If you feel as though you’re doing more but getting less done, it may be because you’re still multitasking.
expert Stever Robbins may have put his finger on why: You like to multitask. “Just don’t expect to accomplish very much doing it,” he says.
Robbins has developed a system that can help you maintain concentration and do more in less time. Divide your life into “focus,” “admin” and “spirit” days.
1. Focus days require a strong emphasis on your core work, including strategy sessions, reviews of research and.
Stay focused on focus days. Even though you’ll have more concentrated time for critical projects, you still have to pay attention. Dedicate separate time for each topic. Ignore everything else—even if that means turning off the BlackBerry for two hours.
2. Admin days usually have lots of different content but similar, routine kinds of tasks, such as signing papers, returning phone calls and running errands.
Admin days require lots of picking things up and putting them down. They also involve organizing and setting your calendar. They rarely require deep thought. Group tasks so that paperwork is together, as are errands and appointments. Clue in your support staff about admin days so they will be ready.
3. Spirit days nurture the soul. Set them aside for friends and family, reading and reflection. They used to call these days “the weekend.”
Schedule slack time. Besides spirit days, you also need plain old slack time. Generally, it will be soaked up with small crises and spillover on projects. But schedule it strictly for slack. Don’t think of specific things to slot in, like your kids’ games or your routine fitness program. Those need to be scheduled separately.
If you feel it’s unrealistic to set aside a whole day for one type of task, start with half days. But it’s better to begin with whole admin days, and as you find you’re getting done sooner, add half-days of focus time—professional networking leaps to mind.
— Adapted from Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, Stever Robbins, St. Martin’s Griffin.