In this day and age, “productivity” has been the key word to achieving goals and successful performance. Why are we so obsessed with productivity, now more than ever? Well, it’s because in this digital age, it’s extremely harder to stay on track and to avoid distractions to accomplish the work you need to do for the day. Being able to get through a day with everything on your to-do list accomplished is also somewhat euphoric.
The search for a more productive work day has led to misconceptions. It’s not really about adding more to your to-do list. Productive people do not focus on doing more things, but they make it a point to do fewer things.
It’s a major productivity killer to start your day by checking your email and calendar. Instead, start your day by ignoring these things, getting a good breakfast or work out. Clear your head so that you’re ready to take on the day.
When you prioritize, you schedule the most important tasks on top of your list. This means you accomplish the most important and challenging things first. Knock out the most challenging task before lunchtime when your brain is still clear. If you have meetings or minor things to do, then save them for later. If you prioritize the most challenging task earlier on, you’ll be able to create a new and more productive way of managing your time.
Your will power can be fatigued from overuse. They say diets come undone in the evening, just as poor self-control and lapses in judgment. When you accomplish the most important tasks of the day in the morning with a fresh supply of willpower and energy, then you’ll be ready to tackle challenging tasks.
Productive people work smarter, instead of harder. Thus, you see them take more breaks. They know that the brain can suffer from fatigue from long hours of work. The dull ache in the brain signals you need to take a break. If you ignore this, you’ll just suffer from ineffective decision-making and you’ll actually work slower.
Give yourself a moment to refresh by going for a walk, grabbing lunch or a snack, or just meditating. Come back after you’ve recharged and are ready to achieve greater efficiency.
Following the 80/20 rule can help you grab the concept of working smarter. Only 20% of what you do each day produces 80% of your results. Eliminate the things that don’t matter during your work day in order to improve on your overall productivity.
You won’t get things done when you fit in a million things to do in a day.
Productive people cut their to-do lists in half. They eliminate the non-essentials and focus on the important things. Do you have 40 tasks on your to-do list? Cut down this list to the tasks that matter.
Actively manage time-wasters by identifying what takes up so much of your time each day. Is it social media? Is it the inability to say “No” to people? What sucks the precious time you have to get your work done? You can budget your time for urgent and important tasks. Make a conscious effort to limit non-supportive interactions throughout the work period that don’t energize you. Social media is a black hole for time and productivity, so stay away from them during work hours.
Another tip on managing productivity killers is to eliminate the need to have so many meetings. Limit the number of meetings you have in a week.
You can also improve your email etiquette. Email is a major productivity killer. It’s usually a distraction from tasks that actually matter. Don’t fall into this productivity trap. If your email chain goes beyond two replies, it’s time to pick up the phone and talk to the person directly, instead of through email.
You probably have a few systems in place. However, you need to evaluate if these systems are making your more productive or if it’s actually the other way around? Manage your distractions by creating a system. Do you check your email compulsively? Why don’t you plan an afternoon or evening slot, just to check your emails? Do you take up a whole morning planning for the day? Why don’t you set up one day in a week to plan the week, and simply adjust it as it goes. Ensure that your system will keep you focused and free from these distractions that keep you from accomplishing important goals for the day.
Stop multi-tasking. When you try to do 10 things at ones, you sacrifice the quality of the work you’re doing. Studies say that changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ by an average of 10 points. Start getting things done more effectively by focusing on one task at a time. There’s this “touch once” rule, like in the game of chess, wherein when you touch a piece, you have to move it. When it comes to your work day, when you touch a task, like going through a document or replying to an email, make sure you focus on this task until you complete it. It’s a major time waster to always have to go back to a task, just because you allow yourself to be interrupted.