Increase Your Productivity: 7 Tips on How to Become More Productive
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2022 has arrived and you might be diving headfirst into your list of new year’s resolutions. Along with eating well and exercising regularly, one of the most frequent spots on people’s lists is the desire to be more productive–both in work and everyday life. Perhaps this is because we live in an age of distraction: social media, meetings, multitasking and mountains of bingeable TV can all get in the way of you streamlining your tasks and maintaining concentration.
We’re here to provide you with ways to get around these distractions and to help you tick off at least one item on your list of resolutions. Read on to discover our seven simple tips.
What Is Productivity?
In economics, productivity describes the relationship between goods and services produced (the output) and the production factors required for those goods and services (the input). The big question for you is: How much time do you need to invest to be efficient in your job?
In everyday terms, productivity is the amount and quality of tasks you complete to achieve professional or personal goals.
Prerequisites for Productivity
There are a few key prerequisites for productivity. Reflect on these and decide whether any of them is missing, because they could stand in the way of your goal.
Enjoy Your Work
While you don’t need to enjoy your work in the same way you enjoy your hobbies, it’s important that you derive some satisfaction from your work and you can easily identify positive aspects. A positive frame of mind is more likely to breed productivity.
Appreciation for Your Own Work
This goes beyond the expected financial compensation of your work. If you aren’t appreciated in your work by colleagues, peers or clients, this can quickly lead to frustration, sapping any inspiration to do better. Think about the kind of gratitude you’re receiving for the time you’re putting in and decide if it drives you to do more or less.
The Right Workload
Even if you enjoy your work and feel valued, you can still be overworked. An excessive workload is a clear path to stress and eventually burnout, and along that path is a continuous loss of productivity. When you work too hard or juggle too many tasks, your organisation skills suffer and you lose track of your emails and communication. You’re also likely to make more mistakes in your tasks–you won’t show your best work. If you notice this happening, try to ask colleagues for help and disperse your workload or extend some deadlines.
7 Tips on How to Increase Your Productivity
If you’re satisfied having reflected on the above points, let’s get to work increasing your productivity with these seven tips.
Tip 1: Create To-Do Lists
Few things will add structure to your day better than everyday to-do lists. Creating one first thing in the morning or at the end of the previous workday will boost your memory for tasks and meetings while giving you a list of achievable goals for the day.
To help give purpose to your lists, consider these ‘W’ questions when creating one:
- When do you have to deliver what to whom?
- What are the next steps?
- What has already been done?
- Where might time blockers arise?
- Who is involved in the project?
Consider project management tools to diversify your to-do lists, while also adding concrete reminders and alarms for deadlines and meetings.
Tip 2: Set Priorities
With your to-do lists organised, you can now focus on assigning priority to tasks. Determine priorities by thinking about proximity of deadlines, length required to complete tasks and progress made so far.
It’s worth noting that to-do lists and priorities shouldn’t only serve you at work. Making them on your days off can allow you to get pesky admin out of the way and enjoy your free time unencumbered.
If you need some help discerning priorities, try tackling the more unpleasant tasks first. Use the ones you look forward to as a reward–it’s much easier at the end of the day to tackle a task you like than one you’ve been dreading all day.
Tip 3: Avoid Procrastination
Easier said than done, right? As we all know, procrastination is the enemy of productivity. Try to divide up your tasks into small steps. Give yourself little rewards of free time after completing each aspect of the task.
Another way to steer clear of procrastination is by following the two minute rule: anything you can do in under two minutes, you should do now.
Tip 4: Know Your Own Rhythm
If you’re a freelancer, you’re free to manage your own time. You can decide if you’ll do your best work in the morning or the evening. You can adjust your schedule to your biorhythm.
For people with schedules set by their employers, try to determine which tasks suit which parts of the day best. You might prefer to have your meetings in the mornings and more concentration heavy tasks in the afternoon.
Tip 5: Avoid Multitasking
Research in neuroscience has proved that too much multitasking can have the opposite desired effect: a reduction in productivity and increase in stress. The results of one study showed that processing several tasks simultaneously risks reducing productivity by up to 40%. This is caused by the human brain needing a few minutes to familiarise itself with each new task.
Try to focus on one task. If you think about it, each task is achievable with your full attention when you know how much time is required to complete it. There’s no need to multitask when you take things one at a time.
The Pareto Principle
Tip 6: Reduce Distractions
This one comes hand in hand with avoiding procrastination. It deserves special attention however because the digital age has brought with it a baffling amount of distractions, social media being chief among them. Many of us have several social media profiles and when you pair this with emails, IMs, colleagues Slacking you and your calendar sending you meeting notifications, it’s a wonder any of us ever gets anything done.
Haven’t got your Penta account yet? You could have one in just 15 minutes!
Fortunately, with all this digital distraction comes a great weapon you can wield: the ability to turn things off. Mute notifications, alert colleagues you’re focusing on something and won’t be responding, put your phone out of reach and give each task the attention it requires.
Some distractions are positive, too. Ever gotten derailed from a task when you thought of a new idea? Take our advice and write it down somewhere immediately. That way you won’t forget it, but you won’t expend mental energy holding onto it.
Schedule Fixed Times
Tip 7: Integrate Exercise Into the Workday
Don’t buy into the idea that you should be productive eight hours a day. Nobody can do that. We all need time to reset and recharge, preferably outside the four walls of the office or home.
Try doing a little physical exercise to break up the day. This kind of a break isn’t just healthy, it’s known to improve our creativity, relieve stress, and even help us communicate better.
Apple founder Steve Jobs liked to take his meetings while on a stroll, which led to his innovation of the ‘walking meeting’. He’s said that it was on these mobile meetings that he came up with some of his best ideas.
A study at the Harvard Medical School found that people attending walking meetings were 5.25% more likely to be creative and 8.5% more motivated.
Of course, if walking isn’t your style, try incorporating a quick workout into your routine.
Misconception: Work More and Increase Productivity
The ones pulling 60 hour weeks aren’t necessarily the most productive.
One clear indicator of this is the numerous companies that have introduced four day work weeks to resounding success, recording an increase in productivity from their employees.
An OECD study also demonstrated a decrease in productivity when the working week exceeds 50 hours.
Conclusion: Your Path to More Productivity
Hopefully we’ve demonstrated to you that, despite the numerous distractions in everyday life, there are ways around them that ensure you increase your productivity in everyday life.
Remember to sort and prioritise your to do lists, mute or shut off distracting apps when you need to focus and don’t fall victim to the multitasking trap. Make sure you’re listening to your body, too. Your work schedule should fit your internal rhythm and your chosen exercise should reflect your preferences.
Follow this advice and hopefully you’ll see an upswing in your productivity in a way which is positive for your mental health.