It was my college years, I was taking tough courses that I had never even heard of, and I was in the middle of my second semester when I realized that something had to change. I remember spending many nights sitting alone in my little room for hours studying for my exams.
I have to solve about twenty in one evening and for those who know; one was a night of differential equation problems that lasted for pages and then haunted me. Another was water chemistry nights that lasted for hours. The days were changing, but one thing remained constant — I was incredibly inefficient.
I was constantly crumpling the papers I had solved and throwing them into the trash can on one side of the room, I was starting the questions over and over again because I couldn’t answer them correctly. I was constantly distracted by notifications from my phone and of course social media, and the smells of cake or food that attracted me from the kitchen. After hours of frustration, I was too tired to think. I was working all the time, but the result was almost zero.
Let’s come to the present moment.
I work full-time for my family in the real world. Eventually, I started to be more productive, that is, to get results because I started to not value the quality of the time I used over the quantity.
Sometimes my 2-hour work is more productive than my all-day work.
Your time will be more productive as long as you follow the basic steps that I will share with you shortly. These are tried-and-true strategies that I use to optimize time, that is, to do more and more in less time, and to keep your business productive. If you don’t believe it, you can search for it online. But I think you should use your time efficiently and keep reading.
1. Make a to-do list and “do” it
This shouldn’t be your average list. First thing in the morning, you should write down everything you want to do during the day. Better yet, make the list the night before. If you can complete the first item on this list before going to sleep, it will be much more efficient. Do everything on this list the next day.
I even put my daily morning run and the shower I will take after my run on the list. Why? Because those are the first two things I know I’ll be able to handle, and crossing them out first thing in the morning always increases my motivation immensely.
Shall I give you a pro tip for later?
Start with the toughest task on the list and work your way up to the easier ones. Once you see the list that you have completed the most difficult tasks, the rest of the list will seem like a breeze to you.
2. Ask for help when you need it.
Repeatedly I have stuck with work-related problems and asking for help got me out of trouble. Just the other day, I had a problem with the #vlookup, that is, the vertical with its Turkish equivalent, the formula in an excel file. Your formula would reduce the work that I could do for hours in Excel to just 10 seconds. That’s why the formula should have worked. What happened after all? Again I tried for hours and failed. I sent the file to a friend who I know is better at Excel, and he sent it back to me in 10 seconds, correcting the formula.
Two full hours were wasted because I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. So learn from my simple mistake. Remind yourself that asking for help is always normal. Asking for help does not make you a bad employee. Asking for help makes you a smart person who knows how to use your time efficiently.
3. Take frequent breaks.
This may seem inefficient. But believe me, it is not.
I realized that this formula worked in my senior year of college. Until then, I had been working on my differential equations homework frequently for five hours. I remember spending hours trying to find the solution. Because they were grading the result in the exam, not the way to go.
In the end, I couldn’t solve most of the questions, I gave up and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up and found that within five minutes I had been able to solve many of the problems that had given me so much trouble the night before.
Recently I also woke up, write for 20 minutes, then take a short break of 5 minutes. Then, if my article is not finished, I will continue where I left off. If necessary, I transfer what I wrote to my blog, I share my article on various social media channels, then I take a break for 5 minutes again.
I’ve tried many times to write without a break, but it just makes me run fast and get tired quickly. It doesn’t make it to the finish line. So if you find that you’re losing focus or starting to struggle with your current job, try taking short breaks. Then you might even be surprised at how productive you are. Learn the #pomodoro technique on this.
While there are basic ways to optimize what you’re already doing, making it more efficient, the truth is that you still have to do it no matter what. No one else will do this for you.
Now take a big stretch, and get to work. Follow these simple strategies I’ve shared and you’ll be on your way to more productive workdays. Believe me, those days are much closer than you think, maybe tomorrow, maybe even closer than tomorrow.