4 Ways To Be More Productive

By Alyssa Gregory
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alarmclockGetting things done quickly and efficiently is a big part of staying fresh and energetic with your work. Increased productivity can help you avoid burnout, get rid of stress, take on more work and make more money. Assuming that you have directed and measurable goals that you want to achieve by being more productive (as opposed to just adding more to your to-do list in the hopes of finding a better way to work), accomplishing more quality tasks and your most important priorities every day can help to develop an ongoing sense of fulfillment and achievement.

Here are some very simple, yet highly effective ways to make small changes that can increase your productivity in big ways.

1. Get Up Earlier

You obviously need enough sleep in order to perform at your best, but one option for dealing with time constraints and extensive task lists is to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. This is especially effective if you can capitalize on quiet early morning work time by having a plan laid out the day before for what you want to accomplish the next morning.

If you’re not a morning person, try scheduling a time later in the evening after your typical work hours and after a break when you can create a focused slot of time to finish a manageable amount of work.

2. Remove Distractions

As difficult as it may be, try removing some of the daily distractions that interrupt your work – e-mail, phone calls, pets, IM, browsing online, TV, social media sites, and RSS feeds. If you are used to working through interruptions, you may be surprised by how much you can get accomplished, even in a short period of dedicated work time.

If you are working from home with young children in tow, consider setting up some regular childcare, even for a few hours a week.

Do you find that you are pulled off task because you are thinking about other things you need to do during the day? Try writing things down as soon as you think of them and then putting it aside until you have the time to focus on it. This will ensure it doesn’t get forgotten and prevent the stop-and-go in your work flow.

3. Get Mobile

Flexibility is another way you can increase your productivity. You can benefit from reduced work time by having a laptop and BlackBerry or other devices that let you work on the go. This also enables you to work from places other than your home, which can be an effective way to jumpstart your productivity.

4. Get Rid of Busyness

Take an honest look at your task list. How much of it is really important? Sort your to-do’s by the highest priority so you know the most important things you need to do each day. If you find that there are a few tasks that keep getting put off week after week, they may be good candidates for outsourcing, or maybe you can get rid of them altogether.

One way to see how much of your time is spent on your priorities is by tracking all of your time, for billable and non-billable work. After a few weeks, you’ll get a good idea of where your time is going and can make adjustments as necessary.

How productive are you? What can you do to get more done?

Image credit: zbyszek80

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  • Interestingly, I’ve been reading on a number of blogs that suggest separating work and your personal life so that the hours you do actually work are more productive. Things like smart phones that allow you to work on the go never give your mind a break and time to refresh itself. I feel that basically you’re saying to be more productive we should just work more, but perhaps I’m emphaising your first and third point too much.

    Also, I interestingly just read a blog post about how sleeping in might be better for you: http://zenhabits.net/2009/04/how-to-become-a-late-riser/

    I guess it matters if you’d rather be more “productive” or more sane. :-)

  • planewalker

    I agree with charmedlover. Separating the two is key (at least for me). When I leave work, that’s that, I get away from it completely and don’t think about it again till I get into the office the next day. I feel I am very productive when I am at work for that reason specifically.

    That is harder for some people than others though – whether they can’t stop thinking about work, or work simply requires them to stay connected when away. For me, when I leave the office, everything stays there.

  • I apply the 48/12 rule. Work with no distractions for 48 minutes then take a break for 12 minutes. I’m amazed by how much work can be done in 48 minutes of focused work. I feel very productive just by doing that three times. Thank you for this article.

  • Like many in the modern day, I spend a lot of time concerned about my productivity. These are all great tips, especially the busyness one. That is where I was out of control. So I created these daily task cards to keep me on track. I made them free for everyone to use as a way to give back.

    As long as I complete one of my main priority tasks from this card everyday I feel successful. Plus that helps me sleep better at night too!