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How To Juggle Multiple Tasks: Practical Methods to Implement

How To, ProductivityMichelle SonyaComment
 
 

The modern landscape of working as an independent entrepreneur necessitates the need for juggling multiple small tasks on a regular basis. Whether your tasks are of diverse nature, or are simply fragments of one single project, making sure you get to tick each task off your list at the end of each day can be quite a menace. Add to that the impediments such as distractions and procrastination, and you're always left with a pile of leftover work that you never seem to be able to crack down on.

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The solution to this problem mainly rests on two pillars - planning and delegation, and every productivity hack you'll ever learn with respect to this is related to this two-step process. The obligatory simplicity of its contents makes the promise of entrepreneurial success. Let's break them down into more detailed steps down below:

Have a system in place

The first and most important step in the planning process is having a structure to your work mechanism. Carefully planning each action ahead will help you micromanage your tasks with a much higher efficiency. Sticking to a routine, in which you know exactly when you do certain kinds of tasks during the day (leaving room for contingencies of course), also sets in motion an automated process. And as you'll often find, lots of smaller tasks don't need much deliberation and can be done almost automatically, like filing your documents, checking and answering emails, etc.

Make detailed plans

You might have heard this very often and rightly so. It is crucial to the successful completion of ANY task, small or big, to plan them in the most detailed manner possible, with timelines attached. Making vague plans like writing "Must do this" on your to-do is better than no plan at all. You should be able to quantify your tasks and goals in numbers. The same or similar strategies are a vital part of every successful individual's daily routine. This is the way to maintain the goal of utmost performance within your mind at a constant frequency.

Use planners and other helpful accessories

Using the right tools like planners, timers, sticky tags, etc. help keep your task list sorted, keep track of your progress and save you a lot of time. When juggling multiple smaller tasks instead of one big task, it is fairly easy to get confused and lost in the commotion. In turn, this potential confusion hinders your much-needed focus and determination, thus massively reducing the productive quality. The right accessories are not just helpful, they're absolutely essential to both the planning and the execution process of your work.

Use Pomodoro technique

This technique recommends the use of a timer set to (usually) 25-min blocks of time to complete individual tasks. This is a great productivity enhancer because the idea of time literally passing by makes you focus completely on the task and eliminate distractions. It also ensures your commitment to each task individually instead of multitasking, which can more often than not greatly hamper your productivity. Prolonged utilization of this performance technique results in unparalleled efficiency at completing individual assignments. 

Categorize and prioritize

Not all tasks are equally important. Categorize them into MITs ('most important tasks' of the day) and the rest, prioritizing the MITs and doing them first. Doing the least desirable tasks also helps with more effective goal-achievement, by letting you save preferred work for the remainder of your performance hours. The evident result of this strategy implies increased productivity and work quality in situations where it usually recedes.

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Hire a VA

The part about delegation. Know when you need help and accept it. You're not invincible and having a team is often more helpful than being a lone warrior. If you can't afford an office assistant straightaway (or don't have the office space), virtual assistants and remote employees are a convenient option. Besides having a helping hand, having an assistant will also help with your people skills, which are essential for success at whatever you do in life. If you plan on eventually expanding your business, this is a great way to grow the root of your employee tree. Business owners that start this way often make the right hiring choices almost from the very beginning.


Juggling multiple tasks is a simple enough challenge when you have the right plan to guide you and the right tools to execute it. At this point, you've officially been introduced to the duo of success. All of the required organizational effort, simplified into but two factors. Get both these things right and you'll be well on your way to a productive nirvana!


About the Author: Michelle Sonya
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Michelle is a recent computer science graduate from University of Maryland. Now living in Los Angeles, CA and loves it. When she is not writing code, she writes about fashion at her blog
https//www.thehifashionsite.com. Her other passions include art, 
history, running, yoga and the beach.

A4 vs US Letter: what's the difference?

How To, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials, Ultimate Planner GuideAlicia GraceComment
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One of the most frequently-asked questions I've seen is what the difference is between A4 and US Letter, so I wanted to clear the air with a cute infographic!

There isn't actually too much difference when it comes to printing, and if you're using my sheets, you'll find that you can print them on both sizes with no problem at all.

 Do you think this is useful? Share it with your friends on Pinterest!

Do you think this is useful? Share it with your friends on Pinterest!


If you're curious about other planner paper sizes, I have a guide just for you! Click here to see an infographic on planner sizes, and find out the differences between A4, A5, personal, pocket, and mini!


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4 Easy Ways to Reach Inbox Zero in 13 Minutes

Productivity, Life Hacks, How To, Tips & TricksAlicia GraceComment
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Inbox: ZERO. It’s an elusive number, but it’s possible to get your unread messages all the way down to 0. I see inbox 0 every other day, and even if I’m really busy, the most I’ll let my unread messages get to is 50. At least once a week, I’ll take a few minutes to cut these down to size.

