Each morning, you start your workday with the intention of getting some heads-down time to finish all of those tasks that have been nagging at you for weeks. But by the end of the day, you still don’t have them done, the tasks carry over to the next day, and the cycle repeats itself. You can’t seem to make any progress between meetings because it’s not quite enough time to get in the zone and concentrate on finishing the tasks.
You wait until you can find the perfect time to get the tasks done in one sitting, but that perfect time never comes. Before you know it, deadlines are looming and you need to stay late for a few days to knock the tasks out. While you finally do meet the deadlines, this experience causes you to dread it every time you have a large project or a multitude of tasks accumulating on your to-do list.
You can develop a less stressful and more effective approach to completing projects and knocking items off your to-do list, even if you have to stop what you are doing for meetings. While a day when you have no meetings or a half a day of no meetings might be the best for finishing projects, you might not have this kind of day very often, so the best thing to do is to simply accept that you will have to get work done on days when meetings are happening and schedule your tasks accordingly.
Whatever tasks or projects you’re working on, try to split them up into smaller to-do items. Even if you’re only able to get one or two of these tasks completed during a 30-minute break between two meetings, that is still progress. When you come back to the project or task list later, you’ll see what you have accomplished and know what needs to be done next because you will have it all outlined.
You could also make room in your schedule and book uninterrupted time to complete tasks as recurring calendar items. For example, you could block out an hour or two each morning to get heads-down time, or you could book a couple two-hour blocks in the afternoon each week. People might still try to schedule meetings during that time, but you have to be firm with them and set boundaries.
Setting time aside isn’t enough. You also need to know exactly what you want to do during the scheduled time. One way to solve this is to only block out time on your calendar when a project is assigned to you and you know you’ll need time to work on it. For example, you might be assigned to work on a presentation, so you can block out three two-hour blocks in your calendar for the next two weeks in order to get the presentation work done. As soon as you become aware of a project or deadline, block out the time you need to get the work done, whether you need to write an article, create a social media presentation, or review resumes for a job opening.
Another effective way to block time out in your schedule to complete tasks is to review your to-do list and then prioritize all of the tasks on the list at the beginning of each work week. Once you’ve decided what your priorities are, put the tasks in open blocks on your schedule and this will give you a picture of what you can actually fit into your schedule and get done. If you work with a team of people, it might make more sense for you to collaborate with your team to determine what the priorities are for the week.
Once you sit down to work, look over the list of smaller, broken-up tasks to see what needs to be done. Accomplish those tasks and avoid checking your email during that time. Only check your email in the 10-15 minutes preceding your next meeting. Once you’re done with a task, cross it off or write an update if you made some progress but were not able to finish it for some reason.
Meetings are here to stay but you don’t need to let them wreak havoc on your workday. You can still get plenty of focused work done throughout the day, even if you have lots of meetings. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to having more productive days at work and pruning your to-do list.
If you want to spend less time planning meetings and free up time to get more work done, try using a meeting room booking system like Resource Central. Contact Add-On Products today to sign up for a free trial orfree online demo of Resource Central.