On a scale of one to 10, when you look at your to-do list, how overwhelmed do you feel?
If the answer is anything above a seven, it’s time to try a new tactic that will help you make more progress towards your goals in the least amount of time possible. Although this may sound impossible, it actually is possible using a tactic called microproductivity.
- What is microproductivity?
- Why does microproductivity work?
- How can microproductivity help?
- How to implement microproductivity into your workday
What is microproductivity?
Microproductivity is all about getting a long list of tasks or to-do list items accomplished quickly, which can be done by microtasking, otherwise known as breaking down a large task into a bunch of smaller ones.
The objective here is to remember that bite-sized tasks take less time and usually take less effort to complete.
To fully understand microproductivity, try thinking of it as training to run a marathon. You don’t start training by lacing up your shoes and running the entire 42.1 kilometers. You start small, and on day one, you might decide to run three instead.
Or, keeping with the fitness theme, maybe your workout routine for the day is to complete 100 lunges. While doing 100 lunges seems exhausting, it sounds more doable to accomplish five rounds of 20. And that’s microproductivity at work!
Keep track of action items
Knowing exactly what you need to do and when will help you stay on top of all your to-do’s. Try keeping all of your action items in one place to better organize your day.
Why does microproductivity work?
Not convinced microproductivity is for you? There are certain reasons you may want to consider giving it a try.
This strategy and way of going about tasks works for a few reasons. For starters, you’ll enjoy a series of quick wins, which releases dopamine in your brain while also reducing the amount of work left on your plate.
Whether you want to admit it or not, our brains are limited and can only focus on so many things at once. If you’re constantly diving head-first into monster tasks, chances are you’ll feel overwhelmed and eventually burn yourself out. It’s never a good idea to overwhelm our brains, which is why small to-do lists make it easier to complete one task at a time, from start to finish.
How can microproductivity help?
When implemented correctly, microproductivity can help reduce work stress and lessen the workload you face at the start of each day. For those who are goal oriented or love feeling a sense of accomplishment, microproductivity gives the feeling of constantly moving forward while also motivating you to move on to the next task on your to-do list.
It’s nice to see results fast, and getting more tasks done, no matter how small, allows you to feel like you’ve accomplished the goal you set for yourself.
Additionally, microproductivity can provide a regular dose of feedback. Instead of only getting feedback from your team or manager when one large task is complete, you can get positive reinforcement or constructive criticism once smaller tasks are finished. This feedback can be especially helpful to catch something small early on in the project lifecycle, instead of when one big project is already complete.
How to implement microproductivity into your workday
If microproductivity sounds like something you’re interested in implementing into your workday, consider these eight tips to get you started.
- Break large goals into micro-tasks
- Set and follow a schedule
- Time block
- Keep track of your progress
- Define clear goals
- Organize tasks by priority
- Limit distractions
- Ask for help
1 Break large goals into micro-tasks
The first step to being an expert in microproductivity is looking at your large goals and breaking them into micro-tasks. For example, let’s say your team has a goal of completely redesigning the website by the end of Q2. You could break this project into smaller, micro-tasks like:
- Decide on a color scheme
- Pick a font
- Choose new menu drop-down options
- Create content for the homepage
- Write eye-catching call-to-action’s
- Design a new About Us page
And so on. It can be a good reminder that the expectation isn’t to accomplish something monumental in one sitting. Instead, breaking down the task makes it possible to progress steadily without feeling overwhelmed or overly stressed.
This method can also be helpful if you’re a team lead or manager who needs to delegate tasks to the team. Each team member can be assigned a smaller task, so there’s no confusion about who is responsible for what.
2 Set and follow a schedule
Next, create a schedule or a timeline for yourself, and stick to it. When you commit to one or two micro-tasks as part of your daily routine, you set yourself up for success, and this schedule guarantees that you’ll make progress, even if it’s small!
It’s up to you to follow the schedule you make, and since it’s likely these tasks won’t take up too much time, even if something else comes up that you need to work on during the day, you can still dedicate a small portion of your schedule to the task you established for yourself. It’s important to hold yourself accountable to the schedule you’ve set, and remember that accomplishing just one of the micro-tasks puts you that much closer to achieving the big goal you’re wanting to achieve.
3 Time block
The process of time blocking can be extremely helpful, especially for extra busy days.
The time management method of time blocking works by organizing the work day into set chunks of time. Each block is dedicated to something specific, allowing you to stay focused on that task and nothing else. Time blocking also helps you to follow the schedule you set for yourself above.
Everyone’s time blocking may look different. For instance, if you’re at peak productivity before you eat lunch, you may time block “Deep Work” from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm. This chunk of time is when you’ll tackle something that needs your complete concentration. You may also decide to time block 30-45 minutes in the morning to go through and reply to emails and another 15 minutes at the end of the day to check on replies.
When time blocking, don’t forget to set aside time for breaks that vary from 10-15 minutes in length. And remember, not every day needs to be time blocked the same!
4 Keep track of your progress
One of the best parts about having a to-do list is being able to cross things off. No matter how many subtasks are on your plate for the day, week, or month, make sure to track your progress.
Plus, as you cross things off, you’ll get excited as you get closer and closer to completing a larger goal or project. Keeping track of your progress will also give you a better idea of how close you are to hitting deadlines and whether you should ask for an extension.
5 Define clear goals
For microproductivity to work, you need to clearly define what the end result, or goal, will look like. You should be as specific as possible and include things like deadlines to hit along the way and resources you may need as you go. Defining clear goals helps you get started and home in on what success will look like so you have an easier time breaking it all down.
6 Organize tasks by priority
Once the goal is defined, organize the subtasks by priority. This gives you an understanding of which action items need to be broken down into subtasks and tackled first. As you set a schedule and time block, make sure to put high-priority tasks on the list to get done first and leave lower-priority items for a later date. Alternatively, try organizing your tasks by a priority matrix and focus on what matters.
7 Limit distractions
We live in a world of constant distractions. So, to be a master of microproductivity, you’ll need to find ways to limit these distractions so they don’t throw you off course.
It’s in your best interest to turn off notifications that can be distracting on your work computer. Consider snoozing alerts from instant message applications, like Slack, and even close your email tab on your web browser so notifications don’t get you sidetracked.
It’s also best to do the same for your phone — either put notifications on Do Not Disturb or put your phone out of reach so you’re not tempted to check social media or respond to text messages. After all, the point of microproductivity is to remain laser focused on the task, and getting lots of notifications will only make that harder.
8 Ask for help
Even when using microproductivity, you can feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
If that’s something you’re experiencing, don’t be afraid to ask for help! See if a team member has the time or energy to take on a subtask or two. Sometimes, even a small task can take longer than you’d planned, or other things that need your immediate attention arise throughout the day.
Asking for help can be the difference between falling short of a deadline and finishing a project ahead of schedule.
Take baby steps!
To master the art of microproductivity, remember that even small progress is still progress. As you break down major goals or projects into smaller subtasks and work to cross them off your to-do list, you’ll likely find yourself getting closer to the finish line faster than you thought was possible.