How to Be More Productive: I’ve been writing about being in the moment and being still. Now you’re going to think I’m losing it as I address ways of becoming more productive. You are getting a glimpse of what Melissa has to deal with! On a side note, while writing these words, I yielded to the distraction of watching vultures circling my neighbor’s house. It’s kind of creepy. I should heed my own advice regarding productivity!
Vultures aside, there is certainly a time and a place for focusing on being more productive. If you want to be more productive, it helps to understand how productive people think. As with anything new, it may take some time to become accustomed to this new approach for how to be more productive.
Productive people are clear about their priorities. It’s crucial to focus on the most important such as family and/or time sensitive matters. Create a list of tasks in order of importance and be sure to follow this list diligently. This list will provide some perspective. It can make you realize there may be certain items that aren’t really important to begin with. Additionally, creating a list of priorities can also help you identify potential tasks worthy of delegation.
We’re all guilty of procrastination. I used to put off the most unpleasant tasks such as doing taxes. Procrastinating made me less productive because the fear of doing taxes weighed on me and took up too much space in my head – affecting the completion of other tasks. I learned to complete the most difficult and unpleasant tasks first. This freed up my headspace and allowed me to enjoy the other tasks. I became more efficient.
Productive people schedule their next day at the end of the current work day. This makes it easy to jump right into work the next day without having to take time to decide what to do next.
They Take Action 1 Step at a Time
Productive people are not victims of “Analysis Paralysis.” They are decisive and act on their decisions swiftly but not recklessly.
Break Down Major Goals in to Smaller Tasks
There’s an old saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I’m not suggesting anyone eat an elephant, but you get the idea. Completing a series of smaller tasks adds up to reaching milestones.
Eliminate/Reduce Time Wasters
There are many things throughout the day which threaten productivity such as checking email and social media. Time wasters can also take the form of other human beings (chatty customers/coworkers). Your time is your property – protect it.
When I had my landscaping business, the homeowners would
talk incessantly as I stood there in 100 degree heat, kindly listening and
wondering if I would actually finish the job. I should have been more
assertive. Lesson learned.
Productive people will schedule specific hours of the day to check and respond to email and other inquiries. Make it whenever you wish, but make it the only time. Regarding the chatty coworkers and people in general, distance yourself from them or at least let them know that you can catch up with them during lunch or after work (assuming you want to be around these people!)
Learn from mistakes - quickly
When you’re working to be more productive, it helps to see mistakes as learning tools. Don’t allow mistakes to throw you off course. Use the mistake as a way of refocusing your efforts.
They Plan for Contingencies
Productive people anticipate future challenges and create systems and solutions before anything bad happens. They’re proactive rather than reactive.
Invest in Themselves
How to be more productive? Hone your current skills and continue to develop new ones. Self-improvement is always in style.
While we’re on the topic of focusing on one task or goal at a time, let’s talk about multitasking. Its easy to get distracted and try to work on multiple tasks, but the reality is, it makes you LESS productive.
Group similar tasks together
When we switch between tasks, we naturally create friction. Starting and stopping. Opening and closing. Beginning and ending. All of those small moments add up and break our concentration. Then we get distracted and forget why we even were reviewing something in the first place. But the way to cut down on switching between tasks is to group similar ones together. Don’t respond to just one email and then move on. Respond to all of them and then don’t come back until several hours later. Or batch all of your emails together.
Take Care of Physical and Mental Health
Sick people are typically unproductive. Lead a healthy lifestyle and your productivity will improve. It’s not rocket science!
Identify your personal work patterns
Tracking your time, even if no one is asking you for it can help you understand your work habits and the time of day when you finish work most successfully. This might actually hold the key to how to be more productive because learning from your patterns will allow you to focus on where you are (and aren’t) most productive.
Figure out your 2 peak hours
Some of us are morning people, some of us are night owls. With the modern business environment changing, there may be ways to accommodate your natural energy more than ever.
Throw stuff away and declutter
Did you know your physical environment impacts your work and productivity? And I don’t mean just if you work in a “cool” office or not. Depending on your company and your role in the company, that’s largely out of your control. You can control your workspace.
Find time to walk or exercise
I’ve worked in office parks, in downtown business districts, and from home. And in every place, I try to find time to walk at least once a day. That could be around the parking lot, down the street, or in the park, and it’s more refreshing than anything on social media.
…and reflect. When you’re responsible for getting multiple projects out the door, you have to take a step back and see what’s working, what’s not, what needs to be prioritized, and what needs to be changed. Building in time to review isn’t wasting time but optimizes your work moving forward.
For those that work in teams, this seems obvious. Using an automated project management system will notify you of the next task when it’s finished. But you may need accountability on everyday tasks too. Find someone you trust that will support you and not beat you up for your failure. You need an encourager.
If you’re prideful (like me!), you don’t like to ask for help on things you feel like you should be able to do. This manifests itself in my life by taking way too long trying to format an Excel sheet or create the perfect Powerpoint presentation. Instead, smart people ask for help, and they’re actually viewed by their colleagues as being smarter.
Now that more workers have shifted to remote environments, this productivity tip is more relevant than ever. You'll boost your productivity and alertness with more natural light. Why do you think offices with windows are in such high demand? It also affects the timing of the circadian clock which then impacts your wakefulness and fatigue.
This is kind of crazy, and you may not believe it, but sharing and looking at pictures of cute animal pictures actually increases attention spans and productivity. Don’t believe me? This is hardcore science. If you have a problem with this, then you have a problem with science itself - just kidding:)
Meditation and hypnosis are power tools when it comes to how to be more productive. How? In meditation and hypnosis, the amygdala (the worry wart in the brain) calms down so you optimize your pre-frontal cortex where all your "big thinking" happens. It's been show that people who regularly meditate or use hypnosis are more responsive, rather than reactive. Meditation and hypnosis go hand-in-hand with expanded creativity and problem-solving.
If you follow these rules, you should definitely be on your way to figuring out how to be more productive. It may not be easy at first, but get there you will. Now get to work! ~Ted