Living a simple lifestyle shouldn't end when you walk out your front door. When you bring simplicity to work with you, you'll reap the benefits in the form of less stress and more productivity. When you plan ahead and prioritize your tasks, you'll find it easier to reach your goals and spend more time doing the things that are really important to you.
Think Small to Get Big Results
When you want to make big changes, it pays off to start small. Mega job search site Monster.com notes that simple changes can bring sanity to your life, and that each small step brings you closer to getting rid of clutter, whether it's in your inbox or in your mind.
The fact is that almost everything you do is made up of multiple, small tasks. When you break down your big goals into navigable chunks, you reduce stress and make it easier to focus on the most important tasks.
Plan of Attack: You know the Passion Planner Roadmap? The process works for other things, too. Take each major project, figure out your first step and put that step on your schedule. It will help you align your immediate tasks with your long-term goals and focus on getting things done.
Schedule Your Routine Tasks to Make Sure You Get to Them
One of my biggest challenges as a freelance writer is remembering to send out invoices. If I don't do it, I don't get paid—but it's such a minor part of my job that it's easy to put it off until … oops! I needed that money last week and I haven't even asked for it. A few months back, I started scheduling an hour every week for the express purpose of sending out, or checking up on, all my invoices for the week. Result: my invoices go out, my money comes in and I can focus on my work because I'm not worrying about when I'll get paid.
Plan of Attack: Like it or not, there are some tasks that you must do every day (or once a week, or whatever), such as answering emails, tracking expenses, billing hours checking on clients — your list will vary based on your job, of course. The trick to managing these routine tasks is to make them part of your routine. Assign them a block of time and put them in your daily planner to free up your time for your other priorities.
Prioritize to Focus on the Most Important Things
LinkedIn's learning editor Paul Petrone shared one of the best answers I've seen to "what is productivity?" in a blog post on simplifying work life: productivity is not about checking off more things on your to-do list. It's about making sure the things on your to-do list are worth your time. When you evaluate everything you do over the course of a day, you might be amazed at how much time you're wasting on tasks that either don't need doing, or could be done just as easily by someone else. Prioritizing your tasks will keep you laser-focused on the things that are most important to you.
Plan of Attack: Each morning, pick the two most important tasks on your to-do list and get them done first. That will free up your afternoons for dealing with other tasks — and you won't find yourself facing a last-minute crush to finish that thing you should have done first thing in the morning.
Make Wellness a Priority to Stay in Top Form
Face it, no one is at their best when they're not feeling well. On a daily basis, that means making sure you're hydrated, fed and as stress-free as possible. There are things you can do throughout the day to help you stay on track and unstressed. For example, this article from Reader's Digest lists several, practically guaranteeing that you'll be more productive.
Plan of Attack: Add healthy snacks to your shopping list and stock a desk drawer with quick energizers to avoid midday slumps. Invest in a water bottle to keep by your side and set a timer to remind you to drink. Pepper your work day with short stretch breaks to keep your blood flowing and energy high. And work from a to-do list so you can applaud yourself for checking things off as you complete them.
Decluttering your workday to-do list is a lot easier than you think. When you organize like tasks into chunks, break down big tasks into small steps and put your priorities first, you'll naturally be more productive at work and less stressed overall. Pick just one of these tips and try it for a week. You'll love how much you get done.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working on Massachusetts. She writes frequently about health, wellness and lifestyle topics.