We only have 24 hours in a day. Since time is a limited resource you need to make the most of your time every day. To increase your productivity you have two options – put in more hours or adopt smart techniques. If you are like me, you’ll go for the latter.
Increasing your productivity is not a complex process; however, you need to use your time more deliberately. Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology you can double or triple your productivity in no time.
Let’s get started! Here are a few simple tips to help:
1. Track and limit the time you spend on tasks
You may think you are good at gauging the amount of time that you spend on different tasks; however, research studies show that only 17% of people can accurately track the time they spend on different tasks. Using an app like Rescue Time will help you know how much time you are spending on different tasks including word processing, social media and email.
2. Prioritize the most important tasks
Focusing on the most important tasks every day will boost your productivity. If you look at your to-do list, you’ll notice that some tasks are more important than the rest. When you just focus on checking off tasks, you may fail to complete the most important tasks.
Plus, starting with simple tasks makes it easier for you to procrastinate.
Instead of spending a lot of time on less important tasks, take a few minutes every morning to prioritize your tasks. It’s better to complete two or three important tasks than ten less important tasks.
3. Cultivate deep work
On your to-do list you’ll find a mix of both simple and difficult tasks. If you want to complete difficult tasks quickly, you need to cultivate deep work. Difficult tasks require an insane focus. You cannot multitask your way to completing them. You have to devote serious mental effort and time to knock them out.
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport says that the skill of intense focus is becoming rare in our world today. Those who can master it will have an enormous advantage.
Here are a few ways to cultivate deep work:
- Schedule: You need to incorporate deep work into your schedule at the same time every day, ideally in the morning. Doing it at the same time every day will help you form the habit.
- Get comfortable with boredom: How can being bored increase your productivity? Deep work is not enjoyable most of the time. Boredom is what propels us to seek distractions. Avoid chatting or using social media platforms as a source of entertainment. Getting comfortable doing nothing is key.
- Avoid contact with others: Messages, phone calls and emails can be reduced by requesting people to research questions before contacting you. When you communicate with them, provide as much information as you can. The same applies to you. Minimizing back and forth messages will minimize distractions and help you cultivate deep work.
4. Keep a distraction list
With social media, emails and many other small things to do, it’s easy to get distracted while working. Distractions are the number one killers of productivity. It’s difficult to maintain efficient working habits with distractions around you. One of the best ways to reduce distractions is by keeping a distraction list.
Save this list on your computer or work file. Whenever a distraction pops up in your mind, write it down and continue with your work. This technique is powerful because distractions can interrupt your concentration. If you are focused on your work and suddenly get an idea or remember a bill that should be paid, write it down. These are important activities; however, you don’t have to do them immediately.
5. Break tasks into smaller manageable chunks
There are several reasons why people procrastinate. One of the main reasons is that their tasks seem difficult and scary. If you have complex tasks on your to-do list, tackling them can become challenging. You can avoid procrastination by breaking large tasks into smaller manageable chunks. Breaking down tasks enhances your clarity and makes it easier for you to complete them faster.
6. Take short breaks
Nobody can focus on a task for more than five hours straight. Research studies have shown that concentration starts to decline rapidly after 90 minutes of working. No matter how efficient your habits are, you cannot maintain a distraction-free focus for a long time.
That’s why you need to take short breaks regularly. All you need is 15-20 minutes to recharge. Whenever you take short breaks, remember to make them deliberate. It’s easy to justify a distraction when taking a break; however, if you fail to schedule break time you are going to get distracted. Scheduled breaks will improve your productivity and keep you fresh throughout the day.
7. Learn from others
One of the common challenges that highly productive people face is completing tasks quickly and effectively. When you are focused on speed, the chances of making mistakes increase. Highly productive people minimize this risk by learning and improving continuously, thus making excellent work intuitive.
Learning from other people’s mistakes and successes is also important. When something doesn’t work out, analyze your mistakes and look for ways to prevent them in the future. When you achieve your goals, figure out how and why you accomplished them. You need to celebrate your successes. When you take your time to learn from others you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and heartaches.
If you want to be the person who gets things done, you need to embrace these productivity tips. You don’t have to multitask or work longer to improve your productivity. Create a to-do list, prioritize your activities, take short breaks, and most importantly, learn from yourself and others. Figuring out why you succeed or fail will help you avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.