How to Be More Productive This Year
By Mike Raia Posted January 29, 2018
Staying on top of your calendar and to-do list can seem like an impossible goal sometimes. These strategies may help you make the best use of your time, lower stress and make you more productive.
Between personal obligations and professional responsibilities, it can seem as if there are never enough hours in the day. We can accumulate wealth and things, but try as we might, we’ll never have more than the same 24 hours each day that everyone else has. The trick is to find ways to use time more efficiently.
Improving your personal productivity goes hand-in-hand with professional productivity, so when you implement strategies designed to boost one area of your life, odds are good you’ll see gains in others too.
Plan for the Coming Day
You probably already know the importance of planning your day to maximize productivity and efficiency. However, planning your day – before you go to bed the night before – can help give you the structure and momentum you need to hit the ground running.
Writing a to-do list, prioritizing tasks and planning time on your calendar can keep you from being reactive the next day. What’s more, it can help you get a better night’s sleep because you won’t be worrying about what you need to get done the next day.
Use Time Blocking Strategies
Organizing your day into blocks of time, and planning to accomplish a certain task (or multiple tasks) in a given block of time may help you be more productive too, by helping keep you focused on the task at hand.
When all of your must-complete tasks are on a list rather than blocked off on your calendar, they can weigh on you, increasing your stress levels. By allotting a certain amount of time to each item and scheduling them, you’ll likely find you are more disciplined and making better use of every minute. Remember to be realistic and give yourself some flexibility.
Get Enough Sleep
When you have a to-do list that seems never-ending, the idea of spending more of your time sleeping can seem counterintuitive. However, getting more sleep doesn’t mean you’re wasting time. It can make you more productive by helping you make fewer mistakes, recover faster from distractions, reduce the risk of burnout and actually improve your memory.
According to the CDC, adults should be getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you’re not getting enough rest, try to limit screen time before bed and consider using a fitness tracker or other sleep-tracking device to watch your sleep habits and patterns over time.
Create and Follow a Morning Routine
Everyone has occasional mornings when nothing seems to go right and getting out of the door on time seems like an impossible goal. However, if that’s the norm rather than the exception, you could probably benefit from creating and sticking to a morning workflow.
Waking up early (without hitting the snooze button) can give you much-needed time for yourself before the demands of the day begin. Other morning habits of successful entrepreneurs include avoiding sugar at the start of the day, drinking plenty of water, exercising to wake up your muscles and get your blood flowing, planning time for a healthy breakfast, and meditating or practicing mindfulness and gratitude.
Learn How to Say “No”
Saying “no” can be incredibly difficult for many people, however, productive people know their limits and have learned how to turn down things that aren’t aligned with their personal or professional priorities.
When evaluating demands on your time, consider what the full-time commitment would be, whether you’d be giving up other opportunities by saying “yes” (opportunity cost) and what the emotional and physical costs would mean for your wellbeing.
Work Where You Can be Most Productive
Spending 40-50 hours at your desk in the office may be the traditional way of working, but that doesn’t mean it’s the way you are most productive. Embracing workplace flexibility arrangements can make you happier, reduce stress and make you more productive because you have more control over how and when your work gets done.
Of course, your company needs to recognize the value of remote or flexible work arrangements. If you don’t have the opportunity to work from outside the office yet, you can still improve workplace productivity by decluttering your workspace. Resist the urge to make (or add to) piles on your desk or floor of your office. Similarly, take control of digital clutter by organizing your email inbox and electronic files in a way that will help keep you focused while still giving you ready access to information when you need it.
Don’t Schedule Meetings Just to Have Meetings
At some point, most working professionals have had to sit through meetings where very little was actually accomplished. Meeting for the sake of having a meeting is not only a drain on productivity; it can also take a toll on morale and culture for the company.
When you need to call a meeting, start and end it on time. It’s also important to take a good look at the invitee list. Meetings with fewer participants tend to be more productive than those with large numbers in attendance. Finally, have an agenda, state the desired outcomes at the beginning of the meeting, and let participants know you expect them to be prepared. By focusing on intentionally making the most of meetings, you can improve efficiency and productivity for everyone involved.
Working nonstop won’t help your productivity; it will hinder it. Taking breaks throughout your workday can make you more focused and resilient, but only if you actually use the time away from your desk to relax and leave your work at work.
Whether you take time to read, exercise, do yoga or start a new hobby, find ways to energize and fight stress during your workday. Using PTO or vacation days to take time away from the office – and not checking in every day while you’re gone – is also an important key to improving your attitude, renewing your energy levels, refreshing your brain and increasing productivity when you return to work.
Automate Departmental Processes
Last but not least, centralizing tasks and leveraging technology to automate processes can provide significant gains in workplace productivity. In a recent study, think tank McKinsey Global Institute estimated that automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4 percent annually.
Using automated workflows can help keep you – and others in your department – accountable by assigning tasks and concrete deadlines for those tasks. Relying on technology rather than on peoples’ individual calendars or memories can also help ensure those deadlines are met by allowing you to set automated reminders when a task’s due date is approaching (or to schedule progress check-ins periodically for larger projects.)
Automation can also assure next-level reviewers or those with subsequent tasks and responsibilities are notified right away when it’s their turn to act, helping avoid bottlenecks and keeping the task or project moving.
Finally, centralizing and automating processes can also help project- and team leaders, allowing them to customize and schedule delivery of automated reports. Department managers using automated workflows can see the project and task status using a system dashboard, rather than having to chase down employees for reports and updates.
Leverage These Tips to Improve Your Personal and Professional Productivity
If you struggle with time management, you are not alone. Implementing these suggestions should help reduce your stress and give you more control over your schedule over time. Of course, none of these tips will actually give you more time than anyone else has, but they can help you make the most out of every day.
To learn more about improving productivity through workplace automation solutions, contact Integrify today at (888) 536-9629.