5 Task List Hacks To Help You Get More Done

Neal Ellis Productivity • Project Management • 4 minute read

Have you ever had a day when you felt extra busy, but somehow nothing on your task list got done? Day-to-day distractions are an unavoidable reality for most of us, but there are some very effective tricks and strategies that can help. Here are 5 ways you can protect your productivity, and ensure you make progress on your task list.

Focus is precious

Your level of concentration makes a huge difference to your productivity. Despite what you might think, most people can't work at their peak while listening to music, or with office activity in the background.

Try to set aside distraction free time, and experiment to see what works for you - no music, a quiet space, or even earplugs. Distractions also come from our devices, the web, and an endless variety of alerts and notifications. When you need to focus, tame the distractions by turning Airplane mode on, for some solid interruption-free time.

Look for low-hanging fruit

If you know you only have a small amount of time available in a day, try to prioritize quicker tasks that you might be able to finish. If it's how you start the day, you'll be happy to get some work completed first thing, and might even be more motivated to start on the larger, difficult tasks later.

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Think outside the schedule

Getting things done is more important than staying synchronized like clockwork to a schedule. If you're a project manager or team leader, consider encouraging flexible schedules that might better accommodate the different times when people will be productive.

If you have leeway with your schedule, try shifting your work day a little earlier or later for some interruption-free time when there are fewer office distractions.

Minimum viable meetings  

Having a meeting is sometimes necessary. Often, it is not. If you're considering scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if a short email or collaborative task would be more effective to communicate the ideas and gather input.

If a decision must be reached or the topic is time sensitive, set a polite deadline for responses. People can reply throughout the day, the discussion will be automatically documented, and you can control when you're attending to input vs. working on your own tasks.

Make every day count

If you find yourself with a whole lot of unfinished or overdue tasks, it can be a sign that you failed to prioritize, got distracted or overloaded, or even just forgot. 

Make every day count with a micro checklist, but keep it realistic (1-2 essential tasks) and stay accountable to it. It will help ensure you make progress on your tasks even when you get busy with other unexpected work, and crossing at least one task off at the end of every day is a great feeling!

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