Most of us yearn to be productive and efficient, but how many days a week can we truly say "I made excellent use of my time today?" If you're anything like me, not as many as we'd like.
Being productive, feeling the satisfaction of having done great work at the end of the day, is one of the best feelings someone can get. However, for many of us, being productive can be quite hard.
So, what do we do then? How do we boost our productivity and go to bed with the satisfaction of knowing we've made the best, most efficient use of our time?
Here's five tips that have worked for me; tips that have helped boost my daily productivity by miles and that I'm sure are going to do wonders for you too.
Tip #1 - Planning and Organising
Planning is the foundation of every productive day. Productivity is all about managing our time more efficiently, and having the discipline to follow through, which means that drafting out our actions, goals and responsibilities in advance should take centre stage. If you want to give yourself that first boost in productivity, make it a daily habit to plan out your tasks. Having everything down in a neat list will not only take a good deal of stress off your shoulders, but also gives you a clear, tangible outline of the things you have to accomplish during the day.
Organisation is key!
Once you have your list ready, you can then sort out your tasks and prioritise; decide which tasks are more important. Which are time sensitive or have a tighter deadline? Once you've listed your tasks and organised them based on their level of importance and/or urgency, you've pretty much laid out a solid foundation for a very productive day. However, it's not over yet!
Tip #2 - Motivation
In order to achieve maximum productivity during a day, it is of the utmost importance to maintain your motivation. Tip #1 was a first step towards reaching that, as having a tangible copy of your tasks makes it several times easier, and much more manageable, to get in the right frame of mind to do them! Motivation is the fuel that drives you throughout the day - there is very little we can do without it, and when we do manage to push ourselves through by sheer willpower, the results are never as good. A motivated attitude is a game changer. Now, how can we attain it?
Here's a great tip I learned a long time ago. Before you set out to do your tasks, envision the results you want to obtain. Don't focus on the fact that you need to study... focus on the fact that you want to have good grades. Don't think about that nasty job search... focus on all the things you'll be able to buy and pay for once you get the job, think about the satisfaction it will bring. What I'm trying to get at is to focus on the results you are going to get from your tasks, rather than the tasks themselves. Your motivation will sky-rocket. Our goals, our daily objectives are only a means to an end, like satisfaction, comfort, progress or success. Think about the end result, the end goal and that will definitely give you a boost of newly found strength to face your tasks.
Another great way to motivate yourself, and one that's almost fail-proof, is to reward yourself after you've completed a large task, or a number of smaller ones. For example; you reached your goal of writing that blog you had been postponing. Great! Now reward yourself by doing something you like, go out for lunch with a friend.
Our minds work in very interesting ways and when we accustom them to the scheme of work = reward, we will progressively start to find it easier to do the things that we need to do on a daily basis (including those tasks that we avoid until the last minute).
Tip #3 - Sleep Well
Nothing, and I mean nothing, can impact your daily productivity like a lack of good sleep. And I say that from (rather constant) experience. There are so many distractions nowadays that we might go to bed 3 hours later than we should've done so this particular tip might be one of the hardest to implement. It might also be one of the most important! Sleep is essential for the mind to refresh itself. When we don't give it the chance to fully recover, our mind's capacity for productivity - for attention, retention, critical thinking etc takes a huge hit. Coffee helps, of course, and so does taking a few power naps here and there but their mind-sharpening effects pale in comparison to that of a good night's sleep.
Discipline and being conscious of all the benefits we gain from going to bed early are very necessary here. There is nothing like waking up feeling completely rested and refreshed - it boosts your attention, your motivation towards the day and it keeps you sharper to make better decisions, as well as enabling you to be your best productive self. The benefits don't stop there - I could go on explaining the perks a good night's sleep has on your body's systems, on your metabolism (ie burning fat throughout the day), your eyes, your skin and much more, but that's for another, health based article another day.
If you want to boost your daily productivity by 3 x more, make it a habit to get a full night of undisturbed sleep.
Tip #4 - Remember To Take A Break!
Working is great. As human beings we are made to work, to be useful, to produce and to excel. However, we all have our limits. Our bodies and our minds have their limits and going beyond them will not only impact our level of productivity but could also be harmful to our body. While working is all good and dandy we also have to be responsible about our times of rest. We need to be conscious of our limitations and responsibly pace our efforts throughout the day, be them at the office or at home to allow for periods of rest and recovery.
Don't overwork yourself!
Whenever you start to feel like your performance is dwindling, give yourself a break. Take 15 or 30 minutes to do something else, give your mind a chance to rest. When you come back to work, I promise, you will feel a lot better - your mind will be clearer, your work will come easier and your body will thank you for it.
Tip #5 - Disconnect!
For my final tip, we'll talk about that one time sink that none of us like to acknowledge...
It connects us, it informs us, it entertains us and it's here to stay! However, no one taught us how to make a responsible use of it and the last time I checked, they don't give you a tutorial on how to efficiently use each social media service when you sign up. Of course they don't. It's our responsibility to use these services responsibly. But what does that mean?
Here's the scoop:
Social media, like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is designed to be addictive. It's made to cater to our innermost needs like recognition, belonging, affection and appreciation... just to name a few. We get addicted to the attention we receive on it, we get addicted to stalking other people on it, we get addicted to the different ways we can showcase our lives on it. Before we know it, we end up spending anywhere from one to three hours daily on our favourite social media site (or among our collection of them). Now, don't get me wrong - social media isn't "the enemy". It's not a subliminal weapon unleashed on the world to eradicate all productivity and sink the economy. It's just a tool like any other - albeit a potential time threatening tool. Good news is - we decide how to use it.
We need to be conscious of our time, and how we use it if we want to increase our productivity. Spending 2 hours on social media per day is not going to help us be more productive. Now, what can we do to remedy that? We don't have to resign social media altogether of course, nothing as radical as that. Social media has its place and some very beneficial uses. Maybe, we can perhaps delegate just 20 minutes a day, preferably at night, to administer our social presence instead of 2 hours. We could delegate managing our social media to someone else, like a virtual assistant or we could limit our social media usage to three times a week, instead of using it every day. Sounds feasible enough, right?
Although these are but a few of the many ways we have at our every-day disposal to increase our daily productivity, they are the ones that have helped me the most in the past. I believe that, if employed with discipline and tenacity, they will help you as well.
Remember that PA Excellence can help you manage your social media or other business administration tasks to give you back time and help you be more productive. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.