This article is part of my attempt to share my personal systems that help me organise my life and be more productive. I have always struggled with time management and productivity, but over the last year, this has changed. I have become obsessed with productivity, and as a result, I have achieved more in the last year than any other. From growing our agency and expanding to new countries, writing a book, learning to windsurf to spending more time with loved ones. Changing your habits seems hard in the moment, but once you have implemented these tips, the reward is more productive hours in your day, allowing more time for yourself, family and friends.
These are my simple tips—the do’s and don’ts—to increase your productivity and get things done.
Start Your Day with a To-Do List
Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day jotting down what needs to be completed first. Then, look at the list and determine which of those tasks needs to be completed first, second, and so on. Having a high level overview of what needs to be accomplished allows you to prioritise your actions and get the most important things done first.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln
Recommended to-do list app: Wunderlist
Focus on One Task at a Time
Rather than stopping and starting that comes with changing tasks, keep your focus in the same direction with one task at a time.
Recommended app: OneTask
Often, when pressed for time, we skip meals—I tend to do this. When we go long periods of time without eating, we are essentially depriving our brain of the fuel it needs. This makes it harder to focus and be productive. Eating, even a small snack, will increase your blood sugar and make it easier for you to focus and get things done. Try to keep snacks on hand that have both complex carbohydrates and protein. Fruit and nuts are a good idea.
Drink More Water
Your body is composed mostly of water. When you are not drinking enough throughout the day, your body is in a constant state of dehydration, and consequently, you cannot focus. Keep your body in balance and drink several glasses of water daily. Keep it at your desk when you’re working.
Use Music to Your Advantage
Music is a powerful influence on both mood and productivity. Use Brain.fm to focus when you work. Brain.fm has used neuro-scientific principles to design music to increase your productivity, relaxation, and sleep cycles.
Streamline Your Phone Communications
Setting up appointments is often a time consuming project. Sometimes numerous emails go back and forth before everyone agrees on a time for a meeting. To streamline this process, get a scheduler such as Calendly to schedule appointments. This will show your availability and lets the other person choose a time that works for them. They can schedule the appointment right then and there. Any meeting that is scheduled should have an agenda. Sticking to the agenda will avoid meetings that go on forever, but don’t actually accomplish anything.
Stop Doing Everything Yourself and Start Outsourcing
Finally, you must consider that even at your most productive, you simply cannot do everything. Think carefully about outsourcing certain tasks. These can be tasks that are easy to accomplish or you simply don’t want to do. This frees you up to spend your time in your zone of genius. There are virtual assistants who can handle just about any aspect of your businesss, besides being you. Virtual assistants can take over a multitude of tasks for you. This includes managing your schedule, responding to emails, travel arrangements, research, etc.
Recommended app: Upwork
Don’t Waste Your Time on Mobile Devices
Don’t install useless apps or games, unless absolutely necessary. Don’t get drawn into the social media and Internet time trap. Bookmark sites or Facebook links you find interesting and want to look into further. Save them for later when you have the time to devote to them. Come back to them at a designated time or when you are stuck waiting somewhere.
Recommended app: Noosfer
In today’s digital era due to social media and its habit of bombarding us with useless information, it has become almost impossible to avoid distractions.
Here are some examples of how you can avoid distractions:
- Use a do not disturb option on your phone and turn off your notifications.
- If your phone is ringing and you’re busy, let them leave a message.
- Check your email and make calls at designated times.
- Create templates for any responses you send frequently.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” -Winston S. Churchill
Avoid Unnecessary, Lengthy Interactions
If you find yourself involved in a lengthy phone conversation, let them know that you need to go and ask them to send you the details in an email. You can then deal with this email when it is convenient for you. Being ruthless with your time takes some practice, but it is well worth it in the end.
Do you have any other tips that you use for increasing your productivity? Let me know in the comments.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.