We begin most of our days with ambitious plans and the right intent. But even before we attempt to complete the first task in our chart, sudden meetings and email requests foil it all. However, with a smart strategy and prioritization, it’s still possible to protect your game-plan and make your days productive.

Following are a few tips that will help you stick to your morning plan and maximize your accomplishments in a day.

urgent vs important

Often it is the ‘urgent but not important’ tasks that worry us the most. Request from a colleague to schedule a meeting or responding to an FYI email keep us on a ‘reply mode’ through the day. Typically, the so called urgent work make us procrastinate the tasks that are important – ones which are high value but do not have deadlines like outlining strategic goals, long-term planning, brand building etc. One of the effective ways to get over this is applying the 2x2 matrix where you create separate lists of work that are urgent and ones that are important. In the four boxes comprising the matrix, the horizontal axis shows “urgency” and the vertical axis stands for “importance.” Categorizing your tasks in the appropriate box will help you determine if you are wasting time doing the wrong activities. 

deep thinking slots

In the rush to attend to those ad hoc requests that come our way in a day’s work, we often miss out on spending time in tasks that need deep thinking, reading and in-depth research. The best way is to allocate certain slots of time in a day for your intellectual work. Create your own fixed-schedule productivity slots where you divide time between working in uninterrupted stretches and taking short breaks for relaxation. Short breaks keep you from wearing out from extensive brain work.

managing versus making schedules

If you are someone who allows his/her day’s plan to get altered by unplanned meetings, calls and emails; you are probably merely managing your schedule.  Sudden interruptions, while unavoidable, may have cascading effects on your productivity by forcing you to frequently switch between tasks and contexts. The best way is to be creative and be a schedule maker. Make some smart predictions at the start of your day on the kind of meetings you expect to come up. Based on that calculation keep aside a time when you will work on your key project – may be during the early work hours or later in the day – when you are less likely to get disturbed. Take a call on how important it is to attend a meeting, and what are the ramifications if you excuse yourself out.

energy replenishing time

Take out time to replenish your energy so you can focus on your work with a rejuvenated force. Taking out time for some physical activities accompanied by mental relaxation effort such as meditation are a great way to replenish your energy. Writing daily diaries can help you vent out things you cannot share otherwise and hence lighten up your mood.  Joining some creative groups like art, dance, acting etc. help diverting mind and develop clear thinking. 

Essentially, making your day productive is about commitment and clear vision of what you need to achieve in a day. Strike a balance between managing day to day requests from your colleagues and your own time attending to the kind of tasks that need your undivided attention. After all, it is the long term projects that bring about the maximum learn and growth.