How to take the minimal approach to becoming more productive

The term ‘work smart, not hard’ has been thrown around for more than a decade now, but still people are confused as to what steps to take in order to do more in less time. Work has a tendency to pile up the further we progress in our careers, while deadlines remain as strict as they’ve ever been.

Getting headway in your work will win you the real commodity of our day; time. Money might make the world go round, but we all know that without time, money is pointless. So how can you get your work done and still retain enough time in your week to enjoy life?


Planning is half the battle

People who are flustered by a huge plethora of work often neglect the most important part of their working day; planning. Planning works as an investment in your time; i.e. the more you plan, the less you’ll have to work later. It’s a matter of knowing what to expect when the task comes up and having the strategy to deal with it effectively.

Take time at the start and end of every day to organize your tasks into manageable chunks that allow you to breathe in between. Once you’re finished a task, tick it off in your day planner. This gives you a sense of completion which enables you to focus on the next task with a clear mind.


Managing your time without anxious clock-watching

Having your tasks written down beside time segments helps you to get a fuller picture of all the work you have. Once you have this fuller picture, the day doesn’t seem as crammed anymore and your day is a lot easier to tackle.

It’s important to stick to your schedule. Failure to do so will invariably cause work to once again pile up into an unmanageable point. The best way to avoid this is to factor in reasonable breaks between your tasks so as not to burn yourself out.


Structure will keep you sane

No matter what industry you’re in, you need to work out a system that organizes your work in order of importance. The art of prioritizing has no set recipe. You will have to work out your own way of structuring tasks as they come in according to how important they are.

For inspiration, here are some ideas that have worked for others:

–          Colour coding: If your emails are filling up your inbox and you feel overwhelmed by them, consider a colour coding strategy. Red for urgent, orange for to-do, green for done, etc.

–          Piles: An overabundance of paper can fluster the best of us. Organize your documents into pile categories and watch how quickly your desk neatens and your work flows. Coloured paperclips can also make your tasks easier to identify.

Remember that a clear working area equals a clear thinking space. Your work will go faster—with minimal error—if you are in control and on top of every situation.


Let the time you’ll be saving motivate you to incorporate these methods into every day. Within no time, you’ll start noticing the difference: More time, less errors, and no reason to cut down on your workload.