Why We Need to Be More Productive
With things at work changing rapidly, we are either going to have to completely change how we do things by working from home or have to pick up more work if others are not available. Either way, finding ways to become more productive will be more important than ever.
We talk more in-depth about these and many more ideas to boost productivity in our Time Management Training course.
What is productivity really?
It depends largely on who you ask. Some suggest it's the rate at which something is produced. Others have a slightly different view.
Productivity often gets confused with being busy. The word produce is in the word productivity meaning it's about showing some kind of result of the investment in your time. If you have one of those days where you feel like you have been really busy but have nothing or little to show for it, you haven't been truly productive.
Not only is productivity about producing something, we also have to take the word quality into account. Producing lots of stuff that doesn't do what it should do, only means you have to do it again. This isn't good for overall productivity.
Being productive is about having something that does what it should do in the time that you have available to do it in. It's not about doing everything. It's about doing the right things.
14 Tips to Boost Your Productivity
Here are 14 top tips for helping you to stay productive during these challenging times:
- Use the Pomodoro Technique - If you've not heard of this technique before, the Pomodoro Technique suggests that you work for a period of time then take a short break. The original idea was to work for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break, but you may find it more useful to work for 55 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. You should set a timer to remind you to stop! In fact, this is where the theory gets its name from - a Tomato Shaped kitchen timer.
- Schedule Your Day - Rather than use a list, allocate time to the tasks that you aim to complete. Add blocks of time in a calendar, planner or diary and stick to it. Schedule in breaks and lunch too. Don't forget these, they are just as important as everything else.
- Pick Times to Look at Your Emails - You're breaking out into cold sweats now right! OK, this one might not work for everyone, but emails can become a major distraction. If you use the scheduling idea above then block out times in the day where you will look at and process email.
- Decide on Your 3 Most Important Tasks - What's the 3 most important things you MUST get done today. Write these down and no matter what happens, commit to at least getting those done.
- Prioritise - Prioritise based on importance (what's the value return or the consequences fended off to the business of each task). Work on the most important tasks first.
- Break Up Bigger Tasks - Break your bigger tasks into smaller more manageable tasks. This makes them easier to complete and you are much more likely to keep going onto the next task and the next.
- Avoid Short Tasks Distractors - Don't be sucked in by the 'it will only take 2 minutes to complete' thought. Tasks seldom only take 2 minutes. You also need to take into account that if the task interrupts you from doing something else, you then need to add on the time it takes to get back up to speed with where you are. 2-minute tasks in reality take 5-6 minutes.
- Build-in Routine - If some of your tasks are recurring then schedule for the same time each day/week/month. This way you mentally protect the time needed to do them and are much more likely to complete them.
- Group Task Categories Together - If you imagine wearing different hats - an email hat, a calls hat, a writing hat etc. Now, imagine yourself changing these hats every few minutes. Now, imagine those hats as mindset and concentration. It can become pretty exhausting to keep changing. Group your categories of tasks altogether and work on one group at a time.
- Plan Tomorrow Today - Spend the last 20 minutes of your day preparing for the first 3 hours of the next day. This can massively impact procrastination as you know exactly what you need to do.
- Don't Hit the Snooze Button - If you are working from home, it can become easy to get out of your normal routine. Hitting the snooze button can have a major impact on your levels of productivity.
- Give Everything a Deadline - Don't accept 'when you've got time' or 'as soon as possible'. Give everything a deadline and schedule tasks based on these deadlines.
- Have a Start and Finish Time - Make sure you know when your day ends. Don't allow things to sneak into your evening. Pick a time to stop and stick to it.
- Ask Questions to Check the Purpose - Make sure you know the reasons why you are doing tasks. It's much more difficult to prioritise if you don't understand the full reason behind the task.
Time Management Training Course
We talk more in-depth about these and many more ideas to boost productivity in our Time Management Training course. Our time management course is delivered in-person and as an online virtual training course.