Does your productivity ever get hampered by your desire to find the best possible solution? As you seek the easiest or fastest route to your goal, you may find yourself stopped entirely. Sometimes you may even do this on purpose, to keep from having to make a decision.
However, there's a work-around. Maybe you've heard of the term, "heuristic." Heuristics are rules that allow a solution to be found more quickly. With a heuristic, a resolution can be found even when the entire path isn't clear from the onset.
Try these behavioral heuristics to increase your productivity:
Choose the right time. Nearly everyone has times of the day when they are most effective and times when they tend to drag. It’s smart to schedule the most critical tasks for your most effective time of the day.
Get the bad stuff out of the way. Do the unpleasant items quickly and as early in the day as possible.
Set a goal each day (or night). In the morning, decide what you want to accomplish that day. This can be even more effective when planned the night before. Once you have a sense of direction, you can spend all your time getting things done!
Eliminate all communication. While you're working, turn off the phone / cell phone, and don't check your email. Hang a sign that says, "Do not disturb," if necessary. You don't have to do this for all your tasks, but at least do it during the more difficult items.
Batch similar tasks together. Do all your emailing at one time. Make all your phone calls at another. Open your snail mail during a set block of time. You'll waste less time by doing your work in this fashion.
Set a timer. Even if a task might take hours, starting will seem easier if you simply give yourself 30 minutes to get as much done as you can. A time limit seems to help many people concentrate and work better, too.
Set targets. For example, if you have to make cold-calls for your sales job, tell yourself that you're not getting up for any reason until you've made at least 100 calls. Regardless of what happens, refuse to stop until you hit your target.
Use the Pareto Principle. This principle states that 20% of the actions you could take will provide you with 80% of the benefits. So focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most. Unfortunately, these are frequently the tasks that are not enjoyable. You might be surprised how little you really have to do if you focus on the critical 20%.
Implement these heuristics into your life and you'll find yourself getting more done in less time. The ultimate secret is to stay on task and not waste any time. These rules will help you do just that.