Are you getting things done, or do you find yourself juggling a lot of things at once and not getting anything done right?
In this article, we look at some tips on how to improve your productivity.
Both at work and in your home life, getting as much done as possible can give a great sense of achievement and make life more manageable. On some days, you will get a lot done, but on others you may find it difficult to complete all the tasks you need to finish.
Achieving everything you hoped for by the end of the day can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being, whereas being unproductive or feeling you could have achieved more will induce negative feelings.
However, there are steps you can take to increase your productivity.
Tips on How to Be More Productive
1. Set Targets
Setting targets gives you something to aim for and can keep you motivated as you have a sense of achievement when you succeed in completing each task.
Your targets can either be a whole task that needs completing or a small part of a larger project you are aiming to finish.
When you set your targets, think not only about what it is you are aiming to do but also the timeframe in which you expect to complete that particular job.
Your targets should be something to inspire you to work towards, but not be so unreasonable they cannot be achieved.
One method that can help you in setting targets or goals, especially if they’re bigger goals or have a bit of a medium to long term timespan is using the S.M.A.R.T. methodology.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific: set specific tasks and goals in detail. Avoid things that are too general or ambiguous. You want something that tells you exactly what you need to achieve or reach for. The more specific the better.
- Measurable: you should be able to measure your results, either by number of things achieved each week or getting a certain result.
- Achievable: goals should be realistic and attainable, not something imaginary.
- Relevant: it should be something in line with what you’re trying to accomplish in whole, or related to who you want to become or where you want to get to.
- Time-bound: it should have definite start and end dates or times. The fixed duration ensures you don’t set it aside and are aware of when you need to get it done.
2. Get Organized
How organized you are will determine how much you get done.
There are many different ways of getting yourself organized that will increase productivity.
- First of all, writing a list of what needs to be done can help you to clarify what tasks you need to complete.
- Secondly, having any information or equipment you need to successfully complete each task prepared in advance will make things run smoothly. Each task will take less time and you will quickly be able to move onto the next item on your list.
From experience, we’ve found that having a to-do list really helps.
To do lists let you make sure you don’t forget what you need to get done. It also frees up your mind from having to try and remember it.
You can even separate your lists into those that need to be done today, this week, this month or this year.
3. Prioritize Your Tasks
Some jobs are more important than others.
You might get lots of smaller jobs done in a day, but this does not necessarily mean you have been more productive.
You may have a larger but more important task that needs completing and this can be much more productive than focusing on tasks of lesser importance.
Prioritize your tasks into categories of vital, important, useful and unnecessary, or similarly headed lists. Doing this will improve your productivity by focusing you on the high priority jobs.
Being busy does not equate to being productive.
There’s often a misconception that just because someone is very busy and has their daily scheduled filled with things to do, they’re being productive. That isn’t always the case.
Understanding your priorities allows you to be more productive and possibly less busy.
4. Learn to Delegate
Being productive is all about getting things done and this may mean recognizing the need to delegate certain tasks to other people.
It may be that you need help with the sheer volume of the workload or you may realize that someone else has the better skills, knowledge or experience to complete a task well. Delegating is something that works equally well in both your work life and your home life.
At the end of day, we each only have a pair of hands and one body. This means we can only do a limited amount of things at a given time. It also means we can’t be at two places at once.
Being able to delegate lets you free your time for more important tasks as well as give others the reigns on things you aren’t as knowledgeable or skilled at. That way you get the important jobs done with the best possible results.
5. Remove Distractions
Distractions are the main cause of a lack of productivity.
Removing distractions will have a significant and positive impact on the amount you can get done each day.
Some typical distractions people face are interruptions from other people or the telephone. Similarly, background noises can impact on your ability to work, such as the television, others talking or music playing.
Aside from our cellphones, two other common distractions are checking email and browsing the web. At some point in the workday or when we need to be focusing on more important things, we’ll find ourselves drifting into our inboxes or web surfing when we have more important things to tend to.
Try to remove as many of these distractions as possible.
6. Take Advantage of Time Management Skills
Learning how to manage your time well will help you to get more done.
To do this, you must recognize how long it will take to complete a task and then allocate a part of the day to do this.
You must be able to complete tasks in accordance with the amount of time available. To be successful in using the time available to your advantage, you may have to divide the day into sections that you can then allocate jobs to in the order you intend to complete them.
If you don’t have a time management strategies in place, try the Pomodoro technique.
Developed in the 1980’s, the Pomodoro technique slices up your days into chunks of undistracted work times. After each chunk, you rest for a short period.
The basic principle of the Pomodoro technique works like this:
- Figure out what you need to get done.
- Set a timer to 25 minutes. This is one chunk (a pomodoro). It is also the time allotted for undistracted work.
- The 25 minutes is the traditional duration, though as you get used to the method and learn how long your body is able to work productively, you can adjust the number of minutes.
- Work until the 25 minutes is up. Don’t let anything distract you.
- Once the 25 minutes is done, take a 5 minute break.
- After the break set the timer to 25 minutes again and start working.
Repeat the process.
After 4 pomodoros (4 25-minute work periods), take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes. Then start over.
This method allows you to break up your days so you can focus on work and take breaks in between. This allows your brain to work and process more efficiently.
7. Value Teamwork / Learn to Work with a Team
Some jobs in life needed to be completed by a team of people rather than an individual. In these circumstances, teamwork skills must be applied.
Communication is a vital step in working well as a team and increasingly the productivity of everyone within that team.
Another way of improving team productivity is to recognize each member of the team’s strengths and weaknesses and consider this in the allocation of roles or tasks.
8. Stop Multitasking
While it may seem more productive on the surface, studies have repeatedly shown that multitasking actually hampers productivity.
Our brains function best when it is able to give its undivided attention to the task at hand. Moving from one task to another every few minutes or thinking of many things at the time slows down your work as it takes time to “set up” each time you switch between tasks.
This is why the assembly line system works.
According to research, multitasking slows down your productivity by 40%!
Also, jumping from one task to another often leads to missing out on small details due to less focus given on each task. This way, you end up not only working slower but having results that are just average or subpar.
9. Understand Your Body
Each of us are built differently. Some people can go on very little sleep while others require the 8 hours per night to get fully recharged.
Figure out the rhythms of your body and when it works well, as well as when it is telling you it’s tired. This may mean re-arranging the bulk of your important work to the mornings if you find that you’re more productive before lunch.
Night owls may leave the larger, more important work at night when they focus best.
Just as important is knowing when your body is starting to reach it limits. This lets you know when to take a break or back off the work schedule.
10. Take Time Out to Exercise
While taking time out to exercise each day may seem counter intuitive on the surface since you may be able to use that 30 minutes to 1 hour of workouts to do something more productive, taking time out to engage in physical activity has been scientifically proven not only to improve productivity and performance but also relieve stress and gives you more energy.
Regular exercise also helps keep the body in tip-top condition which, in the long run, lets you work more consistently and reduces sick days.