Don’t let your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner be ruined by thoughts of meetings that you still need to prepare for, the countless tasks you’ve let pile up, or the deadlines you’ve forgotten about until now. This time, actually leave your work at work. Get your to-do list in order with the right tools and techniques in advance, and you won’t have to worry about switching off and celebrating the day with your loved one.
It’s not a unique situation. You’re working so hard on a big project that you’ve let other important things fall to the wayside, telling yourself that you’ll make a mental note of each new task you’ve been given and come back to it later when you have more time.
But the truth is, you don’t – or at least, not until the last minute. You’ve failed to write them down (or you’ve lost the scrap of paper you wrote them on), and now it’s an hour before you’re meant to leave the office on February 14th, and you’re plagued with the sudden realization that you have a dozen urgent tasks that you need to do.
Sometimes, we all need to take work home with us. However, do it too often and your work-life balance can suffer, along with your personal relationships and mental well-being. Last year, ‘work stress’ was ranked the second most common reason for couples to experience marital strain in a survey conducted by Austrian law firm Slater and Gordon. The UK’s Mental Health Foundation also reports that when working long hours, 27% of employees feel depressed and 34% feel anxious.
Sadly, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is something that many of us struggle with – and not just on Valentine’s Day. According to a study, only one-third of British employees think they have managed to strike the right balance.
So, what can you do to tip the scales so they’re on an even level? Get on top of your workload. By prioritizing your task list effectively, you can wave goodbye to those pesky deadlines that creep up on you at the last minute, and instead focus on getting the right things done at the right time. This will ensure that no task gets forgotten or completed in a rush.
Here’s how you can organize your workload to ensure a better work-life balance – and just in time for Valentine’s Day too…
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload and keep losing track of the tasks you need to do, the first thing you should do is write them all down to give yourself some clarity. Though you might instantly want to reach for a notepad and a pen and start putting them in a list, creating a Mind Map of your tasks can be a far more effective way of jogging your memory.
This is because your Mind Map will begin with a central idea or concept, and have radiating branches (with additional ideas) that connect to other child branches. This encourages your brain to make associations between ideas, meaning the more tasks you add to your map, the more you remember to also make a note of.
When you’re done collating your to-dos, it can be handy to put them into a format that makes it easy to see what needs to be done at a glance. Placing this into a digital format using a work management tool (such as Ayoa) can be great for the forgetful type; you’ll never lose your to-do list as it will always be backed up.
It also gives you the ease of being able to add Due Dates and Reminders, and quickly move tasks around in order of importance and organize them into different projects or areas. For example, you could create a Task Board in Ayoa for tasks that are part of a specific marketing campaign, and one for your administrative tasks, such as attending meetings, paying invoices and emailing clients.
If you already have deadlines for your tasks, that’s great – make sure you make a note of them in whichever system you’re choosing to manage your workload, whether that’s your calendar, a Microsoft Word or Excel document, or dedicated task management software. However, to avoid the all-too-familiar situation of deadlines creeping up on you out of nowhere, make sure you set regular reminders to keep you on track. Simply schedule these reminders into your calendar – or if you’re an Ayoa user, you can add them directly to each task.
One of the secrets to being productive is doing the right things at the right time. This means that being able to prioritize your work is vital. Though this can be tricky if everything seems urgent, considering factors such as roughly how long each action will take to complete, what will bring the most value, and what will have the most negative consequences if it’s not completed sooner (rather than later) will certainly help you put them in order.
It can be easy to lose motivation if you don’t feel like you’re making progress quickly enough. This is especially true if you’re working on a big task or project spanning the course of a couple of weeks (or even months) as it will take you longer to reach the finish line. By keeping a record of your progress and celebrating ‘the small wins’, the end will always be in sight, and you’ll feel motivated to keep moving towards your end goal at full steam.
The simplest way to do this is to create a list of your completed tasks at the end of each day and month for you to look back on when you feel your drive taking a nosedive. You could even revisit your to-do list at the end of each day and add a note of what percentage of each task is now completed. If you manage your work in Ayoa, you can easily drag the percentage bar along for each task, allowing you to see at a glance how far away you are from completion.
It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – so not everything you’re working on should be finished in that time frame either. If you can feel your productivity waning, sometimes the best thing to do is to step away from the task at hand and come back to it later. In fact, a 2011 study concluded that prolonged attention to a single task can actually hinder performance.
So, instead of continuing to stare at that report that isn’t getting any more completed, move onto an entirely different task (such as sorting through your unread emails) or get up and step away from your desk – even if it’s just to make a coffee. We tend to get our best ideas when we’re relaxed, so don’t force it, and inspiration will soon come to you in spades.
Get your workload (and that vital work-life balance) in order, and enjoy your Valentine’s Day without stressing about your to-do list with Ayoa. Manage everything you’re working on in one place, assigning projects to specific Task Boards, and easily keep on top of your deadlines by charting your progress and setting Due Dates and Reminders for each and every task. Ready to get started? Sign up for free today.
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