How to get things done efficiently
Make thyself efficient:Whether you’re researching for exams, job hunting or building a secret laboratory, these ways to improve the way you use your time may help.
Everyone has been there: There’s something you have to do. It’s boring and hard work so you put it off. Unfortunately, one day your path is crossed with a task that just isn’t fun – but it does have to be done.
For tasks like these, efficiency is your new best friend. Less time working, and more time for friends/computer games/frolicking in meadows? Woohoo!
There are lots of tasks we put off – tidying, job hunting, researching courses. During exam revision especially, getting enough done seems like a mountainous task, and even the dullest thing can distract you. Funny-shaped clouds… the number of freckles on your arm… arranging your pencils in height order… .
But those pooky tasks still have to be done. Here are some handy hints for getting these jobs over and done with as painlessly as possible (and all without resorting to mind-bending drugs). Yay!
Step one: Getting things done
1. Write a to-do list that you can actually do
Bad to-do list: 1. Buy potatoes, 2. Check email, 3. Do coursework
Ok, it’s good for 1 and 2, but you’re never going to tick number 3 off that list. It’s just far too big a task. Break large tasks down into manageable chunks. For example, you could split ‘do coursework’ into research, decide a topic, write an introduction etc. Then when you do each one you can cross it off, and feel like you are actually getting somewhere!
2. Set yourself time goals
Having a good to-do list is only half the battle. You also need to make sure you don’t put it off. For this, look at each task and set yourself either a day to do it (for short tasks, e.g. shopping), or a set amount of time to work on it each day (for longer tasks, e.g. job-hunting). And for tasks with a deadline, make sure you know when it is, and set enough time each day to get it done.
3. Stick to your time goals!
Give yourself a little reward if you manage to do your set hours each day, (the big reward comes when you can cross the damn thing off your to-do list with big red pen and forget about it… happy times… )
Step two: Getting things done… efficiently
Check how efficient you are
When I was revising for exams, I thought I was doing a full day’s work. But I didn’t seem to be getting much done. One day I wrote down the times I stopped and started work, even if I just stopped for a couple of minutes. I found out I was only spending half the time I thought I was working!
So: As you work, make a time log. During your ‘work’ hours, write down the time every time you start and stop working. This includes everything: making tea, checking forums, staring out the window… Then at the end of the day, add up how much time you actually worked, and compare this to your ‘work’ hours.
If the numbers are similar; well done! You’re an efficiently busy little bee!
If not; you’re a bit inefficient. Sorry. Don’t worry – you certainly aren’t alone!
Tips to Improve efficiency
Work alone in a quiet room. Don’t have your phone with you. Take regular scheduled breaks. If you are using the computer/internet, make a new windows user account called ‘Work’ for work hours, and apply parental controls to it (using the guides below). In parental control settings you can block games, IM programs, and of course, the king of distractions: facebook.
Ok, this one may seem counter-productive. But this is the magic of efficiency.
For example; your time-log shows you’re inefficient – although you were ‘working’ for 5 hours, you only did 3 hours of actual work. So the next day only work for 4 hours, but try and make it all actual work. Because you know you have less time to get things done, you are likely to concentrate harder. Do a time-log again in a couple of days to make sure your time actually working hasn’t gone down from 3 hours. Hopefully it will have increased to the full 4 hours. Overall this gives you 1 more hour of free time, and 1 more hour of getting things done. Win-win!
If you want to get even more done per day, you can increase your work time, but do it gradually to try and keep the same high efficiency. There’s no point working for more hours if they are filled with pointless distractions!
Hopefully you can chuck that to-do list in the bin in no time – because everything on it has been ticked and done. Or at very least you’ll have more funtimes while it’s still around!
How to set up parental controls in vista:
How to set up parental controls in windows 7:
How to set up parental controls in XP:
See that girl having a bit of a nap when she ought to be doing a bit of work? That’s you, that is.