Productivity was something that used to be linked to your workplace only. Nowadays productivity is applied in all aspects of life, work-life as well as leisure time. Life hacks, efficiency tips and productivity gurus roam the internet. Productivity celebrity Tim Ferries preaches in the 4 hour work week to delegate all minor tasks to a third party in order to maximize your own productivity. Gary Vee on the other hand encourages you to hustle your way to the riches by working as hard and long as possible to achieve your goals.
Being productive is mostly perceived by people with working harder and more. But this doesn’t have to to be the case in my opinion. I believe being productive means being focused and allocate your resources efficiently. It does not mean to work 7 days a week without any break. Less is often more, here are 6 tips on how to improve your productivity immediately.
1) Focus in the morning
Many people instantly turn to their mobile phone once they wake up. They start checking instant messengers, social media, emails or the news. This is a bad start in the morning because it distracts you and occupies your mind. Your focus should be just with one important task you want to accomplish.
Early mornings offer a unique opportunity for that. Each morning is a fresh start, a clean sheet and you have the chance to fill it with something meaningful. The number of decisions we can make is limited and willpower is weakening the longer a day lasts.
Block you first hour in the morning for your passion project to give it your full undivided attention. Avoid checking your phone during that time, the world will not end in this hour. Best put your phone out of your bedroom, that way your are not tempted to take a quick look.
2) Your workspace should be empty
Your desk is where you work so arrange the setup accordingly. Keep your workspace free of clutter, clean and empty. Put away all gadgets that don’t belong there. You don’t need your ipad on your desk to check the weather (which will lead to a 15 min youtube session).
Eliminate all possible distractions so that when you sit down at your desk your focus is on your work. Turn off notifications and close outlook. Check your email only periodically to avoid constant distraction from your work.
The same goes for your mindset, agree with yourself to do the work necessary when you sit down. You will be amazed how much more work can be done in less time. A clear desk/room offers less chance to procrastinate and helps you be more productive.
3) Working longer doesn’t make it better
When you have a lot on your plate don’t think that working longer hours will solve your problem. Your emailbox at work is always full, yet you still stress on your last day before a vacation because you believe your mailbox should be empty? You work until late to answer a few more emails but end up starting your vacation distracted and exhausted.
If you are working constantly longer hours because you are always under water you should consider working less. Rest more to be sharper and therefore able to make better decisions. It probably won’t lower your workload but it will help you allocate your time more efficiently.
4) Clear goals
Most people react to their environment. «My company keeps saving costs by not replacing colleagues that left which gives me a lot more work». «I would do XYZ if only my clients would not be so demanding». «This year is special because of XYZ, next year will be better». You are just lying to yourself blaming events or people for your misery.
Instead of playing defense you should charge in. A good strategy to avoid being passive is to set clear goals and priorities. Track your goals on a regular basis on a spreadsheet or write them down. Prioritise your goals and change priorities if necessary. Avoid multitasking at all cost. Focus on one task and then move to the next one. You will feel more accomplished that way. When looking at your spreadsheet you will be surprised how much work you did over last months.
5) Own your time
You are responsible for who you are, where you are and what you are currently doing. Yes life can be unfair but blaming the world doesn’t help you. Steven Pressfield writes in the Artist’s journey:
«Everything that has happened to us up to this point is rehearsal for us to act, now, as our true self and to find and speak in our true voice.»
If you are unhappy with your job no one is forcing you to work there, you can quit anytime. If you are unhappy with your relationship just leave. Yes it might be though to do that but this is your life, if you truly want something just get it. Own your time and don’t sit there blaming the universe for all your misery.
6) Set your boundaries
You know the people that constantly complain about how long they sit in the office. Some even brag that they have to go in on weekends. Others come online during their vacation to check if something urgent is coming up. This seems like subtle bragging to highlight your own importance at your job?
When I hear this, and it is always the same kind of people, all I can think of is that they don’t have any boundaries. Ultimately they don’t respect themselves and their time. Don’t become the person who is proudly admitting to work crazy overtime.
Avoid this at all cost and focus on your goals and set boundaries. Make it a game to become more efficient every week so that you can spend less time at the office.
The 6 habits to improve productivity in a nutshell
Productivity doesn’t mean to work more, it means to use the time you invest more efficiently. This should ultimately lead to you working less. After all, you exchange your lifetime for a salary so using this time as best as you can should be your priority. Your time is the most precious resource you own, treat it accordingly. Here is the summary of the 6 tips to improve your productivity immediately:
Start your day without any distractions and focus on a passion project first thing
Lower the chances to procrastinate by keeping your workspace empty
Work less, recharge your batteries to make better decisions
Set goals and track your progress. Change priorities as you see fit.
Own your time, you are where you want to be. If that is not the case change. It is as simple as that.
Respect yourself and protect your own time. Set strict boundaries that help you accomplish that.