Productivity is one of those things everyone wants to master but no one seems to know how to do properly. If you want to improve your productivity, you can start by taking a few small steps to manage your time and stay focused. Here are a few ways you can improve your productivity and get more done, no matter how busy you might be.
You would think that trying to do ten things at once might actually make you more productive. After all, working on more than one thing at one time should help you get things done faster, shouldn’t it? Actually, multitasking doesn’t work well at all. It actually makes you less productive, because in doing multiple things at once you are trying to force your brain to focus intently on more than one thing at a time – something it cannot do.
If you want to improve your productivity, you need to practice what some experts are calling single-tasking. Unlike the concept of multitasking, single tasking involves choosing just one activity and working on that one activity either until you take a break or it is finished. This helps you keep your focus and eventually allows you to get more done, even if it does not seem like it in the short term.
Take a short break every hour
It is a big mistake to think that you will be more productive if you try and work straight through your day without any breaks. Trying to force your brain to focus on a task for too long can really hurt your productivity as you lose focus in the middle of working, often without realizing it. This wastes time and decreases work quality, neither of which you can afford whether you work for yourself or for a company. Do your organization a favor and take a break as often as you can – probably more often than you think you need to.
Taking a break every hour helps you reset your focus and gives you brain a little bit of time to rest and recharge for a few moments before moving on to the next task. A great way to implement this method is to work for about 50 to 55 minutes on one task without stopping, take a five to ten minute break and work for 50 or 55 more minutes. This may seem like a lot of breaks, but even if it only extends your work day by a half hour or so, you will still end up accomplishing more than you would if you tried to take only a few breaks throughout an eight hour shift.
Start tracking your time
If you are not already keeping track of how much time you are dedicating to specific tasks, you should be – especially if you are hoping to learn how you can alter your schedule in order to be more productive. Time management, or lack thereof, is a common factor in measuring how productive you are – or how productive you could be, if you were actually using your time wisely.
Invest in a time tracking app for your phone and your computer that can help you figure out what you are spending the most of your valuable time on. You will likely find out that you are spending far too much time on tasks that are killing your productivity, such as checking Facebook or watching videos online. You can also then figure out how to make better use of your time, so that you can be more productive whether you have a few extra minutes or two hours to get things done.
Get things you’re dreading done first
Every once in awhile, a task makes its way onto your to-do list that you just do not want to do. It could be calling someone who is unpleasant to speak with, leading a team meeting or doing something boring you know is going to take forever. You might think it’s a good idea to put the dreaded task off until the very end of the day, but you would be wrong. You might not end up getting to it, making your productivity plummet.
Is there a task on your to-do list that you are absolutely dreading? Make sure that is the task that you get done first thing when you get to work. You will find that once you start that task, it never ends up being quite as awful as you expected it to be. Also, if you do it first thing, it won’t hang over your head for the rest of the day. Once you get it done, you will feel more accomplished, since you really did not want to do it, but did it anyway. This leads to more motivation to get even more tasks done, making you more productive than you imagined you could be.
Keep your task list short
Many people think that the longer their to do list is, the more they will be able to accomplish. There is a psychological component to how good it feels to keep crossing things off of a list. However, when it comes to productivity, how much you are getting done is not necessarily as important as what you are getting done. Accomplishing a lot of little things may make it seem as though you are getting more done, but that is actually a false perception.
You are much better off creating a to do list that has fewer tasks on it, such as five or ten instead of an entire page full of things to do. Check out more tips for how to create a better to do list. Having a smaller list featuring a few big tasks and a few smaller ones will not only ensure you will accomplish more, but it will also make you feel less overwhelmed and make you much more likely to get things done.
Productivity is easier than you think. Focus, use your time wisely and don’t try to fit too many tasks into just one day. Take a deep breath. You can do this.