In today’s digital age, it’s difficult to stay focused and avoid distractions. With so many different social media platforms and always having something extra to do, you’re bound to lose track. This has a direct impact on your productivity, which is why the question of how to be more productive always stays relevant.
An important thing to understand about productivity is that being productive doesn’t always mean fitting everything in your schedule and getting overwhelmed. Often times, all it means is to get more done in less time.
Which is why today we have pulled together a list of tried and tested ways of becoming more productive. The tips will surely help you get going through the day without having a lot on your plate at the end of the day.
Before jumping on the bandwagon of blindly following how to be productive techniques, bear in mind that all of these may not work for you. But, a few tweaks here and there can work and you can go a long way.
So, the question of the day is: how to be more productive?
How to Be More Productive at Work
1. Apply the 80/20 Principle to life
The 80/20 Principle, or popularly known as the Pareto Principle is a great way to boost your productivity. The principle infers that 80% of your overall productivity is derived from 20% of your tasks. That is, only a small fraction of your tasks actually contribute to the output of your work.
In order to become productive, you need to identify this 20% and get to work. Do them the first thing and you’ll notice a considerable difference in your efficiency. Focus on your most important goals and dedicate most of your time to them.
Another famous phenomenon associated with 80/20 rule is Mark Twain’s eat the biggest frog first. So, basically, if you right away deal with the things you don’t want to do, but actually need to, you have done half of your work right there.
Although the technique won’t work like a magic pill, it sure will make you more productive and help you get things done faster.
2. Avoid multi-tasking
If you’re someone who wears multiple hats simultaneously, you know how difficult it can become at times. Being busy with different things at the same time doesn’t mean you’re being productive. It simply implies that you want to get a lot done at once. Obviously, when you concentrate on too many things at the same time, you actually lose focus at all of them.
There have been multiple studies stating that multi-tasking actually kills your productivity and only 2% of the human population can pull off multitasking. Another interesting study reveals that multitasking can make our productivity drop by as much as 40%. Yes, you heard that right!
It is, therefore, important to direct your attention to one task at a time. Avoid multitasking to enhance your productivity. Take up the task at hand and pay full attention to it. You might think this would result in getting fewer things done, but the opposite is true. Fully focusing on one task makes you complete it in less time than expected, leaving you more room to do other things.
3. Prioritize your tasks
Another great way to address the question of how to be more productive is to prioritize your tasks. The practice will help you identify and prioritize tasks. To get started, make a list of all of your tasks and keep your focus on your goals. The due dates also play an important part in prioritizing them. These due dates are directly in charge of what you need to do right now and what can be delayed for some time.
You also need to keep in mind that your priorities should be directly aligned with your project goals and your overall company goals. If you’re not sure how to start, evaluate your company’s OKRs and KPIs. They’ll surely give you a jump start to be more productive.
One great way to prioritize your tasks is to use the famous Eisenhower Matrix. Exactly pinpoint your tasks’ priorities on the basis of their urgency and timely execute them without going nuts.
4. Create a workflow for tracking progress
There’s no denying the fact that your productivity can go downhill if you don’t have any work tracking system in place. Your hours and hours of hard work are going to waste if you’re not creating a workflow for evaluating your performance. You wouldn’t want that, right?
Keeping a record of what’s happening around allows you to keep an eye on major events and how you’ve been performing over time. Furthermore, it also enables you to detect any loopholes along the way to making smarter decisions.
To make your time at work most productive, invest in a professional project management tool right now. There’s plenty in the market that’ll be extremely useful even if you’re a beginner.
Finding a reliable tool can be a hassle, therefore to get started, try nTask. A free project management software which fits perfectly with individuals as well as teams. The intuitive UI and built-in modules will allow you to create that perfect workflow and smoothly glide through your operations.
Another tool that can help to organize your workflows is Markup Hero. It is a fast and easy tool to capture ideas, get feedback, and communicate clearly using screenshots and file annotations.
5. Identify your peak energy hours
You might have heard from people around you that they’re most productive during certain hours of the day only. This stands true for everyone because you can’t expect someone to be productive throughout the day.
