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15 Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

Give up on the illusion of perfection

It's common for entrepreneurs to get hung up on attempting to perfect a task.

It's better to complete the task and move it off your plate; if need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

15 Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

15 Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/15-ways-to-increase-productivity-at-work.html

inc.com

15

Key Ideas

Track and limit your time spent

Only around 17 % of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. 

Using the right tool can help by letting you know exactly how much time you spend on daily tasks, including social media, email, word processing, and apps.

Take regular breaks

Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. 

Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.

Set self-imposed deadlines

A manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. 

For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. 

Follow the "two-minute rule"

If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. 

Completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later.

Just say no to meetings

The average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings.

Before booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email, phone, or Web-based meeting.

Hold standing meetings

If you absolutely must have a meeting, there's some evidence that standing meetings (everyone stands) can result in increased group arousal, decreased territoriality, and improved group performance.

Quit multitasking

Psychologists have found attempting to do several tasks at once can result in lost time and productivity. 

Make a habit of committing to a single task before moving on to your next project.

Take advantage of your commute

This goes for any unexpected "bonus" time you may find on your hands.

Instead of Candy-Crushing or Facebooking, use that time to pound out some emails, create your daily to-do list, or do some brainstorming.

Give up on the illusion of perfection

It's common for entrepreneurs to get hung up on attempting to perfect a task.

It's better to complete the task and move it off your plate; if need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later.

Take exercise breaks

Using work time to exercise may actually help improve productivity.

If possible, build in set times during the week for taking a walk or going to the gym.

Be proactive, not reactive

Set aside time for responding to emails, but don't let them determine what your day is going to look like.

Have a plan of attack at the start of each day, and then do your best to stick to it.

Turn off notifications

No one can be expected to resist the allure of an email, voicemail, or text notification. 

During work hours, turn off your notifications, and instead, build in time to check email and messages. 

Work in 90-minute intervals

Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. 

They also found that top-performing subjects tend to work no more than 4.5 hours per day

Look at something nice

Outfitting an office with aesthetically pleasing elements--like plants--can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. 

Jazz up your office space with pictures, candles, flowers, or anything else that puts a smile on your face.

Minimize interruptions

Brief interruptions appear to produce a change in work pattern and a corresponding drop in productivity. 

Minimizing interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects.

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Trim the fat

Multitasking and directing your energy to unimportant tasks and activities will overwhelm and prevent you from being productive.

Focus on your 3 to 5 ...

Measure your results

To assist you with measuring results instead of time, keep done lists to feel more motivated and focused.

Have an attitude adjustment

We are more effective at work when we have a positive attitude. 

good attitude at work will help you set standards for your work and ensure that you're taking responsibility for yourself.

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The time-blocking method

Simply means planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks.

Doing this requires determining in advance what you will accomplish and exactl...

The most important task method (MIT)

Rather than writing out a massive to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then relentlessly focus on those tasks during the day.

Once you determine your 1-3 most important tasks, they are scheduled first in your day. You then make progress on essential items before you get bombarded by distractions. 

The Pomodoro Technique

Is all about working in short, massively productive, intensely focused bursts, and then giving yourself a brief break:

  • Choose a task
  • Set your timer for 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer ends
  • Take a short break (around 5 minutes)
  • Every 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).

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Feeling less productive

Many people feel unable to find time in the day to do their most important work. Re...

Drains and Incompletions
  • Drains are the tasks you have to do (commuting, personal admin, email correspondence, meetings, calls). These tasks drain your time and energy that you want to spend on priority work.
  • Incompletions are the items on your to-do list that you have not yet completed. They are related to work and personal items (responding to a simple email, or it can be a dream you keep putting off).
Identify drains and incompletions

If you are spending your time, energy, and attention on tasks that don't support your overall goal or priorities, it's time to re-evaluate.

  • Set aside 20 minutes on your calendar and minimize distractions.
  • List all of your drains and incompletions. Write every last item you can think of, including the light bulb that needs replacing, and the conversation you need to have with a co-worker.

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Switching between tasks

Most of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools.

In fact, most people average only 3 minutes on any given task before switching to something else (and only 2 minutes on a di...

Task switching and focus

Taking on additional tasks simultaneously can destroy up to 80% of your productive time:

  • Focusing on one task at a time = 100% of your productive time available.
  • Juggling two tasks at a time = 40% of your productive time for each and 20% lost to context switching.
  • Juggling three tasks at a time = 20% of your productive time for each and 40% lost to context switching.
A schedule for sustained attention
It includes:
  • Large chunks of focused “flow” time for more demanding projects.
  • “Themed” days to reduce the need to recalibrate between different tasks.
  • Advanced planning so you can prioritize meaningful work.
  • Realistic time set aside for admin, communication, and meetings.
  • Clear expectations for your teammates so they know when not to interrupt you.

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Make planning a habit
Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting the alarm for you...

Align your to-do list with goals
  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.
Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.

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There is no perfect method for everyone

There is no "one size fits all schedule" for maximum productivity.

Because we all have particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to time management and productivity, what works...

The Time Blocking Method

It involves planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks. 

It’s important to block out both proactive blocks (when you focus on important tasks) and reactive blocks (when you allow time for requests and interruptions).

The Most Important Task Method (MIT)

Instead of writing a big to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then focus on those tasks during the day. 

You don’t do anything else until you’ve completed the three essential tasks.

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Statistics about multi-tasking
  • Trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s the cognitive equivalent of pulling an all-nighter.
  • The average desk job ...
When you single-task...
  • you tend to work on the right things. Effective single-tasking requires planning. Starting your day without a plan is just asking for distraction and inefficiency.
  • you accomplish more in less time with less stress: Intentionally focusing on one task at a time has been proven the most efficient way to move through your to-do list.
4 essential components of effective single-tasking:
  1. Cutting out distractions.
  2. Make a single-tasking plan you’ll actually stick to.
  3. Dealing with unavoidable distractions.
  4. Getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the single-tasking band wagon.

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Brian Tracy

Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life de..."

Brian Tracy
Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Use Technology

Examples of some tools that can help you focus better at work:

  • Blocking apps can remove temptations by blocking distracting sites such as Facebook or Netflix.
  • Organization a...
Keep from external distractions
  • Keep your status Busy or Don’t disturb or Out of Office on office chats.
  • Using earplugs can block out distractions.
  • Convey politely yet firmly your work policies to your colleagues.
  • Allow yourself some chit-chat time so that you don’t miss out on socializing and stick to it religiously.
Structured and Proactive Work Schedule

Factor in these while planning your work day:

  • Your weaknesses - do you procrastinate when there is a tough task at hand?
  • Your limitations - do you have to be home early to take care of your kids?
  • Your strengths - are you more productive when under pressure?
  • Your habits - are you a morning person?

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“Life-Extending” Time

Proactively invest your time in your health by eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and regularly seeing your doctors. 

Make sure you also invest in the other mark...

“Foundation-Building” Time

If you’re spending more time putting out fires than building the right foundations, you’ll never get out ahead of your to-do list.

Spend time building relationships, identifying opportunities, time for prevention and planning.

“Do-Nothing” Time

Investing in do-nothing time will help us slow down and experience a different pace of life, in which time’s value is not measured by its productivity.

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