I’ve read a lot of articles about email productivity, but none really use what I’m about to tell you. The methods in this post are free, practical, and really easy to use. Having a clear mind is so important to being productive and just general well-being, and a clean inbox is a step towards that. I’m here to help you tame the beast because it’s so amazing to declutter your digital life, and get the clean inbox that you deserve!

If this sounds exciting to you, read on for 3 really easy ways to give your inbox a new lease on life!

1. Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters

You’d be surprised at how much these clog up your inbox, so the first thing you want to do is plug the hole and stop more from flooding in!

Head on to Unroll.me - it’s a free service that will pull up all of your subscriptions so you can tick them off and unsubscribe, all in one go.

If you want to do this manually, Gmail has made this easier. Instead of searching for a tiny ‘unsubscribe’ button, there is now one right next to the sender’s email address. If it’s not there, click on the arrow next to your own email address (this should just read ‘me’) in the header of the email, and there will be an ‘unsubscribe’ button. It’s a statutory requirement to have an ‘unsubscribe’ button, so use your right! (And here using the word ‘statutory’ reminds me of that law essay I need to write, hmm.)

2. Delete unwanted emails

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need an email about a sale that ended last week sitting in my inbox.

Think of it this way: if a shoe brand emails you once a week about a sale, you’ll have 52 emails from them a year. Considering that you probably won’t need to read about sales that have already ended or new releases from last year, that’s at least 52 emails you can get rid of in one fell swoop per newsletter sender.

Find one of these emails, and copy the email address it’s coming from. Paste into the search bar so that all of the past emails from them pop up. Select all, delete, and watch your number of unread emails drop!

It’s such a satisfying feeling and is probably one of my favourite ways to do a quick email declutter!

3. Set up labels

I can’t tell you how much this has changed my life and made my emails so, so much easier to manage. I have 14 filters in my personal email address, and the one I make use of most is my ‘Newsletters’ filter (I think Gmail’s Social and Updates tabs are just really weird… though if you successfully use them, do let me know in the comments!).

To set up a new filter, go to your settings in Gmail, then Labels, and set up a few. I’d recommend starting with Newsletters, as that’s usually the bulk of emails. A few others I use are Personal, Ebay, and Paypal. For my business email, I have Orders, Resources, and Marketing to name a few. Basically, if you’re getting a lot of one type of email that you’d like to be able to sort through together, make a label for it.

Pro tip: you can assign different colours to labels! My favourite colour is pink, so all my Personal emails get a pink label. :)

4. Combine labels with filters

Now, it’s time for the exciting part with filters. By using this, you can set it so that every single email from Brand X gets marked as a Newsletter automatically, and you can even make sure it doesn’t even land in your main inbox or is marked as read immediately.

The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to filter emails as they come, or to select from existing messages. Whenever I get a new newsletter that hasn’t been labelled, I click ‘more’, then ‘filter messages like this’, which means that all emails from this sender will receive the instructions you’re about to give. Go ahead and click ‘create a new filter’.

This next page is where the exciting stuff happens. You can choose to archive all emails from this sender immediately (‘skip the inbox’), but the most important part is to apply a label. Make sure you also apply this filter to all previous emails from this sender with the little tick at the bottom.

Once you’re happy and have sent a nice number of emails into your Newsletter label, your number of unread emails should be on the decline. If you want a completely fresh start, you can always hit select all, and delete all these newsletters. Either way, they will no longer clutter your inbox.

You're all set!

Having a clean inbox is an ongoing process, and if you’ve reached the end of this article, congratulations! You’ve taken a big step. By implementing the methods I use, you can make your inbox automate and clean itself up


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How To Make An Effective To Do List

Life Hacks, Productivity, Tips & Tricks, How ToAlicia GraceComment

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a guest post on the Rebel Lux Design Studio blog by the very lovely Brittany on 11 Reasons Why You Need A To Do List, and I wanted to follow up by sharing some tips on how you can make an efficient to do list!

Without further ado, here are the tips and tricks that I have learned and experimented with over the years.

1. Be realistic in your goals

Set targets that you know you can achieve. If you know that you have a full day tomorrow and can only get one task done, then so be it. It’s better to do one thing and do it well than it is to try 10 things haphazardly or worse, leave them unchecked on your list and be overwhelmed by guilt. Ben Franklin can tell you all about how that can backfire.

There are a few ways in which you can set about being realistic, and one method is the 1-3-5 rule; that is, set 1 big task, 3 medium-sized ones, and 5 little ones.

2. Be ruthless

Because your time is valuable, and whilst you can do anything, you can’t do everything - at least not in one day! Seriously think about what is important and absolutely has to get done. Everything else should go into a brain dump list that you can refer to when you have time (or you can drop it off altogether).

3. Purge your list

At least once a week, take a few minutes to evaluate what you have done and what you didn’t do last week. Give yourself a pat on the back for what you accomplished, big or small, and ask why you didn’t complete the other tasks. If they were not important in the first place, can you leave them off your next list? If you were procrastinating, what could you do to make the task more appealing? Perhaps a small reward at the end of it?

