5 Tips to Maximize Your Productivity
Despite all of the gadgets and apps humans have developed to make themselves more efficient, most people still struggle to accomplish their agendas. In fact, since most workers now carry mobile devices everywhere they go, they often feel obligated to work from any place at any time. Every advance that people make in productivity seems to be driven backward by an increased workload. Life can turn into an eternal to-do list that never seems to end.
Books, podcasts, blogs and Internet empires have sprung up to help people become more productive. Whether they’re small entrepreneurs or MBA graduates (click this link to learn about graduate business schools), everyone wants to work smarter and faster. The secret has less to do with technology than it does with proven timesaving techniques. These five tips can help anyone to accomplish more during their workdays.
Make the Most of Your Mornings
Frank Lloyd Wright got up at 4 a.m. Margaret Thatcher was up by 5 a.m. These historical heavyweights are just two examples of the myriad successful artists, CEOs, government executives and other influential people who rise early every day. Jennifer Cohen, CEO of No Gym Required and national spokesperson for Weight Watchers, recommends these activities to kick off the morning:
- Exercise. Most people who exercise regularly exercise in the morning. Exercise gives a sense of accomplishment and a boost of energy at the beginning of the day.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Eating a quick bowl of oatmeal gives people a chance to socialize with their families on the way out the door. Breakfast also helps with concentration and makes it easier to eat healthily throughout the day.
- Make a schedule for the day. Use quiet, uninterrupted morning time to set the day’s priorities. When making a schedule for the day, remember to include breaks between activities, particularly if those activities are stressful.
- Visualize. Taking some time to visualize the day ahead can provide a sense of calm and mastery. Take time to close the eyes and breathe deeply while picturing the successes the day will bring.
Avoid Getting Buried by Email
Productivity expert Tim Ferriss says that email is “everyone else’s agenda for your time.” Spending the day responding to email makes people feel more productive than they actually are. People have different strategies for staying on top of email, but the worst strategy is to answer emails that contain manufactured emergencies all day long. Instead, set a timer for 15 minutes at the start of the day, after lunch and before leaving, and manage email during that time. Some people program their email tools to produce on-screen previews in case important messages come up. Others find previews disruptive and avoid email altogether.
Be Top Heavy
When mapping out the day’s schedule, people should prioritize the most important activities. Schedule unpleasant activities or activities that require extensive concentration during the morning hours. Most people don’t realize how much time gets gobbled up when transitioning between activities. Allowing constant interruptions for non-priority problems creates multiple transitions in and out of activities and wastes time.
Schedule Fewer but More-Effective Meetings
Meetings are notorious time-wasters — if they aren’t planned and run authoritatively. Productive people get more done in fewer, shorter meetings. Set an agenda for each meeting, explain its context and tell attendees what the result should be. Start with difficult and more dramatic issues both to draw people into the meeting and to encourage prolonged engagement.
Limit Time Spent Online
A quick check of a New York Times article can develop into a lengthy Internet session. Turn off push notifications from social media and other apps that can disrupt valuable time. Several programs can hold workers accountable for how much time they spend online. For example, one Google Chrome extension called “StayFocusd” alerts people after they’ve spent 10 minutes on a site and then blocks the tempting URL.
Change won’t happen overnight, but people who adopt these tips can make radical improvements to their productivity. Pick one tip and try it for a week. If it works, then choose another to gradually build into your work life.
About the Author:
Dominique Rodriguez is a life coach who helps clients to become more focused and productive.
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