People often struggle with dwindling productivity from time to time. Stress, distractions, lack of interest, poor diet, sleep deprivation, and many more factors directly or indirectly affect your productivity. This shouldn’t raise any alarms as it’s totally natural. But when should it become a matter of concern? Well, when it becomes chronic, starts impacting your performance, and generally decreases the quality of your life.
Not all is doom and gloom though, because you can definitely do things to improve your productivity. What does it take, you ask? Well, let us tell you - you can knock things out of the park if you’re just willing to make minor adjustments and sacrifices to your habit. Sticking to your current behavior hoping that things will magically change one day will not work. It won’t, believe it or not. Nothing will change unless you do something about it.
So, if you want to be more productive, you should be prepared to make some lifestyle changes. This article discusses 30 useful tips that may come in handy as you set on your journey to revive your productivity. We assure you, the benefits of improved performance will reflect in not just your professional but also your personal and social life. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and explore different ways to boost your productivity.
1. Avoid Procrastination
Do you often have a piling list of tasks but find yourself unable to get to it? Well, it is a cause of much mental distress for many people. In common parlance, this is known as procrastination. You might know the feeling, if not the name. Procrastination refers to the inability or lack of motivation to get started with something or the task at hand.
People often rely on the clock to strike a specific time before commencing work. For instance, you might choose to start working at sharp 8:30. But if you arrive at work by 8.15, you might put off tasks because the golden hour to begin working is yet to arrive (apparently). Now, you check random group messages to pass those spare time. One of the messages could direct you to a random video on the internet which will later give you the recommendation to watch the next, and the next, and the next.
The rest of the narrative is well-known to you. The vicious loop continues indefinitely. The point we are trying to impart is this: do not wait for the clock to strike a certain time for you to do what needs to be done. Just do it. Now is the time to start that task you have been putting off. Don’t get tricked by your clock - gear up from this very moment and you will clear that to-do list without fail.
2. Make a Clear To-do list
People love making lists. Whether it is a big task or a small one, they want to enter it into a list. Now, that, in and of itself, is not a bad habit. Rather, we would recommend you to regularly update the contents of your to-do list — no matter how small or insignificant those things may be, just put them in if it makes you remember them.
But take note: when you start spending more time preparing lists than actually taking actionable steps to clear off the items from your list, it is a certain sign of trouble! A never-ending to-do list is a nightmare for your productivity. The mere concept of the number of unfinished tasks makes your work even more challenging.
So start getting things in control. If you start getting sucked in by the activity of maintaining lists, take a step back and regain control. One thing you can do is keep a clear to-do list. If you have a lot of pending tasks, split them into more and less important ones. The structure that lists like a pro! With the items all sorted out, you can prioritize and channel your energy in the right direction. As a result, you can focus on the tasks that require immediate attention, parking the insignificant ones for later.
3. Keep Your Meetings Productive
If you’re a working professional, we are sure you spend a significant amount of time in meetings. According to research, most employees attend at least 8 meetings per week, with the number increasing with seniority. But how many of those are actually productive? Hence, it’s highly recommended to keep your meeting agenda clear, and the meeting itself short and sweet, in order to achieve more.
Every meeting must:
- Discuss ideas alongside an implementation plan
- Provide actionable insights that lead to change
- Discuss action items and tracks progress over time using the KPIs
If a meeting fails to accomplish the aforesaid goals, it’s highly likely that the meeting will be counterproductive. Instead of spending time discussing things endlessly, it is better to get to work. Any hurdles that arise can be overcome in due time. The bottom line being, the less time you waste in ineffective meetings, the more productive you will be!
4. Don’t Transition from One Task to Another
Is multitasking a mark of high productivity? Most people will tell you yes, it is. But we will tell you otherwise! You don’t have to take our word for it but trust the experts who declare multi-tasking to be damaging for productivity. Here’s another pro tip we want to share with you: if you’re multitasking, don’t switch from one task to another right away. Why? Because it breaks your momentum, slows you down and compromises the quality of your output as well.
