeling in control was the biggest driver of happiness at work. Timeboxing allows you to decide what to do, when to do it, and helps you block out all distractions for those time periods so that you can get your work done. Once your task is complete, you can repeat it with the next one, over and over again, until productivity becomes a consistent routine.
It's also a great antidote spending excessive time on tasks. Do you ever spend two hours distractedly doing something that could have been done in a single, focused, time-boxed hour? Such practices stop with timeboxing since tasks are allotted to specific time durations – there’s finite time, and you must stick to it for optimal efficiency.