One of my favourite mottos is, "work smarter, not harder". Having recently hosted the Australian Small Business Twitter Chat (#OzSBChat) on the topic of Productivity, I thought I’d pass on my best productivity tips.
1. Know Thy Enemy
Defining productivity is the first step to understanding it. Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs. In layman's terms – getting more out of what you put in. Productivity is calculated by dividing the average output per period by the total costs incurred, or resources consumed, in that period. It is a critical determinant of cost efficiency.
2. Emails Will Always Derail You
A big time killer is emails. If you can avoid it, don't check them first thing. This is usually the most productive time of your day. Doing emails first thing can also hijack the rest of your day. Have set times to check them. Turn off your pop-ups and notifications. This will save at least 1 minute of productivity per email, as well as being less distracting. Create rules and pre-sort / filter recurring emails. Let your email program do the legwork. Use your inbox as a To Do list – only keep actionable items in there.
3. Use Technology To Your Advantage
Your calendar software (eg. Outlook) is a great tool to help you be more productive. Built-in reminders can be much more reliable than your brain, and stop you from getting distracted trying to remember things. Make sure you use your diary to schedule in time to work, not just distractions (ie. meetings). While you're at it, schedule breaks too. Employ apps to keep you on track too. Hootsuite, Buffer, Evernote and Google Drive are all good, free options to get you started!
4. Exploit Techniques & Methods
Management systems like The Pomodoro Technique and Getting Things Done are a great way to handle your time. Use whatever method is best for you; it may be a combination of your own style. Get your big-ticket and/or least favourite items out of the way first thing in the morning. And try to eliminate multi-tasking – it doesn't work! If you have tasks that take longer to complete than your time is worth, outsource them. This will save you loads of time.
Bonus Tip - The 4 Ds: Do It Now | Dump It | Delegate It | Defer It (ie. schedule it)
5. Beware Of External Influences
Mess creates stress, so keep your workspace tidy! Keep distracting noise to a minimum too if possible. Create a fresh, spacious & relaxed working environment. Colour, for example, can have a big impact on the work you do. Outside of work, try setting yourself a routine. If you need more hours in the day, get up earlier. Remember to eat well, exercise and relax!
If you still feel that there aren’t enough hours in your day, find out how to successfully get more here.