Leading a more productive life helps achieve your life goals faster, not only in business but in your personal life.
Increasing productivity gives clients a better service; ensures a better quality of life for our families; uplifts others less fortunate, and makes our lives more efficient and comfortable. Ultimately, we also want to feel our productivity has made the world a better place.
However, it is important to realize that our productivity can affect others. In our super-connected world one decision can affect many other people and as we mentioned in our Decision Making blog post decisions can have far-reaching effects. For example, long work hours can affect families negatively. On the other hand pushing yourself and your team to new heights of productivity can affect morale, relationships and even happiness - the outcome all depends on how increased productivity is tackled.
As a person highly focused on being productive, I’d like to share a few tips.
Today I want to share how working moment-to-moment increases productivity. Focus on the task at hand rather than the other ten tasks to be done. The days of multi-tasking are gone. By mono-tasking we concentrate fully on one task at a time, enabling a person to get through tasks quicker as you are not having to shift the brain constantly between tasks. My blog post Life Goals and KPI’s shows how to drive progress day by day with a clear action plan.
2 Eliminating distractions
When working on a computer or phone don’t have Facebook, Twitter, Email or other distractors running in the background. If people regularly drop by your office to chat hang a Do not Disturb sign on your door or at your desk so they know to leave you alone. Play familiar music, preferably instrumental at a low volume that doesn’t distract. Music helps with monotonous tasks, however, if you are really concentrating hard then it’s best to switch the music off.
3 Getting started
The hardest part of any task is getting started. It’s well to remember the words of Lao Tzu – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Once a task is started you’ll inevitably find the energy to complete it – it’s that initial first step that is the most difficult. Place the most frustrating or boring task first on your list of priorities for the day – once it’s done it’s a downhill run and you can enjoy the rest of the day. Delaying the task just contributes to higher stress levels as it’s at the back of your mind the whole day.
4 Project into the future
Before you start your onerous task set yourself rewards. “If I finish this task today I can go for an early surf tomorrow/take time out for a romantic dinner with my significant other.” If a picture pinned up next to your workstation of you surfing helps then use it - it’s like the dangling carrot to encourage you to persevere with the task in anticipation of the reward.
5 Using time limits
Depending on the task at hand, limit your time – give yourself 20 to 30 minutes for certain aspects. It will force you to compress more energy into less time. By engaging your brain and breaking down tasks into segments they become less monotonous.
6 Stop procrastinating
Procrastinating means you are putting your life on hold. Is that what you really want to do? Watch for statements like, “I’ll start getting fit tomorrow”, or “I’ll start eating healthy on Monday”. That means more dissatisfaction with your life NOW. Even if the action is small it’s still worth making the start because the small start made TODAY will motivate you for the next step.
7 Hire an assistant
If you are in the position to do this then hire someone to take care of the details, follow ups and routine tasks as well as remind you of tasks, leaving you free to get on with the more important projects.
8 Find your niche
If you find that you are routinely bored or frustrated by your job then maybe it is time to switch - either ask for redeployment to a different department or move to another company that better fits your interests and abilities. Don’t waste time being unproductive in a position that doesn’t suit you.
9 Learn to say No!
It’s easy to be too pleasant and allow people to take advantage. Often they ask questions without really thinking and waste your time. Encourage them to find answers online, from the correct department or expert. Also, don’t let negative people drain you. You have to let them go rather than be dragged down with them.
Focus on what you are good at and outsource the rest in your company – place the focus on what your company does well and use other experts – in the long run it just makes your company look more efficient than trying to do everything in-house. Hate house cleaning? Hire a cleaner. The extra time you can spend on more productive and better-paying work will take care of the cleaner’s wages.
11 Get fit
You may ask what this has to do with productivity but the fitter you are the better you are able to cope with tasks. Have short workouts morning and evening for optimum effect. Drink water instead of coffee and eat healthily to ensure you maintain peak performance levels throughout your day.
12 Use off peak times
Why follow the crowd? Plan your shopping, movie going and dinners out for off peak times. You’ll encounter less traffic getting there and within the venues you’ll gain better personal service, saving you plenty of time for other recreational activities and lowering frustration levels.
13 Routine rules!
Creating a routine is a habit of highly productive people. Many plan their day the night before. Following a set routine means giving yourself the breaks you need like going away from the desk for lunch or creating a break during which you walk and get your blood circulation going. A routine means assigning times to different tasks to keep you on track throughout the day.
Highly productive people live in de-cluttered environments – in the office and at home. The more mess the higher the stress level, as finding what you need becomes a nightmare. Take time out to de-clutter and organize for peak productivity.
15 Host stand up meetings
Encourage stand up meetings – people won’t be so eager to chat about inconsequential and off-topic matters once they start getting uncomfortable. It’ll shorten meeting times and ensure people get the salient points across quickly.
16 Use commute time
If it's a train, bus or plane then use the time to plan your day or week ahead; catch up on tasks or research matters of interest. If you are driving use the time to listen to interesting talks on developments in your field or record voice notes of tasks you need to follow up on. Driving is also a good time to reflect on what you have been doing, how it’s panning out and think of new ideas and solutions to problems.