We’ve all been there. Another work day has seemingly escaped you. Your to-do list has only gotten longer because you are lacking in the productivity department.
You had all these good intentions to get a ton done. Perhaps planned to finish the one or two big projects that have been hanging over your head.
Yet, here you are again, disappointed with the day’s output and hoping for better results tomorrow.
The problem is, hope is not a strategy. You will probably keep getting the same mediocre results unless you do something different.
The good news is there is a better way. There is a way to make the most of each day and actually accomplish more meaningful work in less time.
Over the past decade, I’ve become a somewhat of a student of productivity. Early in my career, I passively drifted through each day without giving it much thought. However, I wasn’t happy with the results. I knew that the only way to realize my full potential and maximize my output was to be more intentional with my time and energy.
After much trial and error, I have found these 4 productivity hacks to have been the most helpful in my daily life:
You never want to start your day without a plan. Ambiguity is the enemy of productivity.
Instead, try to determine the three most important goals for your day and be specific with what you want to accomplish with each of them.
For example, “blog” is not a very good goal. A better goal is to “research and write a blog post on productivity.” Being specific will help keep you from working on unrelated or unimportant tasks.
Batch processing involves devoting blocks of time during your day to work on similar tasks. The reason this is effective is that batch processing allows you to maximize concentration and limit distractions. Studies have shown that every time you become distracted, it can take up to 15 minutes to regain your focus.
Especially when it comes to your 3 main goals for the day, make sure to allot the necessary amount of time and space to complete them.
An example of batch processing would be to schedule a few meetings with direct reports back-to-back or spending a chunk of time returning the calls from your voicemail inbox.
The best way to implement batch processing is to plan for it by actually putting it on your calendar. In fact, I recommend scheduling every minute of your day to the best of your ability.
This technique is probably the one that has had the greatest impact on my own productivity. I schedule everything from the full-day offsite retreat to the 15 minutes I’ll need to craft and send an email to one of my volunteers.
Sure, things will come up and you’ll need to be flexible, but you can at least start the day optimistic for what you want it to look like. I recommend using an online calendar such as iCal, google calendar, or Outlook that syncs to your phone or tablet as well.
As the saying goes, if you plan your work and work your plan, the plan will work!
It’s inevitable that small interruptions or tasks will pop up during the day. How do you know whether you should handle them right away or take care of them later?
Simple. If the task will take 2 minutes or less to complete, take care of it immediately! You will only “waste” 2 minutes of your time and you’ll be glad to have it over.
If it will take longer than 2 minutes, add it to your to-do list and do it later.
So there you have it, 4 simple yet powerful techniques that, if implemented in your life, can help you move more items from your “to-do list” to your “done list.”
Refuse to drift through another disappointing day and start living each day with greater intentionality.
Which of these productivity hacks can you try out today or tomorrow as you seek greater results?
Have you found other ways to achieve greater productivity in your own life? If so, please share in the comments below!
September 12, 2017
Leadership Personal Development