Look, we get it… work isn’t always the most fun thing in the world. In fact, it can often be downright stressful - especially when distractions get in the way.
Fortunately for our sanity, there are plenty of ways to help reduce - or even eliminate - this stress. We’ll go over a few of those ways here.
Utilize Themed Days
This one comes from Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square. By assigning each day a “theme”, you can determine when a newly assigned task should be completed immediately and gotten out of the way, or currently labelled a distraction and rescheduled for the appropriate day.
Use Templates and Canned Responses
Templates are an incredibly efficient tool to leverage when there is a task that requires repetition. Instead of redoing everything each and every time, a template simplifies your task by pre-populating the majority of what you need to share, leaving just the pertinent details for you to add. Canned responses serve a similar purpose, with the omission of the added details. This makes them ideal for out-of-office notifications, alerts, and other generic communications. By committing some time to writing them once, you can create a library to draw from as needed.
OHIO - Only Handle It Once
How often do you touch a task, only to put it down to deal with it later? How much time do you think you waste doing so? Instead of partially starting a task, only to postpone it until later, follow the OHIO (Only Handle It Once) method and handle it then and there. This could mean completing a task, delegating it as needed, reporting to the right person, or divvying it up onto your to-do list.
Not everybody can do everything - in fact, nobody can. Therefore, you need to review your responsibilities and trim the fat, as it were. Take a look at your to-do list. If there’s an item on it that keeps getting pushed down, reconsider if that particular task is even necessary. The same can be especially true of meetings. While some can be very productive, many can be huge time sinks. This is especially true if attendees deviate from the agenda, if too much time was set aside for the meeting to take place, or if it isn’t really necessary at all.
Finally, returning to the to-do list for a moment, consider making yourself a to-don’t list. Is there a task that you have found to be too much trouble than it is worth? Add it to your to-don’t list and avoid doing that task if you can help it.
Cap Co-worker Interruptions
Regardless of how good their intentions were, your co-workers can very quickly and easily become your biggest distraction in the office. While you may not always want to miss out on Jim’s latest round of Dad jokes or the latest gossip that Cathy has dug up, there will be times that you can’t be interrupted. Using your office’s chat system to give your colleagues the notice not to disturb you (while putting on oversized headphones) can help to maintain your focus by politely eliminating these distractions.
Streamline Your Processes
There are always those tasks that take longer than they really should, that force you to sink your valuable time into them when you could really better use that time doing something else. Instead of simply repeating these kinds of tasks over and over, it may be worth your time to investigate alternative means of doing things. Perhaps collaborating with other departments to create a better solution is your best bet, or even turning to other companies for inspiration.
Avoid Being a Perfectionist (Unless You Have to Be)
Let’s review some of the side effects of general perfectionism:
- Unrealistic Expectations
Naturally, none of these are good things, but in some cases, they can help you accomplish a goal.
In some cases, that is. Perfectionism is a lofty and noble endeavor but is also one that needs to be resrved for the end of a project. Think of it this way - a typo is going to be much more serious in a project than in your email to your colleague discussing the status of the project.
What methods have you used in your office to help simplify your workday? Share them in the comments!