Why does it occasionally seem as though we have no time to accomplish everything that we need to? Why do some people get so much done in such little time, but others struggle to increase their productivity?
Everybody has the same amount of hours in the day. The key to some people’s endless productivity is what they choose to do with them.
Ultimately, increasing your productivity at work isn’t difficult at all, but it all boils down to how you decide to manage your time. People who utilize their time doing only the most important things can see large changes in their productivity in short amounts of time.
Here are 10 simple but useful steps to help you make the most of your time and do more of what matters.
1. Get Good At Saying “No”
Just because you have the same amount of time as everybody else doesn’t mean you can, or should, use it doing what everybody else asks you to do. You will have to practice the art of saying “no” in order to make the best use of your time.
Warren Buffett puts it succinctly when he said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
The grounding logic behind saying no can be thought of in the following way: In marketing, they say that generalists are average. Most people try to be good at everything. The true power and demand, however, lies when a person becomes a specialist. In a similar way, only a few key activities you perform have the most impact on you and your productivity!
This rule is generally called “The Pareto Principle,” which states that 20% of your actions have 80% of the desired effects.
Saying “no” ensures that you can continue using your time to focus only on those key activities.
2. Set Deadlines
Deadlines are important because they are effectively the limitations you place on any certain activities you perform. Setting deadlines can help you increase productivity by forcing you to manage tasks more efficiently.
The only issue with self-imposed deadlines is that it can be easy to justify giving yourself an extension. When you are the one in power, you may find it easy to overrule your initial conditions. The important part about deadlines is that you must always follow them in order to become more productive.
You might find it amazing how much work you can get done when you are under the pretenses of a time-limit. Watching the clock in this way induces a sense of urgency, and will likely force you to focus on your tasks.
3. Stop Multitasking
Although many people believe that multitasking allows a single person to increase their productivity by focusing on many things at once, psychology says otherwise.
Psychologists have found that attempting to focus on many different things at once can actually slow your ability to complete those things (as opposed to pinpointing your focus on one task at a time). Ultimately, multitasking may do more harm than good.
Try to make it a habit to focus on only one thing at a time, doing so will increase your productivity as well as your commitment towards accomplishing that task.
Here is a related article that states that studies have found that multitasking can dip cognitive IQ by 15 points given certain tasks! To read the article, please click HERE!
4. Stop Striving For Perfection
Those of us who are perfectionists (me included) will know how difficult it is to leave a project unfinished or otherwise “imperfect.”
The issue with this, of course, is that we never think anything is good enough.
Perfectionists are known to do great work, but they have a very difficult time when trying to increase productivity.
In fact, one of the most common reasons that people quit blogging is because they attempt to make everything perfect before even launching their websites!
In our desire for perfection, we often lose sight of what is most important to accomplish. We begin to focus on tasks that we can continuously improve as opposed to tasks that make the biggest difference in our productivity.
Nothing will ever be perfect, it is important to realize this and become comfortable with what you believe is good work and move on from there.
5. Take Breaks
Although it may seem counter-intuitive towards increasing your own productivity, taking breaks is necessary to refresh your mind and improve your focus.
When I used to work in retail, I found it interesting just how much regular breaks were enforced (considering that more work meant more money for the company). It was until I read a study that mentioned that breaks were vital to increasing focus and workplace vitality that I understood.
Here is an article by Psychology Today that argues the same point, please click HERE to read it!
Ultimately, think of it this way: Have you ever been stuck dead-center in a problem and couldn’t see the solution? But perhaps the moment you took a break or let your mind wander, you suddenly came to an obvious conclusion? breaks work this way. It is the reason why we have so many great ideas in the shower, or right before falling asleep!
All in all, short breaks during extended tasks help us regulate and become more consistent with our energy, and with that, our ability to focus and think.
6. Take Advantage Of Your Down-Time
Whether it is a commute, the time just before a meeting, or any other spontaneous time you may find available, use it to your advantage.
