Being more productive is an elusive goal many people have, be it in business or in their personal lives. To help you finally achieve this goal, we’ve put together some simple tips to follow that will skyrocket your productivity in no time at all. You’ll be surprised at all the things you’ll start getting done once you start acting on this advice.
You’ve probably heard this one before. And that’s because it’s so important. While doing several things at once may sound like it will help you get more things done faster, more often than not it leads to the opposite: Everything takes longer and often is not done as well. That’s because the vast majority of us can only really focus on one thing at a time.
Next time you find yourself interrupting a task to check your phone or e-mail, remember that you will probably lose more time getting back into what you were doing than you will gain by switching from one thing to another. Although it might be a hard habit to break, ditching multitasking will probably be one of the most rewarding things you can do in terms of productivity.
This is along the lines of the previous point. The fewer distractions you have around you, the less likely you are to interrupt your work and start doing something else. Because distractions can take a different form for everybody, look around your workplace and determine what is most likely to divert your attention.
Is it your phone or your e-mail? Then put it out of sight for the next hour or turn off notifications and only check in again after you’ve done your work. Maybe it’s the fact that people frequently come into your office to discuss projects? Schedule an appointment with them so you both can prepare for your talk and get as much done in the interim. If the noise in your office is bothering you, it might be a good idea to get noise canceling headphones. Even if you don’t always listen to music while you work, at least other noise is reduced that way.
Get Over Perfectionism
While doing your work well and to the best of your abilities should be a given and will bring good results, perfectionism can actually do the opposite. Often it will make you spend more time than necessary on a particular task and steal your focus from other items on your to-do list.
The key thing when trying to get over perfectionist tendencies is learning to identify when you are actually improving the work you’ve done and when you are wasting time on unnecessary tweaks and changes. Understanding this will help you let go and open up more time for other things that need to get done.
Find Your Best Time
It’s no secret that different people work well at different times of the day. To find out when you perform best, take a week or two to observe when you get the most done. It might be early in the morning when you are still alone at the office or right after lunch when you’ve just had an energizing meal. It could also be the other way around and you might feel tired after eating and only get your energy back in the afternoon or generally work better in the early evening.
By tracking your productivity for a few days, you can easily identify patterns of when you work best. Use this knowledge to schedule your tasks. Plan the most demanding ones for times you know you will be most productive and leave the easier ones for the other times of day. That way you will get the most out of your brain power, be able to get your toughest tasks done well and in less time and avoid losing your most productive times to mundane tasks.
Does that sound counterintuitive? The logical approach would suggest that in order to get more done, one should simply work more. The easiest way to do that is to skip breaks. But this has been shown to reduce productivity over time rather than increase it. By now, many studies have proved that taking breaks is essential to give your brain a rest, clear the slate and set you up for success when you tackle the next task.
How long should you go before taking a breather? That’s up to you. Some people can work highly concentrated for up to 90 minutes, others need a short intermission after 60 or 45 minutes. A method many professionals swear by is the Pomodoro approach by which you take a five-minute break after working for twenty minutes. Depending on your needs and the tasks you are working on, this can, of course, be customized.
The most important thing when taking breaks though is that you actually do take a break. This is not a time to scroll through social media or read your e-mails. It’s when you should get up, get a coffee or tea, go for a walk, chat with a colleague or undertake a short meditation… whatever works for you and takes your mind off work for a short time.