Reading Length: 9 minutes
- “Let’s define productivity. Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a person completing a task. We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day. Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently. And no matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important.” – James Clear
- Use 80/20 Rule or Pareto Principle.
20% effort produces your 80% output so figure out what is your 20% activity.
- Use the “Two Minute Rule.”
David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, states if you can do something in two minutes, complete the tasks. Otherwise, delete or delegate it.
- Use the Eisenhower Matrix.
Set up four parts of a box labeled: Urgent and Important, Important but not Urgent, Urgent but not Important, and Neither Important or Urgent. Divide your tasks based on these parts.
- Look at ultradian rhythms.
Our bodies naturally can last 90-120 minutes so work based on those rhythms and length to avoid over exhaustion.
- Use the Big Rocks System.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People suggests we should do our most important work first and save the least important work for last.
- Get enough sleep and take power naps.
Our bodies need 7 to 9 hours of sleep for higher levels of energy and productivity. A quick 30 – 60 minute nap can be helpful to giving energy as well.
- Take care of health.
Drink lots of water rather than coffee, soda or energy drinks. Try walking for 5, 10, 30 minutes a day. Exercise encourages more creativity and make you feel better. Eat a lighter, more vitamin-rich food during the day. Fast-food makes you more tired and slows you down.
When we become stressed, we tend to hold our breath. Remain calm and focused by taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly.
Journaling can put thinks in perspective and take out some stress. It allows you to get stressful thoughts out of your head.
- Plan your day before and your morning routine.
It will make transitions easier when you plan the day before. Start your morning well with reading, journaling, or exercising.
- Implement a startup routine.
Get rid of the tedious tasks first in the morning such as handling mail, email, voicemail, and other actionable items.
- Keep a minimal task list.
Have 3-5 most important things on your list to finish. Don’t overwhelm yourself with so many tasks.
- Use your calendar, phone and email effectively.
Schedule your important tasks on your calendar. You’ll be less likely to overfill with appointments and meetings. Rather than going back and forth on phone, just have a phone call to get the conversation done. Delegate tasks or shoot a quick email to save time and distraction.
- Reduce meetings.
Try to reduce the number of meetings that are not relevant to you. Or, set a time limit for a meeting such as 20 minutes.
- Clean and organize your work space.
Clean your desk, organize your desk drawers, organize your file folders either digital or paper and only keep things that are valuable to you and bring you joy.
- Keep learning.
Some tips may help you and some may not so keep learning new productivity tips to find out which one is best for you.
14 Unique Productivity Tips: How to Be More Productive with Less Effort by Vanessa Van Edwards
- Learn to read and work faster.
Learn to speed read which can save a lot of time. Other tips are learning keyboard shortcuts, reorganize your desktop and home screen based on frequent use, and speed up your mouse.
- Chew gum.
Chewing gum has been linked to speeding performance, boosting cognitive abilities, and combatting sleep. Set a pack of gum at your work place and chew it when you need an energy boost.
- Use productive self-talk.
Research has shown the best techniques are: self-talk, imagery, and “if-then” planning. Self-talk is saying things like “I’m ready for this.” Imagery is visualizing yourself in a successful position. “If-then” planning is saying things like “If I can be productive for the rest of the day, then I can enjoy the weekend ahead.”
- Create a break list.
A “break list” is a short list of pleasurable activities you can do to prevent burn out. You can write it down on paper, electronically or with the use of an app such as TickTack. Some ideas for the break list are to: call a funny friend, change your environment, watch educational videos, journal, go outside, take up a new hobby, self educate or watch funny videos on YouTube.
18 Habits of Highly Productive People: What Efficient People Have in Common by Benyamin Elias
- Engage in deep work.
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, states that the skill of staying focused is very rare now. The key to getting deep work is to schedule time for deep work, get bored by avoiding entertainment, be harder to reach by avoiding emails, and know your best work habit and environment.
- Keep a distraction list.
During your deep work, write down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind on your “distraction list.” It can be physical paper or on Google docs.
- Break down big tasks to smaller tasks.
Start with your to-do list by breaking it down into smaller tasks so you feel less overwhelmed and less likely to procrastinate. Make sure each item is very specific and tackle it in order.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique.
Take breaks to help you recharge and be productive later on. This technique suggests 25 minute blocks of work, with short 5 minute breaks. During those 25 minutes, you stay focused in deep work.
- Make fewer decisions on less important things.
There is a reason why President Obama only wears gray or blue suits. He wants to narrow down on unimportant decisions. Try to outsource or eliminate unimportant everyday decisions.
- Spend less time on email.
Make your emails more clear and valuable. Instead of sending an inefficient and vague email about a meeting, add more details such as by listing three different times and dates you’re available for the meeting.
- Reflect on success and mistakes.