When you’re in the middle of a task, moving to a new one gives you a false impression that you’re getting more done. However, it’s actually killing your productivity and focus. When you multitask, you leave a trail of attention residue from the last task in your mind for a few minutes. The more switches you make, the more time you lose.
Continuous switching from one task to another may seem harmless and insignificant but it puts a serious strain on your focus and eventually diminishes productivity.
5. Learn to Prioritize
Does every task on your list deserve the same amount of attention or time? Is every task equally urgent or important? No! This is why it is important to assess the nature, importance and urgency of your work before deciding to get to it.
People often fall victim to poor prioritization when they have several tasks at hand. The ability to prioritize right is nothing less than art, but one can only attain mastery over it with practice. There are tasks that require immense focus and there may be a few that demand limited attention. Planning is the key here.
You should prioritize tasks with higher impact first and look for small windows in between where you can execute tasks that are less tedious and time-consuming. It’s not wise to sacrifice tasks with greater impact on your personal and/or professional goals for the ones that have little to no effect - not saying you shouldn’t do them - just don’t spend too much time doing certain things that require way less time to be completed.
6. Set Specific Objectives for the Day
Do you begin your days with little idea of what to work on? Do you end your days without accomplishing any of your significant project milestones? This is a quandary people face when they do not set daily goals or objectives. Starting your day without clear plans is like setting out on a road trip without a map. In both cases, you are likely to end somewhere you never wanted to go.
Improve your productivity right away by setting daily objectives. Delineate what needs to be done, how much time it should take, and what the deadline should be. Then begin working. An additional step you can take for even better results is taking manageable tasks on your daily plate. Instead of tackling an extensive list and leaving the majority of tasks unfinished, focus on a few things for the day and complete them. Make each day count if you want to master the art of productivity.
7. Do the Hardest Task First
When you have a lot of work to do, it is a good idea to focus on the toughest task on the list first. We get it - it is tough and you want to put it off for as long as you possibly can. However, this approach actually adds to your mental load and keeps you stuck in the loop of low productivity. The task, waiting to be done, weighs heavy on your mind. It worries and troubles you, and is likely to compromise your efficiency throughout the day.
So, just do the difficult task and get it out of the way. This strategy is also called ‘eat the frog’ technique. No one wants to eat a frog, but if it is unavoidable, it is best to get it over with. The upside is that, as soon as you accomplish that complicated and difficult task, you will experience a burst of energy. The sense of achievement you feel will motivate you to do more and do better.
A good time to do difficult tasks is when you have the fewest distractions around you. For most people, that is early in the morning, when it is easier to focus on challenging activities. It also sets a positive mindset for the rest of the day by completing your hardest task first. Shutting off all distractions is one method to stay on track with this practice. This implies you shouldn’t check your email, phone, or social media until you’ve finished the most difficult task on your plate.
8. Recognize Parkinson’s Law
In many workplaces, working long hours is praised and rewarded. However, if practiced for too long, it has the unintended consequence of lowering productivity and burnout. The time we devote to work directly impacts our wellbeing, including our mental and physical health. In this aspect, Parkinson’s law is instructive. The more time you have, the longer it will take you to complete any activity. To cope with this, you need to work smart. Push yourself to set deadlines and try to complete your tasks within the given timeframe.
Stop believing that you have long hours to work or that you have all the time in the world. Because the truth is—you don’t! Working within deadlines allows you to set healthy work-life boundaries. If you struggle with this aspect of your professional life, start by taking small steps. Complete one small task within a strict deadline and gradually do the same for more complex and bigger tasks. The more you practice it, the better you will get at it.
9. Domino to Boost Your Work Productivity
Productivity is partly about prioritising your tasks. Identify your domino at the start of each day and week. What exactly is a domino? The one task that has the most impact on your goals is a domino. Consider knocking down one domino in a row to start a chain reaction. That’s something you’d like to add up as a healthy practice.
