As a former productivity analyst and manager, let me tell you that one of the biggest causes of inefficiency is interruptions. (As I wrote this first sentence the phone rang…no kidding!). Since people have asked me how to improve productivity, I am sharing a few suggestions that can help you be more productive with your time.
How to be more productive?
The first thing is to ensure that you have clearly established measurable goals. Once these are in place, there are a few things to keep in mind when you are planning your day, to improve productivity, in relation to your goals. Note: Feel free to print my free goal setting template to help you stay focused.
1. Prioritize what you need to do, based on what you are trying to achieve. For example, if one of your goals is to write a paper or blog post, and another goal is to respond to emails in 24 hours, and another is cook dinner, you will have to pick which is more important at this given time. Yes, sometimes you can multi-task, but only if the tasks are relatively simple, but the truth is, our minds are not able to multitask effectively.
2. Determine how much time to allocate to each task, then schedule blocks of time for each tasks. So if I have 1 hour to do three different tasks, it helps to estimate how long each task will take so that I can plan accordingly. If the three tasks combined will take me 2 hours, something needs to change. It also helps if you can add a little bit more time when estimating your time block, because a little free time can be a welcome gift.
3. Control your environment as much as possible. If you can, do not answer the phone, check your cell phone or read email when you are focusing on a task. This means closing the other tabs on your computer at work. While this may not always be possible, try to eliminate as many distractions as possible. If you are at work and can shut your door or put a Do Not Disturb sign, it can help reduce face to face interruptions.
4. Check your email just a handful of times a day. If you check your email constantly, it will distract you from your other tasks, most likely they will be tasks that do not even relate to your own goals. Set up a scheduled time to review and whip through those babies within a set end time. Tip: Before you read your emails, take note of your goals for the day. This will help you in your focus and approach to emails. When you are focused on responding to emails, you tend to be more productive in responding. See more email organization tips here.
5. If you are a digital marketer or blogger, consider scheduling some of your social media posts in advance so that you are not on these programs dozens of times a day. Unless your job is in social media, you probably do not want to be on these platforms more than you need to be, at least until you have accomplished your other tasks. Social media will take up a lot of your time if you let it.
6. Make sure to set aside time for yourself. If you do not schedule breaks or downtime, it will catch up with you and cause you to be frustrated. Get outside for some fresh air and take in the beauty of the day. Unplug for a while. A clear mind does wonders for productivity.
What helps you be productive?