The idea generates from individual body clocks. According to these clocks, individual productivity levels vary from person to person at different times. It’s important to understand your natural body cycle and figure out when are you most productive during the day.
Identify your peak energy hours and plan your tasks around them. Get the most out of your day by working on high priority tasks during those hours. By doing so, you can achieve more in less time and can master the skill of completing your work on time.
So, the fact that mornings are most productive may not hold true for you. Whatever time that is, make sure you work the most during them and see a drastic improvement in your productivity.
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6. Take regular breaks
It may come off as a surprise, but taking regular breaks during your work can have a positive influence on your productivity. If you’re struggling to find the answer of how to be more productive, this is one of the answers.
Taking short breaks during your long working hours refreshes your mind. It gives you an instant shot of inspiration you’ve been waiting to get hit with. Besides, there are numerous health hazards associated with prolonged sitting. So, when you get up and take a small break, you’re breaking the monotony and giving your mind and body the boost it craves.
An interesting technique closely related to this is the Pomodoro technique. The technique advises maintaining a workflow with regular breaks in between. The standard practice is to divide your work into equal intervals and take a break after every 25 minutes. Sounds great, right?
7. Make a to-do list
Often times, we get overwhelmed by the amount of work we are swamped with. This can result in getting minimum work done due to the huge pileup of work lies ahead. The best solution? A to-do list app!
You may not realize it, but you need to make a to-do list right away if you want to be more productive. Having a consolidated view of what needs to be done during the day makes it easy for you to stay focused. Although it may come off as a cliché to most of you, if you list down your to-dos for the day, you don’t get distracted.
One more way this can work is to not only write the things you need to do but the ones you don’t need to do as well. There are many things which do not need your attention and you’re just wasting your energies focusing on them. List them down. They’re usually right there under your nose, so it’s not difficult to pitch them.
Also, this how-to be productive tip works in direct correlation with the 80/20 rule. Spare some time out of your schedule and jot down that 20% of the important to-dos right now and get to work.
8. Take time out to exercise
Workplace productivity and exercise go side by side. As much as you dislike it, if you want to be more productive, you have to exercise. How does that work? You may ask. Exercising regularly increases the blood flow to your brain which can help you increase your awareness. It also boosts your cognitive abilities, resulting in better decision making.
All in all, exercising doesn’t always have to be about losing weight or staying in shape. As much as that matters, there are greater gains associated with it. Enhanced productivity is one of them. There’s statistical evidence to prove the point that employees should workout during lunch breaks.
Having said that, you don’t have to do intense workouts for your productivity to kick in. Just a quick 30 minutes session every day should be enough to get you on track.
9. Reflect back on your actions
If you’re not regularly reviewing your actions to see what’s working, you won’t find ways to move forward. It’s all a pointless hustle if you don’t learn from your actions. In order to continually grow and staying relevant at the same time, it’s imperative to focus on reflection.
An essential part of how to be more productive is to take some time out for regular reviewing. The process doesn’t necessarily have to include complex reviewing procedures. Just a few minutes every week should do the trick. If you work with a team, daily stand-up meetings are a great way to review your actions without spending a considerable amount of time.
Research shows that reflecting on your actions actually improves your productivity and hence, impacts your performance over time. It also paves ways for setting smarter goals, and identification of problem areas.
So, don’t shy away from looking back, and learn from your experiences.
10. Read some productivity blogs
If all else fails, look up some great productivity blogs and absorb the goodness. Chances are, you’ll find some motivation to get on track and work on improving your productivity. Now, you must be thinking I’ll recommend some productivity gurus or enthusiasts to you (some other time for that).
You don’t have to spend hours reading the blogs. Just skim through them and you’ll definitely be doing your productivity some kind of favor. But don’t think that reading alone will translate into some magic potion of productivity. You have to make some considerable changes to your life for it to work the way you want.
What do you do to stay productive during the day? Share your ideas with us and let us know if you want to include them in this list.