Regardless of what you do in your line of work, you’re probably just like everyone else in that you try to be productive. Now the general idea of productivity suggests that to get the most out of your day, you must do as much as possible in as little time as you can. I don’t know about you but from the countless articles I’ve read about reaching optimal productivity, I’ve gathered a couple of key ideas: set goals and write lists. Then you start checking items off the list and voila- productivity achieves goals.
Unfortunately there’s more to it than that. For starters, the main definition of productivity could use alteration. It isn’t so much about getting everything done now, but rather about making choices about what you do altogether.
Here are ten of the most effective ways to work smarter rather than harder and increase your productivity.
Know the Body’s Timetable
Your body natural rhythms and behavioural patterns should be recognisable to you. Chances are, you know how you work at your best and when you're more likely to hit a brick wall. If you take on challenging activities when you exhibit the highest amounts of energy (for example, in the morning, after you have breakfast), you will do a better job than if you were to leave it until you're feeling weak (during an afternoon slump). When your energy dips, take on some of the routine tasks that don't require too much effort.
Ironically, the act of ranking the tasks you must get around to can often take more time and energy than the tasks themselves! But it is worth being organised in this respect as it can cut out a lot of unnecessary work and brainpower (ie. thinking about what you should do next, worrying about when you'll get around to another task, etc).
Our brains are all but made for executing patterns. Establishing routines around the way you carry out your everyday tasks makes you more productive and efficient. For example, set email rules to preset email checking, routine request responses and email archiving. For physical documents, you can create a similar routine including opening, reading and storing or filing. Likewise, stick to preset procedures for beginning and completing any new projects or delegating tasks when necessary.
Our brains also have a tendency to lump together similar items to learns and perform difficult tasks. To make the most of this, try to schedule similar tasks back-to-back, like taking care of all the emails you need to deal with at once or making all the phone calls you know you need to make around the same time
Strategising, writing and other similarly demanding tasks require a lot of mental energy and it’s hard to force your brain to focus on these for extended periods of time. So it’s imperative to know when you’ve reached the point where you need to have a break. Better still, set yourself a reminder for break time and stick to it as best you can.