3 Ways to increase your productivity
You've probably heard or seen someone say 'work smarter, not harder' before, but have you ever thought about what does it actually mean to work smart? You can't always NOT work hard, as some tasks demand a certain level of increased effort, but you can certainly build habits to maximize your productivity and through that work smarter.
Few habits specifically have substantially improved my productivity over the past years, so I wanted to share them with you.
Habit #1: Timing yourself
It's great to write to-do lists, group related tasks into batches and prioritize them, but it doesn't mean you complete them in time. The chances are that your to-do list ends up building up day after day to a point it becomes unmanageable and results in demotivation.
Timing yourself correctly doesn't happen immediately but it pays back eventually.
When you're starting a task, simply take a note of the time when you started, and record the time when you finish. Once you've repeated the same task several times you'll start to see a pattern for the time it takes.
The more you time yourself and gain awareness into how long particular types of tasks take you, the more time you can identify and re-purpose in your schedule and plan it realistically.
Habit #2: Working backwards
No, I don't mean by facing the wall, I mean starting from the end goal and working backwards to establish the steps to get there.
Write down your main goal, for example, a new product launch. When do you realistically want it to be available to your clients? (if you have been timing yourself, this should be easier to get correctly from the start).
Set up the deadline on your calendar. Then turn your goal into monthly, weekly, and daily action items so that you eventually have a clear idea of what you need to be working on each day to reach your target.
Habit #3: Focusing on one thing at a time
I know I know, it's an obvious one, but what you may not know is that it's actually physically impossible to multitask. It is scientifically proven that our brain instead simply switches attention from task to task extremely quickly and this actually harms our overall productivity. Lesson: don't do it.
To be able to stick to your daily action items and give them your undivided attention, start by cutting off the obvious focus distractions. Switch off all unnecessary notifications, face your phone screen downwards, check your emails only at a dedicated time of the day and go through your action items one at a time starting from the ones that take the least amount of time.
Just remember that things don't always go according to our plans, and that's ok. When those days happen, and they will, just take a deep breath, re-adjust the tasks you need to, and give yourself some credit for all the incredible things you've already achieved!