How to Get Massive Amounts of Work Done on a Tight Schedule
Updated: Mar 27
Have you ever procrastinated to the point where there are not enough hours in the day to complete your work? Whether it is cramming for a test or completing a big paper within a couple of days (or hours), most of us have been in a situation in which we have to get an immense amount of work done in a short period of time. As a full-time student who also runs a business, I am accustomed to balancing quality of work with efficiency. Here are some of my tips for getting the most work done on a tight schedule.
1. Evaluate the amount of required work.
First, make a to-do list of all of your required tasks. Next, categorize your tasks based on their due date. If there are tasks that are due around the same time period, list them in order of importance, with your highest priority assignment at the top. After you have categorized your tasks, write them down and put the list in an easily accessible location. I highly suggest putting the list in your workspace to keep you motivated and on task while you are working.
2. Look over your schedule.
Put together a schedule that includes all of the activities that you must attend to from now to when the last item on your to-do list is due. This may include work, school, visiting family, exercising, eating, sleeping, etc. Making a schedule will help you determine exactly how much time you have to complete your tasks and will aid you in being efficient.
3. Map out specific steps for each task and the estimated amount of time needed to complete them.
This is the crucial step that many people leave out when planning out their schedules. Fill in the gaps of available time in your day/week with these tasks, and make sure to account for breaks. Scheduling in breaks (such as eating a snack, taking a walk, or petting an animal) will decrease fatigue and boost productivity. When you are planning your schedule, also keep in mind how your energy level fluctuates during the day. For example, if you are a morning person, you may want to schedule tasks that require more concentration (such as writing an essay), and plan to do easier tasks (for example sending emails) in the evening. Remember to always prioritize efficiency over the amount of time spent working.
4. Know your needs.
Many people tend to prioritize their work over their health (the classic all-nighter being one example). Do not fall into this trap. While you are working, make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, food, water, and exercise. Some may think not doing these things will give them more time to work, and although this might be true, the fatigue and hunger will surely cause you to become significantly inefficient. You will likely get more work done if you are in good health, so do yourself a favor and pay attention to your body.
5. Plan a reward for when you have FINALLY completed your to-do list.
As mentioned in past posts, having a reward at the finish line will keep you motivated as you are speeding through your to-do list. I highly suggest doing an activity that is brief yet meaningful (such as seeing a movie or going out to eat) that will allow you to rest and get back to work soon after. The last thing you want is to give yourself an extensive break, only to find that you have fallen behind and thus have to repeat this painful cycle yet again.
We are all -- at some point -- confronted with challenging tasks. When we feel the urge to run away from them, we have to remind ourselves that ignoring the work will not make it go away. Take control of your to-do list, otherwise your responsibilities will surely take control over you.