10. Avoid distractions
Constant interruptions, such as emails, phone calls, and individuals knocking on your door, are one of the most significant productivity killers. Technology that can (and should) make our lives easier and better but also make it nearly difficult to sustain the level of focused concentration required for efficient and productive work. When you have a critical task that requires your whole attention and focus, make the time to give it your all.
11. Set SMART Goals
“Set big goals that scare you, and you’ll be successful.” You’ve probably heard that advice on numerous occasions. So you puff up your chest and tell yourself, “In a year, I’m going to make $10 million.” After a few weeks, you don’t see yourself getting any closer to your goal, so you give up.
Pursuing bold goals is fantastic advice when you give yourself enough time to get there. Setting enormous ambitions for the near term, on the other hand, is a surefire way to fail. Understanding the difference between short-term and long-term goals will help you set realistic milestones. Your long-term objectives should be ambitious, but your road map to get there should be practical.
12. Find a partner who will hold you accountable.
An accountability partner is someone with whom you share your objectives and deadlines. You are free to choose a friend, coworker, relative, or anybody else you think is appropriate. It’s preferable if you and your partner talk about your goals and hold each other accountable. The sense of accountability will steer you in the right direction - enabling you to strive and achieve challenging goals. Your partner will provide you with an objective assessment of your strategy and keep you motivated along the way.
13. Make use of the Pomodoro method.
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method in which you work for 25 minutes and then take a short break of 3-5 minutes. You take a long rest after completing the cycle four times. Working in such brief cycles keeps you from wasting too much time on a single activity or having to experience burnout.
The Pomodoro Technique creates the ideal balance between productivity and rest. The strategy entails working for a brief period without being interrupted, followed by a short time-out.
14. The technique of marginal gains
Dave Brailsford is regarded as one of the most outstanding cycling trainers of all time. Within ten years of taking over as head coach, he transformed a failing British cycling squad that had barely won any medals into undisputed sports dominance.
Mr. Brailsford’s achievement may appear to be the result of intelligent techniques. But, the coach had a straightforward philosophy: “If you break down every single part of cycling and enhance it by 1%, the overall result would be dramatically different,” he said. The difference was how Brailsford implemented improvements, as essential as the technique sounded.
On paper, the philosophy appears to be simple. All you have to do now is get a little better with time. The 1% does not specify any quantity. All it means is that you must concentrate on improving one component at a time. Even if you don’t see quick results, you must continue. Over time, you will notice a compounding effect, putting you in a new league altogether.
People look for significant benefits all at once and overlook the small changes that add up over time. The marginal gains method takes a marathon approach to improvement rather than a sprint.
15. Use the two-minute rule as a guideline.
If a task takes less than 2 minutes to accomplish, do it right now. You’re about to take a break when you notice an email that requires a response; you respond right away. You look over your to-do list and notice that one of the tasks requires a quick phone call; you pick up the phone and make that call.
David Allen devised this method, which he describes in his book “Getting Things Done.”
16. Use the 5-second rule as a guideline.
Taking the initial step toward finishing a challenging endeavor is the most crucial aspect.
Mel Robbins wrote a book called the 5-second rule to fight simple forms of procrastination. Making a mental countdown of 5-4-3-2-1 and promptly performing what you planned to postpone is the rule. As fundamental as it may appear, the strategy is highly efficient in combating procrastination. Mel Robbins outlined numerous circumstances when she applied the rule in the book, and it worked, everytime.
17. Start with the biggest frog.
‘Eat That Frog,’ by Brain Tracy, was a best-selling novel. Among all of the productivity tips in the book, the one that gained the most significant traction was to start with the most challenging tag. As per the said analogy, if you have numerous frogs to swallow, you should start with the largest one first as a strategy for completing the most difficult challenge first.
The author suggests that you take the same approach to your tasks. You have a variety of duties to perform each day, some of them are easy whereas others are difficult. To make your day productive, complete the most challenging activity first. That’s how it goes.
