No matter who you are or what you do, productivity is the key to success!
But ... making every minute count can be a challenge.
We’ve all had days when it feels like nothing got done for a whole hour.
Let’s face it: When you want to increase productivity, you’ve got an uphill climb. It’s easy to do things differently for a day or so, but what about the next day? The next week?
You can get results for one day by changing your perspective. To get results every day, you need to change your habits. That’s what raising your productivity is really all about.
There are tons of ways to increase productivity. If you wanted to, you could try something new every day for a month. But which methods are worth sticking with long-term?
Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to increase productivity.
1. Start Single-Tasking
If there’s one thing that has an unbelievable impact on productivity, it’s multi-tasking.
To make a long story short, multi-tasking doesn’t work. It doesn’t even exist!
Yes, people consume information differently now than they once did. And yes, they do learn skills for managing multiple streams of information. But, a human’s thinking hardware just isn’t equipped to do more than one thing. And now, we have the science to prove it.
Neuroscientists have gathered more insights showing that when you think you’re multi-tasking, you really aren’t. Every time you have to switch between one task and another, even if it’s as simple as changing to another browser tab, there’s lag as your brain catches up.
In fact, some experts have estimated task switching can eat up 40% of your day.
Even some forms of multi-tasking we used to take for granted, like driving a car while talking to a friend, are now being questioned. The brain can handle limited multi-tasking with rote processes, but that’s all: Anything more complicated and switching means trouble.
Of course, multi-tasking is extremely tempting. There are so many things calling for attention in the average office that it seems impossible to ignore 99% of them in favor of the all-important 1% you need to do right now. And yet, that’s the fastest way to increase productivity.
How can you do it? It’s not easy to break the multi-tasking addiction, but you can start small:
- Turn off your email notifications, social notifications, or anything else that “pops up.”
- Cut down your browser tabs to just one window – the one you need for work research.
- If appropriate, use headphones to block out ordinary noise and office distractions.
Naturally, you have to adapt this to your situation. If you’re a social media manager, you might not want to turn off all your social notifications, for example. But, remember: No matter how many notifications you get, you can only respond to one of them at a time.
Master this, and you could get 40% of your day back.
2. Use a Stopwatch
Okay. Going “cold turkey” on multi-tasking would be impossible for most of us.
What’s the alternative? Think of it like weightlifting. You’re not going to go to the gym and bench press 300 pounds on your first day (and if you are, congratulations, Dr. Banner.)
Instead, you start off slower, with a relatively small amount, and you progress over time. You build those muscles – and if you keep it up, you ultimately reach your goal.
The same can be done when you increase your productivity.
Our recommendation: Get a standalone stopwatch app that doesn’t tie into any of your other calendars, appointment books, chat apps, email clients, or anything else and use it to carve out blocks of time where you’ll only do one single thing – without reacting to anything else.
Start with 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes completely focused on a task can launch you into a groove, especially if it’s something you need to start but you’ve been dreading.
In the long run, you can start using the famous Pomodoro technique: It involves focused working for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break to recharge.
You’ll more than make up for those breaks in added productivity!
3. Bust Down Barriers to Getting Started
What if you’re having a lot of trouble building momentum on something and even 15 minutes sounds like a lot? Break the big thing into its component steps, starting with the smallest one you can. Write them down, if that helps. And then do those small steps.
For example: That blog post you’ve been putting off writing?
You’ll need to open Word. Check. And you’ll need to type your keyword into Google. Check.
Even things you’ve been putting off for weeks can suddenly seem a lot more manageable if you ease into them. That’s true of relatively simple tasks, like creating a single piece of content, as well as complex ones ... for example, designing the entire content strategy.
4. End Every Night With a To-Do List
One of the best ways to increase productivity is to know what tomorrow holds.
At Bluleadz, we use Agile project management because it means everyone stays connected and knows what expectations apply to them from day to day. But even if you work in a more free-form atmosphere where you need to plan and meet your own goals, a little structure goes a long way.
Spending 15 minutes a night to get your schedule for tomorrow in order can help.
To really move in the right direction, though, you need to have long-term objectives in mind. Take your biggest goals and work backward: Figure out what your target for a month should be, then work backward to understand what you should be achieving every week.
Finally, dice that into the smallest pieces possible: What you need to accomplish each day.
5. Ruthlessly Prioritize Those Daily Tasks
Having a to-do list is a terrific step, but on its own ... it’s not enough.
You can easily find yourself running in circles as you start every day revved up and raring to go – then waste all that energy on tasks that aren’t really that important.
Unimportant things have a habit of getting done all the time simply because they seem the most urgent. And then we have to ask: Where did the time go?
Every day, divide up your proposed to-do list according to these items:
- Important and Urgent: These should always be your top priority.
- Important but Not Urgent: These are usually your long-term goals.
- Not Important, but Urgent: Ask yourself: “Do I need to do this?”
- Not Important or Urgent: Do these only if you have “spare” time.
With these five tips to increase productivity, you have a concrete place to start to reach your goals.
It’s a good idea to start with just change. Simply jot down some notes every day to remind yourself what you achieved and what you could do better regarding your new productivity habit.
As you notice yourself mastering one approach, incorporate the other productivity tips.
Just about all other techniques for improving productivity are derived from these five ideas. When you can see the little details and the big picture at the same time, you’ll be a productivity dynamo.