So far in our series of blogs relating to productivity, we’ve looked at why people procrastinate and how doing so affects your business. There really are so many ways we can be distracted from the tasks we really need to get done. So, what can we do about this? How can we be more productive?
The best things about increasing productivity is the feeling of achievement it brings, and the following increased motivation. Try some of these techniques to get you in a more productive frame of mind and crash through those attention barriers.
1. Time your tasks and take breaks
When it comes to how to be more productive, this is really important. All too often, people leave great gaps of time unaccounted for. They might have a ‘to do list’ of sorts, and a number of tasks they plan to work through. But there are no boundaries with that list. Instead, decide how long you want to dedicate to a task – and don’t be too generous! You can get a lot more done in 45 minutes that you realise.
Once you’ve decided your timescales for different tasks, you can now plan in your breaks. Some short, 5 or 10 minute breaks are great for breaking up morning or afternoon chunks of working. But make sure to put in the larger breaks for lunch or a walk.
2. Create a deadline
If you’re working on a larger goal, decide when you want to get it done by. These bigger, project-type goals can really drag on endlessly when they really needn’t. So take time to consider, when you want things done by. What are your timescales? What does doing this lead to and when do you want to be moving on to the next thing? Be firmer with yourself and impose your own deadlines, then plan accordingly to meet the one.
3. Do the difficult things first
None of us love dealing with difficult things. And in true procrastination style, we love to put them off. But this makes them loom ever larger before!! All that happens when you put these things off, is they become great big issues that get in our way. Instead, look at what you’ve decided to get done each day, and tackle the things you least want to do first. I promise you’ll feel better, more productive and more motivated for it.
4. Plan the night before
If you’re seeking ways to be more productive, going to bed with a clear head and clear plan for the next day is so helpful. It helps you to avoide procrastination. Personally, I like to get my planning for the next day done at the end of the previous one. That way, I can shut off from work and focus on other things without worrying about what I need to be doing the next morning. Plus, you are more focused when you switch everything on the next day because you already made a plan and know where to start.
5. Have a master list
… and not an enormous to do list. I see this again and again with coaching clients. A huge to-do list that gets shifted from day to day just leaves you in a spin, and not knowing where to start. Instead, keep one running master list in one place (I like to do this in my Bullet Journal so I always know where it is). Each day, check in with that master list and see if anything from it can be tasked to that day. As with the point above, I like to do this the night before when I’m planning for the next day.
6. Plan to do the 3 most important things each day
Leading on from the last point, when you create your plan of action for the next day, avoid the temptation to overload your list. Stick to the main things that need to get done – you’ll often over achieve, and can take more from that master list, which is a great feeling! Many people will say that picking just 3 Most Important Tasks and getting those done is the best approach.
7. Avoid multi-tasking
It is true that many women congratulate themselves on being such amazing multi-taskers. And we are! However… we need to know when multi-tasking is useful and when it is a hindrance. When it comes to productivity, we are much more efficient when we take it one task at a time. Multi-tasking at this time just leads to increased distractions and increased procrastination as it becomes increasingly harder to work out where to focus.
8. Turn off distractions
They say it takes us 45 minutes to refocus our attention after an interruption such as picking up our phone and looking at a message or social media. That’s a lot of wasted time! When it’s time to focus, turn off the distractions. If needs be, put your phone in another room, or use apps that restrict your access to social media, and most definitely turn off notifications or use flight mode! Less distractions = greater productivity.
9. Stop waiting until things are perfect
Our need to be a perfectionist is a true way to procrastinate and put things off. At Tabono, we are fond of saying “progress not perfection”. We know that getting it done and out there is a much way better than chasing after the idea of perfection. We just cannot be productive if we’re putting things off because they’re not quite right. This also stops us from moving on to the next step of a task or project.
10. Think about your surroundings
When it comes to being more productive, where we work is important. If you’re in a cluttered, make-shift space, without the things you need for your work around you, productivity is a lot more challenging. Even if you don’t have your own office and have to work from the kitchen table for instance, still aim to be a ready for a productive day as possible. A simple example would be moving any ‘work equipment’ you might need to a nearby cupboard for easy access and not having to trek around the house looking for items you need.
Things like natural light, or effective artificial light, and your view are important. If you have no view, use house plants and other aesthetically pleasing items to brighten your space and enhance your productivity.
So there you have it – our 10 tips on how to be more productive! If you put any of them into practice, let us know how you get on! We’d love to hear about it.