I’m not sure why I’ve been on such a “productivity kick” lately. I think it started when I realized that after leaving the job and having so much more time on my hands, I’m was still so “busy.” I didn’t understand it! I was almost as busy after leaving the 9-5 job as I was when I was working full time.
Granted, I was getting a lot more done, but I wanted to get better about organizing my time and improve my productivity so I didn’t feel like I was working ALL THE TIME. I came up with these five productivity tips. They have helped my time management immensely and I hope they help you as well!
- Stop multi-tasking.
This one is a little tricky, especially for people (like me) who are easily distracted. Halfway through writing a blog article, email, or scheduling something on Facebook something else will pop into my head that I need to get done. It never fails. And every time I’m tempting to jump over to that task and work on both simultaneously. Multi-tasking…I’ll get more done right?
Every time you bounce from project to project multi-tasking you’re actually getting less done because each changing of gears wastes time/productivity.
Did you know that if you are working on just two tasks at the same time that you lose 20% of your time? You spend 40% of your time/energy on each of those two tasks and the other 10% is spent getting back into the project. You’re better off completing the task at hand and THEN moving on to the next. You’ll be far more productive! And remember, the more you bounce from project to project, the less focused you’ll be.
One easy solution for this is to keep a pad of paper on hand and write those things down to do later. By writing it down you eliminate the risk of forgetting it altogether, but you also stay on task with what you’re trying to get done.
- Make a to-do list the night before.
This is my FAVORITE tip because it works SO WELL. By writing your to-do list at night before you go to bed (and keeping it by your bed in case you think of anything after you lay down), you’re more likely to include those more tedious tasks that you don’t really want to do.
Why, you ask? Because the night before, you’re still able to put it off for tomorrow. Tomorrow seems far enough away that you can talk yourself into doing it the NEXT DAY. <wink> And yet, by writing it down you’re holding yourself accountable to actually getting it down the next day.
Also, note an H (High Priority), M (Medium Priority) and L (Low Priority) next to each item on your list. Put the items that are highest priority at the beginning of your day (or maybe the time when you know you’re most alert and focused, whichever works for you).
- Schedule your time.
This is another tip I love that helps me stay on track. You schedule appointments on your calendar, so why not schedule your time?
Every night, under my to-do list, I make a schedule for myself for what I want to get accomplished during the day and at what times. By writing it down, I’m far more likely to stay focused and keep myself on task because I’m trying to get everything done within specific blocks of time.
This may not work for you (and it doesn’t always work out perfectly for me – a blog post may take longer than I anticipate, etc.) but it does provide a good general guideline. Another idea is to just commit to working on a specific task until complete.
Which brings me to my next tip…
- Break big projects into chunks.
Let’s say you put on your to-do list: create new training program. Well that can be kind of overwhelming, right? Yes, you may know what you need to do to accomplish that task, but still…it could take days or even weeks to finish something like that!
Instead, break a big project like that into bite-sized pieces. Instead of “create new training program,” maybe have “plan modules” or “create module 1 slides.” Breaking up big projects into pieces will eliminate the likelihood that you’re going to be overwhelmed and yet will still help you get through those big projects much more quickly.
- Eliminate distractions.
I think that this is where that schedule or “stay on task” element comes into play. If you know that you have a set period of time to get through something you’ll be less likely to get distracted by Facebook, your cell phone or some other time wasting habit.
But just to be on the safe side, when you’re starting a project and need to stay on task: close your email, close Facebook and any other social media networks, put your phone on silent, and resist the temptation to touch any of those things until you’re finished. When you’re finished and moving from one task to another, that’s the perfect time to go back and check your email or look at your phone.
Also, a clear space will help with a clear mind. Is your desk cleaned off? How about your desktop? Are you working at the kitchen table with kids running around? Or are you off by yourself where you can be distraction-free for a period of time? Those things make a big difference.
While it’s not always possible, do your best to find a place to work where you’ll be free from distractions and you can focus, even if only for an hour or two. Trust me, you’ll be far more productive during that short time than you will be spending hours in a room with distractions.
These are just a few of the productivity tips I use in my life, but there are obviously many more. What do you do to be as productive as possible in your day?