Analyze your mistakes to prevent it from happening again. Figure out the success in order to see how you can repeat it. Ask yourself: “ What went well and why? What should you take from this experience and use again? Are there elements of a successful project that weren’t as effective and can be eliminated?”
- Look out for planning fallacy.
Prepare that things may go wrong. Planning fallacy is when you underestimate how long is takes to complete a task. Plan for interruptions, problems and adapt to it.
- Don’t wait for inspiration or motivation to work.
Just start doing something such as breaking down the task to smaller pieces. Taking action will encourage further action.
- Do not multitask.
When you multitask, you’re not doing two things at once. You’re just switching your focus between the two. There are exceptions to multi tasking when you’re doing two things that don’t require a lot of mental capacity such as cleaning and listening to music. To avoid multitasking, close your email tab, mute email or text notifications.
- Sharpen the axe.
Spend time reading, acquiring knowledge and improving. This leads to faster and more accurate decisions.
- Focus on energy management.
Work during your peak hours rather than when you feel exhausted. Manage your energy levels in order to tackle the intense tasks.
- Get better at saying “no.”
New projects and opportunities can appear all the time. But you need to say “no” to focus your time on important matters.
How to Make the Most of Your Workday by Phyllis Korkki
- Trust the small increments.
Don’t expect to change overnight. Trust that the small changes will compound to big changes in productivity.
- Find accountability.
Find an accountability partner. Consider doing weekly check-ins with someone about meeting deadlines. Announce your progress to others. Implement a punishment and reward.
- Focus on mono-tasking.
Block off hours to focus on one thing. Set a timer and focus on it for 5 or 10 minutes. You can also consider anti-distraction programs such as , and .
- Make use of to-do list.
Make a list of five to eight goals that you would like to accomplish the following day. Make sure it is specific, realistic and simple. You can use , or .
- Watch your posture.
Good posture encourages better thinking and less chronic pain. Beware of the tension you hold in your body as you work. Look into implementing the Alexander Technique.
The 7 Essential Rituals for Focused Work by Scott H. Young
- Put on noise-cancelling headphones.
You can block out all the noises that can be distracting. There could also be social cost for interrupting you such as someone tapping you on the shoulder. But be wary of what you listen to since research has shown listening to music with lyrics can decrease decline in studying.
- Turn off all notifications.
Turn off the notifications on your phone, close your email inbox, and turn off computer notifications. You can put your phone in a drawer to prevent the impulse of checking it. Allow exceptions for emergencies only.
- Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
This is especially important if you have family members with you at home while you’re working. Implementing this sign can increase social cost to discourage interruptions.
- Plan your work session.
Consider what you need to do as next steps such as doing research, creating an outline, brainstorming or writing a rough draft. Without a plan, you’ll be more tempted to wander off on your phone.
- Move to focused environment.
Pick a same space for your focused work in order to get you into the right state of mind when working.
- Track your deep work.
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, suggests to maintain a tally or time log of when you start your deep work. It makes you more encouraged to continue deep work.
- Go easy on yourself.
Anxiety can appear as a result of procrastination. You can lower your standards temporarily and be accepting with making some progress. The key is to focus on “showing up” rather than reaching certain performance standards.
MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS
So many golden tips here! I personally have a morning routine with yoga, visualizations, walking outside and reading before working. During my walks, I like to open an educational podcast or audiobook. I definitely work best in the mornings and work no more than 90 minute sessions. I later refresh with some cardio and dancing so I can have another deep work session. I usually have no more than three most important tasks on my to-do list which includes Spanish learning, writing, and filming for YouTube. My office room is the only space I reserve time for deep work. I also allow myself 30 minutes of “shallow work” such as checking emails, messages and social media for about 2-3 times in a day.
I also have an accountability partner and life coach I found on Reddit accountability groups to make sure I’m making progress towards the specific goals I’ve set. As for distractions, I place my phone far away from me and turn off all notifications. I let my friends and family know beforehand about the specific times I will be focused on work and that I cannot be reached unless it’s an emergency. The night before, I like to prepare all my clothes for the next day to eliminate more decisions, schedule activities on my Google calendar and clean my desk as an end of day ritual. To completely close work, I journal to reflect on my success and failures for the day. Many of these habits and tips have helped me tremendously in making progress towards higher levels of productivity.
What are some productivity tips that have helped you? What are you working on currently?
SUMMARY OF BLOGS:
- 42 Productivity Habits to 10x Your Workflow by Jack Heimbigner
- 18 Habits of Highly Productive People: What Efficient People Have in Common by Benyamin Elias
- The 7 Essential Rituals for Focused Work by Scott H. Young
- How to Make the Most of Your Workday by Phyllis Korkki
- 14 Unique Productivity Tips: How to Be More Productive with Less Effort by Vanessa Van Edwards