You’re only as good as your productivity. When productivity suffers, you suffer, both professionally and possibly personally. The ability to accomplish more during the daytime can help boost your career while eventually freeing up more time for you to do as you see fit. How do you boost productivity? Can you just roll out of bed and instantly push through the fog of life and take on more tasks without batting an eye? Yes, you can. You just need to know how. By taking advantage of these four small and simple daily tasks, you’ll quickly discover new ways to boost productivity and accomplish more with your life.
1. Track What You’re Wasting Your Time On
You can pinpoint major pockets of time wasting, but you may not realize just how much time you’re throwing down the drain. You need to keep track of everything you’re doing. For a week, write down everything you do during a day. Don’t leave anything out. Write down the time you spent on these activities as well. When you look back at everything you did, you might be shocked at what you wasted your time on.
Have you ever wondered why many of the more successful people wear the exact same thing every single day? Steve Jobs wore the same jeans, turtleneck, and sneakers, regardless of heading to work or a keynote presentation. Others prefer to wear sneakers and a t-shirt every single day. Wearing the same thing every day isn't because they lack a sense of style or because they're just comfortable in one thing over the other (although they likely are more comfortable in a t-shirt instead of a suit and tie). It's because picking out clothes and trying to decide what to wear on a given day is valuable time away from being productive. You may spend five or ten minutes a day picking out clothes and getting ready. Add on more time if the clothing needs ironing and prepping. By wearing the same thing, you might just save ten minutes.
When looking throughout the rest of your day, you'll identify other unnecessary areas that can be cut out. Whether you remove these activities or streamline, you'll soon discover you have a few more available hours at your disposal. This is time you can convert into working. Thanks to the newly found hours, you'll boost productivity and even finish your work early, offering more time to spend with your friends and family.
2. Cut Out Distractions
Distractions come in many shapes and sizes. Everyone has them. They also kill your productivity. Beyond identifying the areas where you waste time every day, you need to remove distractions from your life.
Start by removing clutter from your office (or wherever you work). You may have heard the phrase "a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind". It means if there is more for your eyes to focus on, your mind often wanders with it. Keep only essential paperwork on the desk, filing everything else away.
Some people place photographs of favorite travel destinations on their desk to remind them of what they are working for. The problem with this logic is daydreaming may set in, which cuts down on productivity, which means the person may need to work longer to ever see that sunny beach or weekend at Disney again. There's a reason why offices place motivational posters around the office. These posters do not distract, but are used as reminders of what great work can accomplish. This doesn't mean you need to go trash everything in your office and start investing in quote art to put up on your walls. Just cut out the distractions in your office and you'll soon discover your mind has less to drag its focus away from the daily tasks.
Distractions don’t just come in forms of photographs and piles of paperwork on the desk. Distractions can come in the form of people you spend your time with. The famous Greek storyteller Aesop once said, “Judge a man by the company he keeps.” The company you keep doesn’t just say a great deal about you, but many of these people play a role in distractions.
Recognize those who takes your focus away from work, either because they’re constantly texting you or asking for favors. They may lead you down other undesirable paths as well. Whatever they do and whoever they are, take a step back and consider whom you spend your time with. If you deem some to be a distraction, do something about it. If you don’t, they will continue to eat up your time and drag down productivity.
3. To-Do List
Lists are a great way to stay on track. There’s a reason why teachers have an in-depth syllabus for what they want and need to cover. A syllabus is nothing more than an extensive list. You don’t need to create a to-do list for the next three months--that wouldn’t prove practical, as you’d constantly need to amend it. Instead, create a to-do list the night before.
Consider what you need to get done. Determine what the most important tasks on your list are, and put these at the top. From there, you may not have specifics, other than just work; spend time with the family and so on. That’s perfectly fine. There are going to be days where you don’t know what you need to accomplish before heading into work. Simply block off time where you’ll do nothing but work, making sure to squeeze in small breaks in between these blocks.
You might wonder why in the world you would schedule in breaks. After all, isn’t time away from the job just a drag on what you get done? Not exactly. The human mind can only spend so much time focused on a given task before it starts to wander. You'll never be as focused five hours on a project as you were one hour into a project. To extract maximum production from every single minute of the day, focus on blocking off around 150 minutes (two and a half hours) just for work, then build in a 15 or 20-minute break. This is a great chance to check your email, grab a drink of water, walk around the block to stretch your legs or so on. When you come back to your workspace for the beginning of another work block, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go with your work activities.
This is another area in which you’ll spend time away from work to maximize your time while at work. Exercising, eating right and staying fit helps your work productivity in several different ways. For starters, when you remain healthy you won’t miss work as much. By cutting down on your annual sick days, you’ll instantly pump out more work (and stand out for a potential promotion when one becomes available). If you have any unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking in excess or anything else, now is the time to quit.
Exercising and staying healthy also helps with your daily productivity. When you exercise it forces your heart to pump harder and faster. This pushes blood through your body at a faster rate than when you're sitting at your desk. When your blood pumps faster it delivers oxygen, protein, and nutrients to every other cell in your body faster, including your brain. By delivering protein (which is used as energy), nutrients and oxygen, your brain will be able to focus better than if you didn’t exercise.
On top of delivering oxygen, energy, and nutrients to your brain, when you exercise you release endorphins. Endorphins reduce the feeling of pain and help cut stress naturally. In fact, scientists compare endorphins in a similar manner to morphine and codeine, only naturally created and delivered by your body. Working out helps you blow off some steam from the office while also improving your mood. This is just another reason why you should try to squeeze in a walk around the block during your break time. The better you take care of your body, the better your body will help you improve function and productivity throughout the day.
In terms of when you should exercise, it’s really all about when you have time. Many people like to squeeze their workout in first thing, as it improves their thought process throughout the rest of the day (thanks to the heightened oxygen and energy delivery to the brain) and it also helps boost their metabolism. Realistically, if you can put it early in the morning, go for it, but if you can’t, aim for any other available time available.
Boosting your productivity doesn’t require a complete redesign of your daily life. It just takes a few tweaks here and there. With these four small and simple habits, you’ll find you accomplish more throughout the day. From propelling you further professionally than you ever thought possible to providing you more time to spend with family and friends, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using them before now.
Tell Us –
Which one of these habit(s) do you have? Have they helped boost your productivity level?