Having just returned to work from maternity leave, I’ve developed a slight obsession with the word “productivity” (as well as an obsession for cake, but perhaps I’ll save that for another post).
Now that I have a little person, I have had to look at how I organise myself so I can be super productive — otherwise I run the risk of becoming overwhelmed.
This has subsequently led me to re-evaluate the way I work. I need to be able to focus and work as well as I can in the hours I have so I can leave work on time to be with my daughter. I need to be more productive, which has led me to research and test a few new ways to work.
Here are my 6 tips to help you instantly become more productive.
1. Start the day with a quick win
Is there something on your to-do list that wouldn’t take much time? Work on that first. Crossing off a task early in the day will give you a feeling of accomplishment. It will also give you the encouragement, enthusiasm and energy to go on and tackle your bigger tasks (aka “rocks”).
2. Don’t procrastinate
I used to put off the tasks I didn’t want to do — mainly because I wasn’t sure where to begin. What I’ve found is that they’re often not as bad as you think they’ll be. So instead of having it lurk at the back of your mind, get on with it. Stop procrastinating and get it done. You’ll feel a lot better afterwards — and quite rightly proud of yourself.
3. Don’t live in email
Instead, have a to-do list and know what you want to accomplish each day. This will help you feel like you are making good progress on projects. Sure, check email regularly if you need to, but don’t keep responding to every single email as soon as it enters your inbox. Know what your big rocks are and work on them.
4. Don’t multitask
It’s a myth. It does not work. Try and focus on the task at hand and do not be tempted to quickly reply to that email pop-up (unless it really is urgent). Swapping back and forth between tasks actually slows you down, as it takes longer for your brain to get back into “the zone”. Focus on one thing at a time and you’ll get more done in the time you have.
5. Save meetings for the afternoon
I find that I’m more productive in the mornings; therefore, I want to make sure that I have the least number of interruptions during this time. That means scheduling meetings for the afternoon whenever possible. Establish when your peak productivity times are and try to avoid meetings then.
6. Say no sometimes
You are responsible for managing your to-do list. You know what you need to do. If someone asks you to work on something and gives you an unrealistic deadline, suggest an alternative that works for you. If necessary, meet with your manager and work out what the top priorities are. Communicate frequently so your manager understands what you are working on. If they know you’re already tight on time, they may refrain from pushing that next project onto you and look for alternative solutions.
We are ultimately responsible for how we manage our time — be it in our private or working lives.
Take a step back and look at what is draining your time. What could be done differently to help you speed up a particular process? What do you want to accomplish today, tomorrow and this week? Set time aside to work on key tasks and try not to get distracted by incoming email and notifications on your mobile devices.
Keep communication lines open with your manager and work with them to illuminate the time-consuming “nice to have” tasks that might not need to be done.
I’d love to know what other productivity tips you have. Please leave a quick comment and let the sharing begin!