4. Use the rollover method

This is a bit of an extension to  the previous list. Whenever you don't get to something on your list and still think it's still important, simply 'roll it over' to tomorrow's list.

While you certainly don't want to do this for like half your list, it's fine every now and then. Recognise that not everything needs to be done in one day, and give yourself some grace.

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5. Get a Personal Assistant (PA)!

You don’t have to shell out big bucks to get a PA or be a Fortune 500 CEO. You can be your own PA and be CEO of your life. Do this by making this as easy as possible for yourself. Need to call the insurance company? Write the number next to your task. Know that they only open for 2 hours today? Write that down. Doing this not only saves you time by ensuring that you don’t have to check somewhere else for the details, but makes the task a little simpler if the details are right there.

6. Make your tasks more manageable

Break them down into chunks. If I have to write an essay for example, my tasks would look like this:

  1. Read up on topic
  2. Write introduction
  3. Write body
  4. Write conclusion
  5. Re-read and edit essay
  6. Proofread and submit

Doing this may add a few lines to your list, but makes the whole project so much more manageable, and will help you plan out your time that much better. Had I written simply ‘write essay’, it would seem daunting, but breaking it down reminds me to take it one step at a time.

7. Start each task with a verb

Notice how each task above starts with an action word. Simply ‘essay’ is non-descriptive and doesn’t say much about what I have to do exactly.

Starting each task tells you exactly the actions you need to take, and studies have also shown that being more specific helps you be more productive.

8. Keep separate lists

Having ‘reply business inquiries’ next to ‘rearrange sock drawer’ can get plain confusing. Try to keep lists of your main tasks, or at least sectionalise your to do list or use different colours for each type of task. This means that you always know where you’re supposed to look for your next action.

9. Use paper

Writing things down on paper not only boosts your memory, but allows you to be creative with your lists, which is something an app, no paper how wonderfully designed, cannot offer.

Of course, you don’t have to pull out all the fancy washi if you don’t want to, but having a pretty to do list sure makes you want to look at it more.

10. Choose one method

You can have your to do list in your planner, on a sticky note, and in your phone, but be mindful to look at your list in the first place, and that all the things you do are on there.

My recommendation is to pick one method, and stick to it. If you’re new to making to do lists, try a new method each day (only one per day!) until you find one you can commit to.

11. Schedule your tasks

When this works, it works well. Try scheduling in your tasks and putting reminders so that you remember when you have to do them. For example, you may block off 10AM - 11AM for laundry, and 11:30AM - 1PM for your weekly meal prep.

This also ensures that you don’t over commit to things, as you always know how much time you have.

I would personally schedule in some ‘buffer time’ - a few minutes in between tasks, depending on what they are - so that if one task takes longer than expected, you don’t feel panicky the whole day about being behind schedule.

12. Have deadlines

There’s nothing worse than thinking something will only take an hour, and having it take up your entire morning/afternoon. To combat this, try setting a deadline: I will finish this essay by 3pm today.

I personally find this very helpful. If I simply say that I want to finish an essay today, I will end up taking the whole day to do it. But, if I actually have a set time and deadline, I will be motivated to move my butt and just get it done.

13. Put something fun on your list

If you to do list is full of not-so-exciting things, changing things up may be just the thing you need! If you put something nice on your list, like ‘eat chocolate cake’, or ‘paint my nails’ (‘nap’ is a favourite one!), it gives you motivation to finish the things before it so that you can get to that. And why shouldn’t ‘take a nap’ be a thing that you can check off?!

14. Write down things you have already done

We all have days that we feel we haven't done anything, and the truth is, you have. Write down things that you have done, even if they weren't on your original plan. And for those really bad days, 'get out of bed' and 'brush my teeth' absolutely do count as accomplishments. Write them down, and tick them off!

If you constantly find yourself doing unplanned tasks instead (and I'm not referring to the times when you're not feeling so well), you may want to write this on a separate list. This is so you can reflect and see if there is a pattern or reason why you're not doing things according to plan. It may be time to change your priorities.

15. Forgive yourself

This is very, very important. For all that your to do list, there is one thing that it is not, which is something to beat yourself up about.

Your to do list is a tool for productivity, so that you get things done and feel accomplished. Even if you haven’t crossed off everything on your to do list, know that it is okay. Let’s face it: there are days when not everything gets done. Some days, it may be because something unexpected pops up; on others, it may simply be because the sky is beautiful, and going for a nice long walk is a genuinely better choice than staying home and finishing up the laundry.

If you are having trouble with this, you may want to refer back to #X.

Again, because I really want you to remember this, it is okay to not do everything. You are a person. Don’t let the pressure of checking things off get in the way of your happiness.

Conclusion

A to do list is a tool to help you. What is most important is finding something that works for you, and the tips in this list are meant to help you find that. Some of these methods may work wonderfully for you, and some may not quite be right.

Either way, do try to experiment until something works for you, because the end result is worth it.

Found a helpful tip to make a more efficient to do list? Do share in the comments, or send me a message! You can also get in touch with me on Instagram.