Productivity is a hot topic within the business world. At its most basic productivity is a measure of the number of things that can be accomplished per unit of time. For a business the more that can be done per unit time, the more money they make.
While businesses pay close attention to productivity, many people don’t utilize the same lens to assess their workflows. For individuals, there is a misconception that getting more done involves long hours and drudging through your work. This is commonly referred to as the grind and only focuses on brute force and longer days to get through your tasks.
In reality, there are more than enough hours in a day to complete most tasks when they are planned out accordingly. By increasing your productivity you can increase the number of things you get done without sacrificing your health and leisure time. Below are productivity secrets that you can implement to effectively increase your productivity.
Get a head start on your morning
Many people are convinced that waking up at five in the morning is the productivity solution. While this may work for some, it is not a fix-all solution to allowing you to get more things done in a day. No matter when you wake up, you need to get the same amount of sleep each night to function at your very best.
Getting a head start on your morning is not about getting up earlier, but rather getting you awake and functioning earlier. Both night owls and early birds can benefit from getting a better start to their day.
Waking up can be a drag for most people where you don’t even fully feel awake until several hours into your workday. Those hours that are spent half asleep at your desk represent wasted potential.
A great way to better your morning routine is to get exposed to natural light. Natural light is a powerful tool that can be effectively utilized to help you wake up in the morning. Your body runs on an internal clock known as your circadian rhythm. Natural light is a key stimulus that tells your body that it is time to wake up.
Plan out your days
A large part of productivity is proper time management. To get the most out of every day there needs to be prep work into planning. A great productivity hack is to plan out your day the night before. Planning it out the night before is beneficial because it can reduce any anxiety that you feel before you go to bed.
As an example, consider that you have an approaching presentation for work. Rather than sitting in bed worrying about it, you can plan to have a practice run the following day. Knowing that you have set aside time to get to it can reduce your anxiety and can allow you to get a better night’s sleep.
Utilize a time block schedule
Block schedules are a great tool to utilize for productivity. A block schedule provides a visual representation of your planned days. A block schedule includes the days of the week and a clock of sorts. A block schedule forces you to assign a time frame to a task and can help visualize what you are doing in a week.
Having a visual representation of your schedule can help to improve your productivity by ensuring your schedule is evenly distributed and doesn’t contain considerable amounts of time where you will be left twiddling your thumbs.
Work within your limits
Productivity can sometimes seem like you are just jamming more things in your day. While you can technically try and do it all in a day, it really isn’t the most practical and sustainable.
An important aspect of increasing your productivity is being aware of your limitations. When in a work environment it can be easy to get caught up in trying to do it all and help everyone out. While in the short term extending yourself is okay, it can lead to being overworked and burnout in the long run.
To stay productive for the long run you need to find out what your limits are for what you can accomplish in a day. With a general understanding of what is possible to do in a day, you can schedule your time to ensure you are not being overworked. When others need help it is also okay to help them when it fits into your schedule. Not immediately saying yes but seeing when you can dedicate time to help a fellow coworker is beneficial because you are able to set aside designated time to truly help them and ensure it doesn’t impact your own work.
Limit all distractions
The main factor that people deal with when trying to improve their productivity is distractions. With working from home becoming more prevalent, distractions are taken to the next level. Screaming kids, the temptation to scroll your personal computer, your comfy couch, and even your partner can become distractions that pull your attention away from the work at hand.
Limiting distractions, especially while working from home is paramount in improving your productivity. The less time you give your attention to distraction, the more time you can utilize it to get work done. Setting clear expectations with family and buying a good set of noise-canceling headphones can go a long way.
It can be tempting to half work while working from home, but ultimately at some point, you need to make up time to get those tasks done. If you succumb to distractions during the workday, it will most likely eat into your leisure time and will ultimately pull you away from those important moments.
Utilize a working cycle
Work cycles at their most basic is a way to organize your work into bite-sized chunks. The Pomodoro technique utilizes 25 minute work periods followed by 5-minute breaks. After four consecutive work cycles, you are allotted a longer break. Because of the way the time is set up, you get a longer break about every 2 hours.
During the work periods, you are only allowed to do work. No checking email, no checking your phone, nothing else. Just you and your work for 25 minutes. Once the work period ends you get a five-minute break where you can do anything you would like. Once the break timer ends you go back to another 25 minute work period.
This productivity hack is ideal for those that find themselves feeling drained by the end of a workday. Forcing yourself to really focus on your work for 25 minutes is not a huge ask, especially when you are granted a 5-minute break afterward to relax. Having regular breaks can allow you to avoid feeling fatigued which can hinder your productivity. The combination of short and long breaks gives your mind the breaks it needs to sustain productivity throughout the entire day.
Taking a step back and looking at what you do in a day with a set of fresh eyes is a great way to find ways in which you can improve your workflows. Improving your workflows and increasing efficiency is about finding those mundane repetitive tasks you perform and finding a better and more efficient way to accomplish the same thing.
A great example is setting up a coming home habit. When you come home making an effort to place your car keys in the same place every time can increase your efficiency when leaving the house since you won’t be wasting precious time looking for your keys.
Taking the time that you gain through your productivity efforts to focus on self-care is a great way to further invest in your productivity while also improving your overall wellbeing. For you to work at your absolute best, your health also needs to be at its very best.
Ensuring you are fueling your body with the absolute best nutrition and taking care of your physical health through exercise are great ways to make you feel and perform better. Taking supplements to boost your cellular energy can also improve your productivity by giving your body the nutritional support it needs to sustain a day full of productivity and getting things done.
In summary, improving your productivity is all about being smart with your time and finding ways to improve yourself and your personal workflows. By improving your productivity you can afford yourself more time to do the things you enjoy and spend it with those that you love.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.