Do you find your productivity dipping from time to time? It happens to everyone and can go up and down depending on what’s going on in your life. Productivity comes from setting goals, learning to work efficiently and knowing how to relax. I’m fortunate enough to be very efficient, even on little sleep. I don’t know when I became this way, but I can effectively go through an amount of work that’s mind boggling to some. People that know me call me a machine. I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not! It’s hard to notice when I have a dip in productivity, but when it happens, it shocks me, so I quickly have to refocus, replan and prioritize. These are some of the steps to help boost productivity, even during the toughest times.
Planning can help keep you on track and focused on achieving the things you need to get done, which is a large part of being productive.
- Create longer-term plans to determine what you want to accomplish in the next three to six months.
- Use Sunday evenings to make short-term plans to cover what you need to do during the week. Your short-term plans should also include the steps you need to achieve your longer-term objectives.
- In the evenings, make a to-do list of the five most important things you have to do for the next day.
Before you start any project or responsibility, evaluate how it relates to your job or personal goals. Divide responsibilities into three categories:
- Essential 2. Important 3. Nice-to- Do
When prioritizing, ask yourself why you’re doing a particular activity. How urgent is it? Can it be given to someone else or done at a later time?
Consider your most critical work and personal time commitments. On busy days, you may need to compromise. For example, if you have a report due the next day, you may have to forgo the dinner out and eat at home instead.
Do your most demanding work when your energy is at its peak and save less challenging work for other times.
- Break large jobs into smaller ones.
- Plan some time each day when you can work without interruptions, for example, block chunks of time off as an appointment so it can’t be booked by someone else. Screen phone calls and learn how to handle unexpected visitors.
- Say no to things that don’t support your work or personal goals.
- If you commute and aren’t driving, use that time to get things done or plan your next day.
Stay focused on what’s important for your work and personal goals.
- Create monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists.
- Set up reminders in your phone, or use a calendar and check it daily to review your activities and avoid conflicts.
- Clean up. Reduce clutter in your workspace, living space and car (if you have one). Chaos can affect your ability to find things, which can also make you late and frustrated.
- Manage your messages, texts, and email. Keep only the essential items and information you need and archive everything else that you may need at a later date.
- Delete or throw away duplicate information.
Things always take longer to do than you think. If you’re chronically late, people may believe that you’re disorganized, can’t plan properly, or that you simply don’t care enough to show up on time.
Try setting your alarm, phone or watch ahead 10-15 minutes. It’s a trick that works well for some people (especially once they’ve forgotten that they’ve set their time ahead).
If you’re extremely late, think about getting up an hour earlier every day, especially if you try to cram more into your day than you can truly handle. However, if that’s the case, you should be more realistic about how much you can manage in one day, and try to reduce unnecessary things.
Relaxing really should be number one, as it’s my top choice! Remember to have fun along the way. It’s important to unwind to minimize the chance of burning out and becoming unproductive.
- Make time to exercise and spend time with your family and friends.
- Make yourself a priority. You need to spend some time by yourself. If you don’t already do it, develop interests and activities that you can do by yourself including working out, reading or learning something new.
- If you find it hard to squeeze fun time in with everything else you have to do, try scheduling the time into your day. Scheduling may not sound like much fun – but it does help to make sure you get to it!
What are some of your tips for keeping up your productivity?