When your to-do list is miles long and deadlines are looming, it can be hard to tap into a creative, problem-solving mindset. Creating a more intentional approach to productivity will let you shift gears to not only cross items of your list, but to deliver higher quality, more effective work.
1. Keep a notebook and pen on hand at all times. When inspiration strikes is the best time to capture your ideas so you can include the context, references and other details that allow you to develop the concept more completely later on. Keeping all your thoughts and ideas locked up in your head can cloud your ability to dedicate your attention where it’s needed most. Transfer all that brain power to paper or a smart folio like Bamboo Spark, which allows you to export content to an app on your iOS or Android device with the touch of a button, freeing up brain power for more powerful inspirations.
2. Create to-do lists and prioritize tasks. Start each morning by reviewing what’s on deck for the day. Putting your list to paper frees your mind from trying to keep an ever-changing list of tasks straight. Categorize your to-dos and assign priorities to help you manage your time, and at the end of each day, take stock to cross off completed items, reprioritize those that remain and add new projects that will require your attention soon.
3. Give yourself permission to slow down and think. Technology has assuredly enabled greater efficiency at the office, but it brings some limitations as well. Sometimes, simply allowing yourself the time to sit with a pen and paper is the best way to let new ideas flow, free from the distractions of incoming mail and the confines of thoughts conveyed through keystrokes. Sketching, drawing, even creating diagrams and outlines are visual outlets that can help you explore new concepts and solve nagging problems. “I think that there’s always a benefit to taking a step back and trying to be mindful,” said entrepreneur John Gannon, CEO and co-founder of BEMAVEN. “Every morning I write a journal. I write about the things I’m thankful for, the things I have on my mind then I also generate 10 ideas a day. I decided to try the Bamboo Spark to have a more organic experience of actually putting pen to paper.”
4. Set boundaries on your multitasking. Today’s corporate culture rewards the greatest jugglers, but dividing your attention in too many directions can actually be counterproductive. Learn to designate times when you’ll simply eliminate interruptions to keep your focus sharp. This may mean turning off your notifications during meetings, shutting down your email for an hour each day to tackle a task uninterrupted or forwarding calls when you need to cut back on distractions.
5. Take regular breaks. It may seem unrealistic when the clock is ticking its way toward a deadline, but stepping away can actually help you regain focus and allow you to complete a difficult task more efficiently. Instead of staring at a blank screen in frustration, grant yourself a 10-minute break to get up, move around and grab a fresh cup of coffee or some water. A brief recharge can be just the cure to get you back on track when you hit a bump or start to feel overwhelmed.