Have you been putting in long hours with no results to show for it? We’ve put together a list of 13 tips to help you be more productive. From setting deadlines for yourself to batch processing, these tips will help you boost your efficiency, leaving you with more time for hobbies, relaxation, friends, or family.
1. Make a To-Do List
We’ve all heard this one before. Lists help you stay focused. But does this mean you should create a huge list that will overwhelm you even before you have started your day? No. Prioritize. Break down your tasks into small, easy, manageable segments. Try out the 1-3-5 ratio, which includes setting one major task, three medium-sized tasks, and five small tasks for each day. When you complete each task, check it off the list for a little morale boost.
You may think that it is easier to do a task yourself than delegate it to someone else and then have to explain to them how to do it. But that’s not an efficient use of your time. If there are tasks that a friend, family member, or colleague would be better suited for, delegate them so that you are free to focus on tasks that only you can do.
3. Use Time Wisely
Do you find yourself spending a lot of time reading articles on your cell phone? Save them for your daily commute. Use your morning hours when your energy is at its peak to work on your most important tasks, and then check your email or Facebook messages later in the day.
While it’s tempting to start your day with easy, quick tasks, it’s better to leave them for later when your energy starts to flag. If there is a task you’ve been dreading doing, take care of it first thing in the morning so that it doesn’t hang over your head the whole day, lowering your focus.
4. Set Deadlines for Yourself
Deadlines are very effective. Even if you don’t actually have a deadline for a task, set one for yourself to avoid wasting time needlessly. It will keep you on track and prevent you from scrambling later to meet important milestones.
5. Take Breaks
Take regular breaks even when you have a lot on your plate. Get a drink, go for a short walk, or just stand up and stretch. Frequent breaks will help keep your brain focused on the task at hand. If you spend too much time on the same activity without a break, you’ll find yourself losing interest, and as a result, becoming less effective.
6. Learn to Say No
Is your day packed with tasks you’ve taken on just because you didn’t want to or couldn’t say no to people? An innate desire to please others and make yourself more likable often causes us to agree to do things that are not important or valuable to us. Maybe it’s time to revisit your to-do list and determine if all the items in there still match your priorities and goals.
7. Don’t Multitask
Multitasking is a myth. It may seem like you are getting more things done in less time, but it doesn’t work that way. When you multitask, your brain has to rapidly switch focus from one task to the other, which ultimately lowers productivity, creativity, and efficiency. Habitual multitasking will ultimately leave you in a state of constant stress or unable to focus on any one task for long.
8. Clear Out the Clutter
Clutter has been proved to be a major source of stress. It distracts our attention and makes it difficult for us to concentrate on the task at hand. When your living/work space is disorganized, you may also end up wasting a lot of time searching for important documents or other resources that get lost in the never-ending pile of clutter. Clearing out the mess will improve your focus, boost your morale, and help you work more efficiently.
9. Remove Distractions
Technology is definitely a boon, but it’s also a big source of distractions. If you want to get things done, switch off the TV and log off social media. If you are in the habit of checking your email or text messages several times a day, set your cell phone notifications on silent.
When you are at work, close the door of your office. People will get the signal and will be less likely to disturb you. Or head to the nearest cafe or library where you can work uninterrupted for at least a couple of hours.
10. Set up Routines
Most successful business professionals and entrepreneurs are driven by their routines. Habits form the foundation of our life. Develop routines that help you get through your day smoothly without wasting time on minor decisions. Set up a personalized daily schedule with fixed times for work, exercise, family, fun, etc., and then, most importantly, follow it!
11. Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Healthy eating doesn’t just reduce our risk of developing long-term illnesses like diabetes or osteoporosis, it also improves our productivity. A healthy breakfast provides energy and helps you stay alert as you go about your day. Good eating habits also improve sleep and mental health, both of which will help you work with better concentration.
12. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is said to be one of the best ways to improve productivity. Physical activity boosts physical health and mental clarity, and healthier people are generally more productive. If you can spend some time outdoors every week, all the better!
13. Do Batch Processing
In simple terms, productivity means getting as much as you can done in a minimum amount of time. If you have many recurring or similar tasks such as replying to emails, try to do them in a batch. Every time you start a new task, your brain requires time to catch up. With batch processing, you stay focused on the same task and get into a rhythm, which helps you work efficiently.
Batch processing also saves time by minimizing distractions and making better use of available resources. When one batch is complete, take a break, and move on to the next set.