Make Time for Productive Work

The hustle culture has sparked quite a debate among people who need to slot in activities throughout their day to feel productive—that doing more makes them one step ahead of the rest. And then, some people think a work-life balance ought to be a priority, calling hustling culture toxic.

There’s beauty in working hard but finding time to rest; constantly going on the go will deprive you of rest, recharge, and, eventually, burnout. 

What is Productivity?

Economics defines productivity as the output per unit of input, whether it’s labour, capital, or other resources—it’s how much work is done because of the investment of any of the above.

Being productive alone doesn’t guarantee you get everything done. When you’re in the ‘zone’, time often goes unaccounted for, and your only concern is finishing as much as possible, regardless of your work quality. As a result, you might even miss out on the most important thing you have to do and feel overwhelmed even before the day ends.

Making time for productive work

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to complete more in a day, especially when you have an overflowing work pile, but constantly racing against time makes you lose focus.

Instead of bulldozing through your work and whining about not having enough time, you can change how you do it by making time. Authors of Make Time, Knapp and Zeratsky explains by doing so allows you to choose what you want to focus on based on priority and channel your energy toward it. This approach helps you to be more intentional with how you spend your time.

How do you make time? 

1. Prioritise, not compromise.

Everything on your list screams equal importance, but must it be urgently completed? Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower once said: “I have two kinds of problems; the urgent and the important. The urgent aren’t important, and the important are never urgent.” To simplify this, excellent time management equates to being effective and efficient. We should spend time on important things, not just urgent ones—because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

First, write down all your tasks and then categorise them based on urgency and importance. This will help you be intentional and proactive as you navigate your day instead of multitasking.

2. A man with a plan

With planning, you won’t have to decide what you need to do next or what you should or could do. Before you start a new day, make it a habit to write down all your tasks and label them according to their priority and importance. Next, create time blocks for your task, breaks and a goal you want to achieve that same day—this will allow you to keep track of your progress.

Now that you’ve already defined your day’s parameters, you can focus on how you want to do it and get things done. Make time for breaks by taking a walk, or grabbing a healthy snack; sometimes, a change of scenery would also do wonders.

There may be scenarios when an unplanned task demands immediate attention; if it’s urgent and important, be flexible and rearrange accordingly.

3. Practice digital minimalism

We’re either heavily addicted or reliant on our mobile devices for convenience, information, and entertainment. Addiction often leads to distraction, yet it’s a no-brainer to throw away all your gadgets and live like a caveman.

Instead, redesign how you use technology; rather than having it control you, it’s time to take back control. Simplicity is key; a pen and paper might be all you need to plan your day instead of spending a half-hour moving tasks around for aesthetics on your computer.

Next, log out and remove all social media apps that get your fingers itching to pick up your phone, turn off notifications to prevent you from glancing at your screen every time it lights up and remove all open tabs on your computer from the day before.

Simple, effective tools that work from beginner to productivity expert.

#1: The Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro technique is widely known as a time management system that encourages people to work within the time set and not against it; it’s an excellent, easy-to-use tool for beginners. Choose a single, important task to focus on, set a timer for 25 minutes, and then take a five-minute break after.

#2: The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is used to organise tasks by urgency and importance, to name your priorities and determine what will potentially distract you. This powerful tool is known for its ability to minimise the stress of deadlines and help you be more intentional and efficient with your time.

#3 The Trident Method, template courtesy of Ali Abdaal

The Trident, a three-pronged time management method created by Ali Abdaal, doctor-turned-YouTuber productivity expert. You can break down your planning for the year, month, and day with a calendar. In a year’s plan, you get a bird’s eye view at first glance—what you want to achieve and complete throughout, such as a goal, new side project or even plan a trip.

Weekly plans let you plan your days systematically instead of having everything everywhere. Planning for the week keeps you from being overwhelmed.

Lastly, daily planning shows you what you’ll be focused on throughout the day. Make space for interruptible activities and personal life, then do your best to stick to it.

If you’re already doing a great job in managing your time and getting things done, keep it up. But if you think there’s still room for improvement, choose and experiment with tools that work best for you; there’s no one size fits all productivity system or tool, and if you need more time, make time.

Written by Destiny Goh
Marketing Communications Executive

Illustrations made with Canva