4 Steps to Help You Be More Productive and Happy at Work!

When Multitasking Makes You Less Productive, Try This

I used to love multitasking.

I thought it would make me more productive and make me look superhuman, doing a little bit of this and little bit of that all at the same time, but the results proved otherwise: I was never getting anything done at the end of the day and was often frustrated.

Stanford University research also proved me wrong. Forbes carries a story about a University of London study that shows not only does multitasking make you less productive, it even makes you dumb!

Then, I ran into the GTD method. It sounded amazing and I have come up with a simplified version of it to help me be more productive and happy at work.

Here’s how I do it.

1. Think It

Businesswoman at desk
Be Happy and Productive at Work. Hero Images / Getty Images

First, you need to have a goal.

It can be anything from signing a business contract to holding a charity campaign. Or, it can be a company staff trip, like in my case.

I knew exactly what I want to achieve, so this was my destination. There was no need to worry about how to get there because I knew I would fill in the details later.

2. Empty It

Just like David Allen has said, your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.

Now you have done the easiest part, let’s move on to the next step: get all of your thoughts out of your head.

I knew most of our employees would like to visit Japan, bring their families and friends, see the beautiful maple leaves in the fall, try the famous Sanuki udon, etc., and I knew I must find a reasonable travel agency to help me.

You can use a pen or notebook to write the ideas down, or type them on TextEdit, Notepad or Google Docs. Or do what I did, use a simple note-taking web and mobile app like Evernote.

The nice thing about this free app is that whenever a thought comes to you, you can add it to your notes right away because it's available on all your devices. That way, you are less likely to miss an important detail, such as (on my project) checking if any of the staff were vegetarian or had allergies.

3. Break It

Next, put your ideas where they belong in the appropriate categories, and break them into actionable items.

Move away from note taking tasks to something that will help you do this. Task management tools, especially those with an unlimited number and levels of tasks like Quire, will come in handy now.

Looking at my notes, which were both messy and ugly, I made a list of tasks like 'Itinerary' with subsidiary (or child) tasks including 'What places to visit,' 'What restaurants to eat at' and 'What stores to shop at' in a project that I called 'Staff Trip 2015'.

While you are at it, you can add specifics like due date and tags for your tasks like 'Urgent' or 'Later'. This just helps remind you what should be done first. You can also reorder them any time if their priority changes.

4. Do It

Finally, it is time to get down to the specifics.

This is probably the most time-consuming step, where you will need to discuss, get outside help and complete each task before arriving at your destination - in my case, Narita Airport, in your case at the closure of whatever project you are working on.

For example, months before we landed at Narita Airport, we had to first discuss the itinerary between ourselves. I had broken this down in Step 3 and then I had to search to find the top travel agencies, have a discussion again about which one to work with, contact the agency and so on.

Fortunately, I could zoom in on a particular task or filter by due date and tag to stay focused using my task management tools, so I did not feel pressured or overwhelmed.

So, here I am, finishing this post with my television off, iTunes closed, and my mouth shut, while feeling good and proud of myself. You can be too.