Don't be afraid to plan and do tasks
How to make your workday less stressful
Why does habitual thinking about planning and doing tasks increase your anxiety?
Reason 1: "Do as much as you can"
This mindset increases anxiety. Anxiety is breathing down the neck of people with overloaded to-do lists for the day. No wonder you find it impossible to do all the tasks by the evening. You put them off till tomorrow and add them to the tasks in another endless list.
Reason 2: "Plan and decide here and now"
Reason 3: "Do it all at the same time"
Sometimes you have to switch from one task to another every second. Thus, your fatigue grows and concentration decreases. Multitasking exhausts you and reduces your productivity.
How to change your approach to reduce anxiety
1. Don’t take more than your brain can hold.
To help not to overestimate your abilities, look at the situation metaphorically. Your working memory has a limited capacity. Researchers have found that a person can effectively process no more than 3−5 tasks a day. That is, in your brain, you only have a few slots per day in which you can put projects.
Within a project, there may be groups of smaller tasks. For example, a writer may have the project "Write an article". The project includes smaller tasks — collect material, prepare a draft, edit the introduction, etc. All of them are steps toward the main goal of the project — write an article. So, they are in one "slot". It would be a mistake to consider only work tasks while forgetting everyday life tasks which also take room inside your mind. It would be better to group all the tasks for the day into projects and see how many you have — if there are more than 3−5, it’s clear you should downsize your to-do list a bit.
2. Do not plan on the go
Another simple metaphor is that if you want a software program to work successfully, first you need to write it, and then run it. But it would be ridiculous to write it while trying to run it.
3. Do the most difficult and meaningful tasks first.
- At the beginning of the day, you have more energy and concentration, so you can finish a difficult task faster and more efficiently.
- If you start with small tasks, then there is a big risk of getting busy with them for a long time and at the end of the day you can’t find time and energy to do the priority tasks which will be a burden for you and cause anxiety in return.
- Having completed the most important tasks, you will get a powerful boost to your motivation, on the back of which it will be easier to finish the day productively. There is nothing more beautiful than the feeling that this is only lunch time and you have already finished the main thing, and after lunch you can continue to work with no fuss in a relaxed fashion.
4. Visualize milestones and progress
Visualization is a great way to reduce anxiety or that feeling of being lost in a bunch of tasks. They do not spin in your head but are displayed on the screen and you can check the list at any time. In addition, ticking the box next to a task is always nice and creates the atmosphere of a game.
5. Split tasks into categories and prioritize
- The most urgent tasks. They are the most important tasks at the moment and cannot be postponed in any way. It is better to deal with this group in the first place, to allocate the main and most productive time of the working day to it.
- Daily small tasks. These are your routine tasks that you can’t do without. For example, check mail, send documents, exchanging the messages in your work chats. It doesn’t take much time if you keep it under control and set aside a special time during the day when you can focus on them and quickly complete them one after the other.
- Irregular but important tasks. These are tasks that you have to do from time to time. These tasks do not require constant attention but make you worry that you might forget them. Make a separate list for such tasks, put reminders on those with dates, and just look through the rest from time to time keeping your finger on the pulse. This will help clear your head.
The closer December 31 comes, the longer the to-do list becomes. In order to get things done without rushing, it’s important to focus on only one task and devote all your time and attention to it — and that’s when the Pomodoro timer comes in handy, more than ever.Winter Novelties: Pomodoro Timer in the Mobile App