How to Arrange Your Work to Do Everything

According to scientists from Harvard, Stanford and Carnegie, 85% of success at work depends on soft skills. The most important “soft skills” are planning and self-organization. We tell you about five practices that will help you get a lot done and still be productive and rested. These are basic principles of self-organization, but so effective.

Write Down Everything You Have to Do

When a computer has many tabs and programs open at the same time, it can slow down and work inefficiently. It’s the same with our brains.

According to a study by scientists at Harvard University, a person can hold about seven tasks in their head at once. Trying to constantly keep a multitude of tasks in short-term memory depletes our nervous system cells – we become distracted and inattentive, there are problems with sleep and memory.

To work effectively, you need to unload everything from your head that steals attention: thoughts of work tasks, household chores, plans for the evening. Try to write out all the tasks daily in a diary, notes in your phone or any task manager.

You don’t have to group them into lists right away. Just write out in a row whatever comes to mind, be it cooking a dinner or playing at It won’t take more than five minutes a day, but you’ll notice that thinking becomes easier.

Sort Tasks by Priority

Planning and prioritizing can help you achieve zen in your busy schedule. Psychology expert Brandon Smith found in his research that planning helps you get rid of obsessive thoughts about work and get a good rest after a day of work.

You don’t have to stick to some complicated system to plan things. Try simply dividing tasks into “urgent” and “non-urgent” – such sorting will help you understand what to do first.

If you can plan with deadlines in mind, add another criterion – “importance. It will help you prioritize things more carefully. For example, the matter may be non-urgent, but important: call your colleagues and discuss the project plan. The “important” criterion will help you not to put things off, but add them to the nearest window in your schedule.

To prioritize tasks, first write them down in one list. And then define a different priority for each, consisting of urgency and importance. Let’s use an example:

  1. Add an order button to the site – “urgent”, “important” (must be done first).
  2. Coordinate the prototype of the site – “not urgent”, “important” (can be deferred to the second half of the day).
  3. Arrange a meeting with a colleague – “not urgent”, “not important” (to be done if there is time).

Decompose the Tasks

Large tasks seem overwhelming and complex to us. We’re afraid to do them because we don’t know where to start. But if you break down a big task into many subtasks, it won’t seem so big anymore. It’s easy to tackle these small pieces one by one.

This technique is called decomposition: one heavy bag of groceries is much harder to carry than two smaller bags of the same groceries in both hands.

To decompose a task, break it up into a sequence of steps. For example, a frontend developer needs to add a feedback form to a website. At first glance, the task can be done quickly. But here’s what happens if you decompose it:

  1. Ask the designer for a layout of the form.
  2. Agree with the backend developer on what the server request-response will look like.
  3. Make all the elements of the form visible using HTML and CSS.
  4. Write code to process the user data and send it to the server.

It turns out that the execution of the task depends not only on the frontend developer, but also on the speed of the designer and the coordination with the backend. Now the task doesn’t seem so large and complex. It’s broken down into specific steps and it is clear where and how to start.

Get Rid of Distractions

If you want to improve your concentration, try one simple action – remove your phone from your desk.

According to scientists at the University of Texas, even if a smartphone is just lying around while you’re working, our cognitive abilities decline. Not to mention, it’s a great way to procrastinate because notifications from chats are an excuse to get away from a boring task.

If putting your phone away in another room doesn’t work, at least try turning off notifications. You can block messengers and social networks for the duration of work by using apps, like Stay Focused.

Another irritant for our brain is the variety of objects on our desktop: packages from sweets, scattered pens and notebooks, dirty cups and “necessary” things. Look at your desk and think about what you really need for work-and you’ll probably notice that half of it can be put away.

Plan Regular Vacations

It’s still necessary to have a rest, even if you are full of enthusiasm and are ready to work at night. The consequences of working without rest: rapid fatigue, reduced concentration, irascibility, headaches, and lack of interest in work and your favorite hobbies.

It’s unnecessary to go on a long vacation. To restore strength, you need to rest a little, but every day. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Take breaks during work. If it is difficult to control yourself, use the Pomodoro technique: set a timer for 30-40 minutes, work for this time, and then pause for 10 minutes. Figures may vary – rely on yourself.
  • Rest after work. Quality rest is not always meditation or sports. If you feel like watching a stupid show on YouTube, it will be just as useful a brain reset.
  • Get enough sleep. Trite, but important advice. An adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night to keep the brain productive and healthy.
  • Remember about physical activity. For example, a survey of civil servants in Australia found that employees who exercised several times during the day were less stressed.

If the word “sport” makes you reluctant, add at least daily walks to your schedule. The more reasons you have to walk, the better for your body and your overall condition. For example, go to the store not to the house next door, but walk to the one on the other block.

Sometimes even after a vacation we feel tired. The problem is that rest is often perceived as just another task. For example, we want to relax by walking in the park, and yet we set a goal of walking 5 kilometers.

Rest shouldn’t be just another achievement. Its essence is relaxation. If you decide to relax, don’t try to measure how effectively you spent your free time.