10 Tips to get you to Your Best Productivity
Most people believe that productivity is simply about getting more done in less time, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about changing our way of being, our habits and altering our perceptions.
Here are 10 top tips to help get you closer to where you want to be.
- Plan your day the night before
Take 15 minutes every evening to plan the following day. Write a list of your key priorities, block them into your calendar and/or create a mind map with your key objectives and actionable items for the day ahead. Transferring our thoughts and ideas in this way will result in a sound night’s sleep because we already know exactly what our day ahead beholds and exactly how we’re going to tackle it.
- Block out distraction free work times
Block out distraction free working blocks in your calendar during which you focus on one project only. Emailing, phone calls, internet browsing and social media are completely off limits. Turn off or mute all notifications and ensure you are based somewhere where no one can disturb you. Ensure any possible intruders are aware that you are not to be disturbed during this time.
- Take time out for yourself every day
Take at least 15 minutes to an hour every day to clear your head and boost your happiness levels by doing something you enjoy, whether that’s reading a book, walking the dog, exercising or shopping. It will restore your motivation and works as a great incentive.
- Work to calming sounds
Whether its rain or wave sounds, bird noises, calming music or David Attenborough’s voice, play something in the background whilst working that keeps you calm and focused. Noisli provides soothing sounds from wind to rain to fire that it claims boost productivity. Coffivity recreates the ambience of a café to heighten your creativity levels. Hipstersound helps you stay on track by recreating the café vibe, and Soundrown offers a range of soothing sounds from the coffee shop, waves, rain, fire and birds. Another personal favourite of mine are ASMR YouTube videos, which stands for ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’. One could characterise it as a very calming sensation that washes over you triggered by certain sounds. It’s difficult to explain to those who do not or have not experienced it so all I can suggest is watch a video and see for yourself.
- Take a holiday
Working yourself into the ground is not exactly the best recipe for success. All it does is lead to resentment, fatigue, boredom and burnout, not a great combination for the ultimate blend of productivity and effectiveness. Taking a break does not mean all you’ve worked so hard to build is going to collapse and dissipate, with careful planning you can afford to indulge yourself now and then. Travel somewhere new, breathe and reflect. On return you’ll be rewired and ready to go.
- Design your week in advance
I recommend using a spread sheet to block out sections throughout the day for your work and leisure time. Schedule in everything, an hour of yoga first thing, followed by an hour of project work, an hour for blogging/social media and so forth. The first time you do this you may wish to simply track what you are currently doing during your week. This will give you a realistic view of how you are spending your time and you’ll be better placed to identify what needs changing. You can then strategically re-design your ideal week in order to maximise your achievements, ensuring of course that you hit the right balance of work and personal time.
- Set goals and review them regularly
Goals give us direction, purpose and help with remembering the ‘why’ in what we’re aiming to accomplish. They keep us on track and reward us with immense gratification once attained. Setting both short and long term goals is not as crucial as the process of breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps that we integrate into our daily routine, so that every day we’re taking action to move us closer and closer to our end point. Furthermore goals must be revisited and re-evaluated on a regular basis, every 3 months for example.
- Make use of the plethora of tools available
There are umpteen productivity tools and apps available it’s like a playground for productivity addicts, so try, test and see which ones work best for you. I favour TeuxDeux for scheduling tasks, it’s simple yet particularly commendable for its drag and drop feature which enables tasks to be easily transferred from one day or list to another without any loss of order. Wunderlist deserves a mention because it exhibits an elegant design, it’s free, available on every major platform, is great for organising large projects as well as delegating tasks to others. I cannot stress enough how much I love Trello for task management. It’s aesthetically pleasing and you can spend more time making it look prettier with its many features including colour coding, tags, labels and checklists. It’s simplicity of use makes coordinating complex projects a pleasurable experience, and it’s board feature makes it easy to implement structure by staging tasks, moving them from one to another. World Time Buddy is highly intuitive, simple and facilitates the organisation of meetings with people in different time zones. For those who are super serious about productivity there’s Focus Booster which is based on the Pomodoro technique. In essence, you use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks, such as 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. RescueTime acts as a barrier to procrastination by helping us to understand our daily habits then sets goals based on how productive we classify each task to be. It runs in the background on our computer or mobile and keeps track of how much time we’re spending on different apps and websites.
- Learn from the best and continue educating yourself
Take advantage of the myriad of online resources and reading material available so that your bank of productivity tactics never runs dry. Here’s a few I can vouch for. Apply and blend some of the ideas to form the perfect system that will catapult your productivity to sky high levels.
- David Allen’s ‘Getting things Done’ (both the book and the blog)
- ‘Get Productive!: Boosting your Productivity and Getting things done’ by Magdalena Bak-Maier.
- ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg.
- ‘The ONE Thing’: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results’ by Gary Keller
- ‘Mastery’ by Robert Greene.
- ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ by Simon Sinek (Check out the Start With Why Blog too).
- ‘Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat’ by Michael Masterson
- ‘The Success Principles: How to Get from Where you are to Where You Want to Be’ by Jack Canfield.
- ‘Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done’ by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.
- ‘The Power of Positive Habits’ by Dan Robey
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