Whatever your job or business, good productivity is crucial to making it a success. Most professionals and business owners would like to see an improvement in this area, whether it is in their own productivity as an individual or in the productivity of their organization. With so many tools and techniques to help spur people and businesses on to greater results, it can really pay to have a look for productivity problems and solutions in what you are doing – even good performance can often be improved with a little analysis and work. Here are some tips for more productive working time, and you can sign up for our free newsletter below for even more tips for a life well lived.
Be logic and increase your productivity
It sounds a bit obvious, but many people, good, experienced people, tend to handle tasks in the order they got them or in the order they feel like doing them because they don’t take a moment to seriously analyze what they could do better. Their productivity suffers due to this. Getting into the habit of really, really thinking about what the most sensible way of tackling your to do list is can make a huge difference in productivity. You may find things that can be neatly slotted into gaps between conference calls, or things that can be dropped from the list altogether (which is always the fastest way to get a task off your list).
Keep the mood fast paced
Consider your mood and energy levels when you are working and make an effort to lift them, and with them the pace at which you are working. Play some energetic music, walk everywhere a little faster, read faster, type faster – obviously not at the expense of quality – but keep yourself aware of your pace and consciously pick it up when you notice it flagging. Just like smiling when you’re on the phone makes you sound and feel happier, trying to work faster and feel more energetic means that you will increase your productivity.
Small milestones increase productivity
If you are working on a large project or batch of work, set very specific milestones achievable within a reasonably short space of time, and closely monitor your progress against them. Do not do anything else until they are complete (such as take a break or begin another task – it may be unrealistic to expect that you won’t have to take a phone call or check your email, but stay as focused as you can). Your milestone could be something like completing 1000 words of a document you are working on – a subset of work that in itself isn’t too daunting to achieve easily in one go, but which is also a reasonably valuable achievement in terms of completing the larger project. Doing this gives you a sense of progress as well as making you focus on the task in hand and how long it is taking you.
Aside from breaking a big goal into smaller milestones, tight deadlines will do wonders for your productivity. Did it take an hour to write that last article? Try writing it in 50 minutes next time.
Identify and use unavoidable downtime
No matter how efficient or productive you are, or how punctual you are when it comes to arriving for meetings or making phone calls on time, there will always be situations throughout the day where something keeps you waiting. Anything from being kept on hold to the few minutes your computer takes to start up is time when you are stuck twiddling your thumbs, but you could be doing something else. These are not good times to consider as breaks, because you are frustrated and not taking proper relaxation time, so it is better to fill them with something useful and thus increase your productivity. Have an ongoing list of things that don’t take very long and which you can do anywhere (perhaps with the help of a smart phone or tablet), like perhaps articles you need to read or tweets you’d like to post, and get them done as soon as you find yourself in one of these dead times. For longer periods of down time, such as a flight or a train journey, make sure you have enough things you can be doing planned in advance to make as much of the time productive as possible.
Consider communication blackouts
We all know how important communication is, but with so many devices in most of our possession that can distract us from other tasks sometimes it is necessary to ignore communications for a planned period so something can be completed. Many people are terrified of being uncontactable, but if you plan it and limit it to only the time you need to get the task in hand done it can boost your productivity immensely. This is far less stressful for the habitual smart phone addict if you actually turn your devices off and forget about them while you complete your task (if you can’t face that, try airplane mode as a means of weaning yourself off). Do make sure you warn anyone particularly important who might need to contact you before you do this for more than an hour or so though, so there are no unpleasant surprises when you lift the blackout. If you have regular tasks that you can complete better without distraction, like you do a lot of writing, you could impose regular communication blackouts at set times in the day or week, so your clients, coworkers and contacts get used to them and you know you always have that time set aside for individual work.
Productivity through Delegation
The best thing you can do to increase productivity is to not do it at all. The second best thing is to delegate it to someone else. Not an option available to everybody, but if you can delegate work then assign it to someone you trust to get it done to your standards and then leave them to it. If you hassle them and chase them up constantly then that is two of you focused on that one task, and that is not efficient at all!
By looking at your working habits and trying to identify where time is wasted or not used as effectively as it could be, it is often surprising just how many tweaks can be made that can make you, and perhaps even your business as a whole more productive. It is about optimizing the use of time and becoming a smarter, more efficient worker rather than driving yourself into the ground to deliver superhuman amounts though, so be sure that in all that scheduling and prioritizing and striving for productivity there is room for the odd break!