18. Add friction to the trigger or remove it entirely.
In the book Atomic Behaviors, James Clear proposed providing friction to break unwanted habits. Whatever your poor behaviors are, they all follow a similar pattern. Each of your habits begins with a source, eliciting a desire, followed by a reaction. Eliminating the source/trigger is one of the most effective methods to disrupt the pattern. If that isn’t possible, you can instead add friction between the source and the trigger.
19. Don’t respond to every email right away.
How frequently do you check your email? Looking through one’s inbox has become a habit for many people today. Even if you don’t need to, you check your email throughout the day.
Your productivity will suffer if you keep your email notifications turned on. Responding to emails fast can also help you avoid the stress of an overflowing inbox, which can be intimidating, disorganised, and difficult to navigate. These email integrations can help you enhance productivity and save time in addition to providing timely responses. This is one of our most useful productivity suggestions.
Keep your mailbox closed at all times. Turn off any notifications for new emails on your phone or computer.
20.Beware the parasites
People are eager to delegate their labor to others. They will often seek your assistance and try their best to burden you with their workload in the name of seeking help or assistance. Learn to say no here. There’s nothing wrong in helping others but don’t do their work for them. You’ve got your own tasks to finish, don’t you?
It is wonderful to be a helpful colleague but know to set the right boundaries from the get go. Don’t set patterns that become destructive not just for you but also for others. It is wise to put yourself first and manage your priorities accordingly. Complete the tasks on your plate and do not take up more than is your capacity to finish. It will only lead to burn out and exhaustion - both of them detrimental to your productivity.
21. Know your productive hours
Every day, regardless of your position, you will have a distinct set of activities to do. Not all of them will necessitate your undivided attention. Furthermore, various people have varying levels of focus at different times of the day. Some people are better in the morning, while others are better after sunset.
As a result, keep your focused hours separate from your shallow hours. When working on jobs that require your total concentration, you should only concentrate on one thing. And you may do so only if you set aside time for less vital pursuits. If you don’t, the work that requires minimum effort will get in the way of your tasks that demand deep concentration, and your productivity will suffer as a result.
22. Get enough sleep
Sometimes, you have so much on your plate that 24 hours in a day seem insufficient. When this happens, sleeping fewer hours is the most prevalent strategy people like to adopt. It is how they think they can make up for the shortage of time. They do it without realizing the damaging impact of lack of sleep on their wellbeing, productivity and success.
Here is a fact: Your brain can’t work at its optimum if you don’t get enough sleep. Your focus, creativity, and attention span are all harmed when you have slept little or badly. As a result, you eventually work long hours at a low-efficiency level and barely get anything done.
If you skip a few hours to keep working long hours, it might create an illusion of productivity. However, know that this practice is not sustainable and is also less likely to produce results for you. To make matters worse, the behavior of sleeping poorly becomes a never-ending cycle. To make up for your lack of efficiency, you’ll work longer hours, and the more you work, the less sleep you’ll get. So nip this bad habit in the bud and make it a point to get at least 8 hours of good sleep daily. It will keep you healthy, happy and alert, ramping up your productivity in both the short and the long term.
23. Maintain a balanced diet.
Your nutrition directly influences your productivity. When you eat a lot of carbohydrates, your body produces more insulin, which causes your sleep hormones to rise. The same may be said about junk food. Think back to the time you felt lethargic and sleepy after consuming a heavy diet of burgers and pizzas followed by a carbonated drink.
On the other hand, not consuming enough food will lead you to experience low blood sugar. In turn, this might make it challenging for you to make decisions and maintain an optimal level of productivity. The key is to strike a balance. Don’t eat too much and don’t eat too little. Give your body the nutrients it needs to survive and keep your brain running at good capacity. In short, eat healthy food in the proper amounts in order to stay healthy and productive in the long run.
24. Work hours should be reduced.
That’s right; you read that correctly. Allow yourself less time to do your everyday tasks every two weeks. We’ve already discussed Parkinson’s Law, which states that the more time you have, the longer it takes you to complete a task. As a result, when you’ve prepared yourself for a long day at work, you believe you’re operating at your best. As a result, you make no additional attempts to accelerate. When you work fewer hours, your brain is forced to find strategies to improve performance. It helps you get closer to your maximum performance and precision.