Brainstorm or prepare what you will say during a meeting, write some emails and answer some inquiries, you could even plan out those self-imposed deadlines that we mentioned before!
Utilize any extra time you have to do something that will increase your productivity or prepare you to do so later in the day.
Here is a short list of daily moments in which you may find you have extra time to be more productive.
1. While eating breakfast.
2. Your commute to work.
3. Before lunch.
4. During lunch.
5. Mid-day break.
6. The commute home.
7. After Dinner.
8. Before bed.
Although I understand that nobody particularly likes taking work home with them, should you find yourself struggling to be more productive, you can use this time to plan out your days, prepare for presentations, or brainstorm solutions to common problems.
It has been proven time and time again that exercise has a direct link to your feelings of vitality, brainstorming power, and ability to focus. Not to mention the other benefits like increased life-span, healthier living, and increased confidence!
Exercise may be exactly what the doctor ordered to help you increase your workplace productivity.
Through the heightened confidence that exercise brings, you may begin on tasks that originally seemed frightening or intimidating to you (as it has helped me). Exercise also helps you focus and increases the energy with which you have to do more in your time.
Through exercise, you build a great resistance to stress, meaning that you can become more relaxed and efficient in your everyday life.
Ultimately, exercising for even a short amount of time can bring you increased levels of productivity, a happier life, and less stress as a result.
8. Avoid Distractions
Let’s face it, in today’s technology-based world with the power of instant connections and resources our productivity is certainly paying the price.
Data says that every time we receive a text or other message, we get a tiny shot of dopamine from our brains, meaning that things like social media and messaging can quickly become addictive to us.
The issue with this is in the inherent and ever-present distractions provided by today’s environment. One of the key ways to increase your productivity immediately is to quit social media or other non-essential media platforms that do little to provide true value.
If you so desire, you could make use of a combination of these tips to limit your time with social media or other tasks. For example, try setting a self-imposed time-limit on when you are allowed to check e-mails, social media, or other devices, and stick to it.
Forcing yourself to focus on other things (and hopefully, more important things) will gradually lessen the ability that social media and other communication channels have on your concentration.
9. Make Your Environment Inviting
I have personally felt the draining effects that a poor or uninspiring work environment has on my productivity. However, creating an inviting work environment is controlled by you and other people.
For example, any leader that creates a fearful environment sacrifices productivity and commitment from their team. There is only so much you can do, but here are some great tips that will help you create an inspiring environment.
Don’t be afraid to decorate. Adding decorations (such as plants, photos, or posters) is a great way to start. Essentially, anything that puts a smile on your face will make a difference because it creates an environment that is pleasing and relaxing for you. As we know, stressful environments do not necessarily generate good work.
Attempt to make your workspace relaxing and inviting, doing so is not only vital to your productivity but your job satisfaction as well!
10. Try The 2-Minute Rule
As amazingly simple as it sounds, the 2-minute rule is a great way to defeat procrastination for the little things and reduce the overwhelming nature of compounding tasks!
The 2-minute rule states that whenever you are faced with a task that will take 2 minutes or less, do it immediately.
You must be careful when using this rule! Often times people underestimate how long their tasks may take and they get sucked into something that may not be the best use of their time. Use the 2-minute rule for very small tasks, such as writing e-mails, answering short phone calls, and scheduling your day out!
Ultimately, these have been 10 tips that will help you increase your productivity in the workplace (or anywhere else, really). Make good use of them and you will notice the results immediately.
Most people will have forgotten some of these tips after moving away from this page, I highly recommend you write them down on a notebook and continuously look back to them to ensure that they are fresh in your mind and are being utilized daily.
Remember, the most important part is trying these tips out, we remember little of what we see and read, but lots of what we actively do and perform.
If you are struggling to make the most of your own productivity and may have some issues to work out in detail, please call me for a free consultation at this number (951) 833-2987 or click HERE to contact me.
Thank you for reading!