Learn to be more productive, work smarter in your daily flow
No one will argue how particularly important it is to stay on task in order to get projects completed. However, growing a small business or working for yourself as an entrepreneur has its challenges when it comes to productivity. Below are 10 simple tips outlined by Forbes to help you work smarter, not harder.
- Take Breaks Regularly
‘Just push through and finish the project’ echoes in our minds, but it is not a productive way to stay on task. Short breaks between work increases concentration, creativity and memory. Working long hours without it leads to stress, exhaustion and decision fatigue. Avoid burning yourself out and boost efficiency with frequent breaks. Stay hydrated, meditate, stretch, go for a walk, grab a snack, and get back to it!
- Eat the Frog
“Mark Twain once said, ‘eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.’” The ‘eat the frog’ technique by Brian Tracy is based on this quote. The ‘frog’ is the one crucial task you procrastinate doing and it sets you back. Tracy emphasizes that obtaining high levels of performance and productivity comes from starting with the most challenging tasks first. Make a habit out of tackling major tasks first and be persistent until it is completed. Everything else will feel easier after you “eat the ugliest frog first,” says the motivational speaker.
- Learn to Single-Task
You may believe you excel at multitask, but in all reality, research suggests that “multitasking reduces productivity by as much as 40%.” Switching between multiple tasks disrupts focus, decreases working memory and heightens stress and fatigue. Assess your priorities and stick to only one task at a time. If you have many tasks, consider setting a timer to avoid over-committing yourself.
- Follow the ‘Two-Minute Rule’
David Allen, productivity consultant and author of Getting Things Done, emphasizes the values of his ‘two-minute rule.’ Basically, if you have a pending task that can be completed in two minutes or less, do it right away. For example, the ‘low hanging fruit’ – daily tasks like answering emails or paying a bill – can be completed quickly and it improves productivity by limiting procrastination.
- Preplan Your Day the Evening Before
One of the greatest productivity tools to keep you organized and focused are to-do, or task, lists. Before going to bed, write down two or three realistic tasks you want to accomplish the next day. Set yourself up for success with a head start to your day. Avoid making your list too long – too many tasks can feel overwhelming. Take advantage of technology by jotting down those tasks in your email calendars, smart phone notes, or reminders. If you’re feeling bold, download a free task manager application and make it your best friend.
- Be Productive on Your Commute
Whether you are walking, biking, driving or using public transportation, take advantage of that time. Expand your mind and listen to a thought provoking podcast or get inspired by watching a motivational speaker. Or, plan out more tasks and reply to emails. Time is precious, use it wisely.
- Get & Stay Organized
Studies suggests that your brain’s ability to process information and focus are limited in a cluttered or messy workspace. It leads to frustration, stress, and fatigue, which results into working less efficiently. Clean-up after yourself daily. Declutter your space by eliminating unnecessary items and assign designated places for everything. Working in a coworking or shared space can help keep your space organized because you will feel less inclined to use the desk as a junk table.
- Eliminate Digital Distractions
“The average American spends nearly one-quarter of their workday browsing social media for non-work-related activities.” Watching the occasional cat fail videos or browsing through Instagram can count as taking a break, but productivity takes its toll when you stay constantly connected. Unless your job is to monitor these things, limit your internet usage. If it’s still too tempting, disable app notifications or silent your phone to avoid distractions.
- Make a Not-To-Do List
What tasks do not contribute to your professional and personal goals? Write them down. A not-to-do list is just as useful as a to-do list. It serves as a reminder of unproductive habits and in turn you are more cognizant of implementing those changes into your life.
- Get Enough Rest
“According to a 2007 Harvard report, sleep deprivation reduces efficiency and makes you more prone to making errors.” Your physical and mental well-being thrive best on seven to nine hours of sleep each night. It makes a difference in mood, creativity, memory, focus and impacts your ability to make quick decisions. Caffeine and energy drinks will never substitute a good old fashion night’s rest.
Learning a new skill takes time and practice – becoming more productive is no different. Start by using the simple strategies listed to work smarter, not harder and illuminate your life with success.