Google productivity tips, and you will get 39 million results! Clearly, many of us struggle with productivity. I have not read all 39 million hits, but the ones that I have read offer similar suggestions. Here are 7 of the most useful tips I found in my quest to get more done in less time.
- Prep the night before. Create and prioritize a to-do list the night before so you can hit the ground running when you sit down to work. This helps you avoid spending the first few hours of your day figuring out what needs to get done and when. Keep a running to-do list so you can move incomplete items from the day before to your current day’s schedule. Don’t start your day until you have this list, so if you need to finish it in the morning, then get on it first thing.
- Start early. You don’t need to start working before dawn, but starting before the hustle and bustle begins can help you be more productive. Having 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time to check email or attack that project you have been procrastinating starting will increase your productivity.
- Use helpful tools. Take advantage of technology and use software or applications that can help you be more efficient. Task or project management systems can help you easily see the tasks that you need to deal with first, according to the deadline. Many of these tools offer time tracking, so you see how much time you spend on tasks and then make improvements for efficiency. Calendars can help you keep track of deadlines and meetings that you need to prep for. They also give you an overall view of your day so you can shift or delegate daily tasks that you will not be able to complete that day.
- Start with the dreaded task. If you set aside time first thing in the morning to deal with the one task you have been putting off, you can knock it out and get on with the other tasks. This will boost your productivity, and even if you accomplish nothing else for the rest of the day, you at least have that one accomplishment.
- Set deadlines. Don’t let deadlines sneak up on you. Schedule appointments with yourself to perform and complete each task. If you don’t finish within the set time, move on to another task or project and return to the incomplete one later. Chances are you will focus and complete the task or project if you have set a realistic timeframe for doing so. Also, for those tasks that might not have concrete deadlines set, make sure you know when your teammates or clients expect your work to be done.
- Focus on one thing at a time and block out distractions. Multi-tasking derails productivity as this recent article from WebMD explains http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/why-multitasking-isnt-efficient#1. If you are constantly interrupted by colleagues, put up a do-not-disturb sign. Turn off email and notifications. Or designate certain times of your day when you close your door so colleagues know you are in the middle of a project.
- Schedule time for certain tasks. Set time in your day for email, phone calls, and social media or even for conversations and brainstorming. This will allow you to finish projects and not get derailed by these other tasks.
I hope these tips help make your day more productive. I am always interested in learning new productivity tips, so please email me the ones that work well for you.
Image by: © Sergey Nivens – stock.adobe.com