1. Plan ahead.

You need to write a blog post. Or hang on, answer that email. No, wait, there’s a new post that you have to check out. No, stop, there’s the client proposal to complete.

Sound familiar? Sometimes it feels like the workday is a never ending battle with chaos, with you scraping through by the skin of your teeth, getting part of the work done, and putting the rest off to tomorrow.

It’s usually a matter of planning ahead. And yes, the solution is really that simple. Sit down in the morning with a coffee, and write down the ten tasks that you need to do that day. If you’ve got 50 tasks, by the way, you’re doing something wrong. And you won’t get the done in any case. So write down the tasks that you WILL be able to achieve. If you manage more – excellent. But you will feel spectacular when at the end of the day you’ll have crossed those 10 tasks off your list, and you will have done the best possible job with them.

2. Size up your tasks

Your tasks aren’t all the same size. And by size I mean length of time it takes to do them – for instance, it takes very long to create a good client report, but only 5 minutes to phone up a prospective lead. Which is more important? That’s beside the point. Tasks that take you a long time should be marked with an L for large (or a number 10, or whatever system you are comfortable using). Medium tasks are marked ‘M’ and short tasks with ‘S’ for short, or small.

Once you have sized your tasks up, it helps you put things into perspective, and understand how to divide your day up into manageable chunks. It also helps you see if you have taken too much on yourself. If, for example, you find that you have 10 large tasks you might want to drop a few, and work on some medium tasks instead.

3. Stop and breathe.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. And not a very productive one at that. Continually working from task to task, without taking a breather or a coffee break, won’t help you get more done. It’ll probably mean that you’ll spend the hour after lunch staring into space, or reading the same line in your email again and again.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from work – remember, it isn’t the time that you work, it is the amount that you can get done. And when you take five minutes to let your brain cool off and think of something else for a bit, you’ll find that you have much more energy to bring back to the table when you are done, and probably have a few new ideas as well.

4. Don’t multitask.

People can’t multitask. No matter what you think, you aren’t multitasking. Instead, you are quickly switching from one task to another. And no matter what, that makes dealing with each task less efficient. You can’t write an email, stop in the middle of composing it, switch to writing a quote, quickly checking Business2Community for the latest posts, replying to a Facebook friend, go back to the email, remember you have to call the supplier company….

Have you managed to get anything done? Or have you only managed to get a little done from every task, and now you have to pick up your train of thought again?

In other words, when you get the urge to multitask, don’t. Concentrate on one task at a time, complete it, and then you can go on with the next one. You’ll find yourself doing more, and doing it better, in no time.