As people get busier each day, they all seem to wish for more hours in the day to complete their work. To-Do lists never end, and the days get longer and longer. Then again, one must wonder how is it that there are those successful people who do get everything done – on time – and spend quality time with their families. The difference lies in the productivity levels. It is simply the combination of your output versus your input. The idea is to get more out with less or enough input.
Once you are aware of how productive you are, you can further make tweaks to focus right, work effectively and set clear strategic goals. If your New Year resolution is to raise your productivity up a few notches, then this article may just be right for you. There are various sections, with the best productivity tips under each. Even if you may not follow all, there are a few that will definitely encourage and motivate you to increase your productivity, come 2016.
FOR THE INDIVIDUAL
- Keep your phone away or on silent/DND mode when you want to focus on an important task.
- Do the most important tasks when you are at your productivity-best; spend time analyzing the way you work and you will become easily aware of which times of the day suit you best to do the important tasks.
- Keep hydrated – with water – not colas or caffeine. Your body needs water to regulate your inner constitution and the added oxygen keeps you alert and active. Yes, more fluid, more nature calls, but that is ok. Taking a short walk every 25min or so is good for your focus, your body and your mind – easy exercises that you never really had the time to do anyway!
- Clear your clutter. Whether you work in an office or at home, working in a messy environment is not very productive – unless you are a painter, but even artists have a level of order that may not be presumptuous to onlookers. Clearing the clutter will clear your mind and help you focus, focus, focus.
- Sleep well. Yes, ok, you can argue that hunter-gatherers slept in 4-hour intervals while they hunted. Well, humans have progressed now and 7-8 hours of sleep at a stretch is the bare minimum to keep your well-being intact. When your mind and body rests well, you can think clearly, you are assertive and you make the right decisions. Sleepless nights, caffeine-overloaded days is just warfare on your own constitution.
FOR WORK PARAPHERNALIA
- Invest in a PC or laptop that runs faster, has more space; this not only saves you ample amount of time, but it keeps your sanity intact too. (You won’t deny that there have been times when you just wanted to punch the monitor screen or bash the keyboard into two, just because the lag in time was killing you inside!)
- Track your time, on each project or task. There is a treasure in such data; who knows, you could actually present a case to your boss and looking at the stats, the people upstairs might just get you another resource to help you!
- Look up and create the right ergonomics about the way you sit, your chair level to the desk, your eye level to the screen – everything. Use a dual monitor if you will! Often it is ignored, but when kept balanced, they all can be highly effective in increasing your productivity. When you have good posture, you are physically alert and active.
- Work mindfully. There is no point in responding to an email when you are actually in the middle of that detailed finance report. Do one thing at a time and do it right.
- Stop doing whatever you are doing if you feel ANGRY, FRUSTRATED, ANNOYED … you get the drift. Give yourself a moment or a few to calm down and then respond to emails, talk to your boss or anything else that was bothering you before. Working in a negative emotional state can hamper your productivity and your job security.
FOR EMAIL MANAGEMENT
- Check them only at a specific time of the day. You could check once every 3 hours to keep you focused on the task. Checking emails every now and then may shift your focus on urgent matters while the important tasks lag behind.
- While some people believe in ignoring emails which they know are spams, it is wiser just to go ahead and delete them. Looking at the ever-growing number of unread emails could stress you subconsciously.
- Create Folders for important respondents and maintain it by creating rules so they automatically go into specified folders.
- Unsubscribe from junk/spam mails – immediately.
- Create templates for frequently sent emails – saves time and effort!
FOR PRODUCTIVE MEETINGS
- Not enough can be said about the time saved by stand-up meetings.
- Set agenda for meetings and only attend meetings that have one. There is always a risk of such meetings that run without any agenda, taking up everybody’s time without ever being productive.
- Stick to timelines. Reach the meeting zone on time and leave, if you must, on time.
- Assign actionable and follow-up, for the meeting to be productive.
- There is no need for a meeting if the same can be done over a conference call or an email. Saves a lot of time for all stakeholders.
FOR EFFECTIVE TO-DOs
- Write down what needs to be done, exactly. Do not be vague about the task or you might waste time just thinking about it later. Besides, once it is in the paper/electronic medium, it is off your mind and you have more room to think about things that are more useful.
- Update your list. Cross-off the completed tasks so that you are aware of what exactly needs to be done next.
- Prioritize your list – use colored pens, highlights, whatever works for you to let the most important task stand out of the crowd.
- Update your To-Dos for the next day, by the end of the day. It will save you a lot of time when you come back to work the next day and everything is ready – at your disposal.
- Keep a diary, not just a notebook to create To-Dos. The dates will help you book your calendar in a way that you are aware of the deadlines for each task. Assign tasks in a way that they always fall before the deadline. Therefore, when you are looking at it later on your calendar, subconsciously you will finish all your tasks well within timelines – making you productive more than ever!