25. Keep learning.
Our priorities always push learning to the back burner. However, only by devoting time to learning will you improve your abilities. Aim to dedicate 5 hours every week to learn something new. It could be a self-development book you read or an online course or a new skill that you want to learn. If you’re having trouble doing so, start small. Give it 2 hours per week, then gradually build up. The long-term positive impact of continuous learning on your well-being as well as professional growth will be immense – take our word for it. Always prioritize self-improvement, and make sure you don’t stop learning. It is one way to keep yourself mentally invigorated, so your productivity stays optimal and you do not suffer from boredom or burn out.
26. Break goals into tasks
What do you have to do in five years to make a billion dollars? Should you start your own company? Do you need to work your way up to an executive position in a large corporation?
Break it down even more if you think it’s necessary. What are your plans for the next two years? Continue until you’ve identified one or more chores for today. You have to break down every goal and comprehend it thoroughly in order to come up with a ground shaking strategy that can help you to accelerate your productivity. The clear you are about your goals today, the better positioned you are to achieving them in the future.
27. Automate It.
Why waste time on chores that could be handled by artificial intelligence or automation software? Technology has never been more efficient or accessible than it is today. Considering the current situation, it is nothing short of foolish to do things manually when they can be done faster and better through technology.
So, make a small investment in automation as soon as you can. For instance, sign up for an affordable and smart weekly planner instead of keeping handwritten notebooks or calendars. A tool like this can make things interesting. It has features like smart alerts and an intuitive user interface bound to increase your productivity while also freeing up your time so you can focus on other important chores.
28. Make room for the thought process
Your ability to think is a superpower you don’t realize you possess! No other living creature can think like a human. The human brain is a powerhouse of creativity and productivity that can move mountains with its innovative thought process. However, the majority of people do not think to their full ability. They do not use their brain capacity like they can. Consequently, their productivity and success remains low.
It’s past time for you to make a change. Spend 15 minutes a day thinking about nothing else. You can use this time to work on new ideas and devise strategies that take you one step closer to your goals, personal or professional. Consider what you could accomplish better throughout these 15 minutes. The ideas spawned in just 15 minutes will pay off a thousandfold.
29. Reward yourself.
What did your parents do when you were a kid to encourage you to finish work or get good grades? You were promised a reward. You were given an ice cream cone for cleaning the yard or a bicycle for passing the exams. Ask yourself. Was the method effective? It surely was. You did things as a kid to earn the prize. The thrill of achieving the reward is sometimes more enjoyable than the prize itself.
This is called positive reinforcement and it is something that keeps you motivated to achieve greater things in the future. Don’t deprive yourself of small pleasures and rewards that you deserve for doing a good job. Be your own best coach and supporter, and celebrate wins, whether big or small. It will keep you productive in the long run.
30. Track your tasks
It’s critical to keep track of which tasks your team has completed and how long they took to complete them. Tracking your tasks can show you whether a work was done on time, took longer than predicted, or was completed more rapidly. With the performance metrics clear, it becomes easy to set goals and targets accordingly while also ensuring maximum productivity across the board.
This tip is meant to help you improve not just your own but your team’s productivity. Record the time and accomplishments of your team members (as you would for yourself). Share the details of their performance with them, and suggest ways to boost their efficiency. You can easily refer to some of the productivity strategies we have shared in this blog with them. Working together, you and your team can achieve important goals and reach your milestones with improved efficiency!
Learning to be productive begins with a positive attitude and concludes with discipline. In this article, we covered 30 tips that may come in handy in improving your productivity. If you are concerned about your output or struggle to achieve short-term or long-term goals, apply the strategies that you’ve learned so far - keeping what works and discarding the ones that don’t - make required changes and track results - you will surely notice a significant change in your productivity.
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