Do you find yourself constantly overwhelmed and always running to stay in place? You’re not alone. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of urgent deadlines, multiple projects and conflicting priorities. Here are 8 awesome tips that will boost your productivity and change your life.
1. Don’t let the day run you
My best advice on organization and productivity came from a pro bodybuilder-turned-high-tech executive who gets more done in a day than most folks attempt in weeks.
His coaching is to start the day with a clear idea with what you want to achieve. Rather than tackling everything on your plate, start with no more than 3 tasks to accomplish that day and then focus on getting the toughest one done first.
Having a plan sets the direction and purpose for the day, no matter what curveballs come your way. An additional reward is the sense of accomplishment when you check off list items at the end of the day.
2. Set up for success
I got this gem from outside the business world, from a personal trainer at my local gym, who always reminds her clients that “Abs are built in the kitchen.” In other words, it’s not enough to hit the gym every day, if all you eat is junk food. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with the right foods if you want to see results.
80 percent of life is predictable. Spend some time planning and organizing your daily tasks. Keep your clothes, food, paperwork and supplies organized ahead of time, you can free up bandwidth to tackle the other 20 percent.
3. Manage your energy instead of time
Overwhelming research shows the connection between high productivity and restful sleep and good nutrition. Energy Project founder Tony Schwarz and team found that, instead of increasing those factors, most employees respond to workplace demands by putting in longer hours.
This brutal workplace schedule takes a toll and has a negative impact on our physical, mental and emotional well-being. By eliminating energy-depleting behaviors like poor sleep and poor nutrition, we can increase our energy levels to improve performance and personal well-being.
4. Stay focused
We are assaulted with multiple distractions on an hourly basis — phone calls, social media, emails, meetings, employee issues, salespeople – the list goes on. It’s a wonder we get any work done at all. What if you could get rid of all the distractions and focus on the task at hand? Easier said than done, but the brilliant folks at Funders & Founders have created this great infographic to help you out.
5. Get the right tools
Lately, there has been an explosion of tools to help us get organized, manage our time and make us more productive. Here are our top picks to help you get started.
Kanban Flow offers a clean, simple way to track progress on your to-do list and collaborate with others on your team. It also includes a timer based on the highly effective pomodoro technique, which boosts productivity by scheduling your tasks in timed sprints with regular breaks.
Another productivity tool that my colleagues swear by is Trello. It’s a free visual tool to organize anything — projects, ideas, to-do lists — whatever you like.
If you love to read but don’t have the time, use Pocket to organize your articles and sites for reading later. It also has an extension for Chrome that makes saving on the fly easy.
Many smart people create their own hacks to make life more organized and productive. I am a single working parent so I multi-task like crazy to boost my productivity.
One of my all-time favorites is walking or biking 1:1's with my team. The conversations are so much more productive out in the fresh air and everyone gets some much-needed exercise at the same time. In the past, I used my two-hour commute to finish up conference calls. By the time I got to work, I already had a head-start on my to-dos for the day.
My co-founder and I block a half hour every Friday to get to clean up our inboxes. Our goal is to get to “zero” (unread emails) in the inbox every week. This allows us to start the new week fresh and free of last week’s clutter.
There are great lessons to be learned on the art and science of organizing from the world of culinary experts. Chefs clean as they go to keep their space tidy, which means no clean up later. Sous-chef Greg Barr distills this philosophy as, “Clean cutting board. Clear space to work. Clear mind."
8. Be more efficient with your time.
Tasks and meetings will take up as much time as you let them. Limit the time you spend on each task based on its importance and stick to it. Soon you’ll find yourself wasting less time and getting more done.
We all have the same 24 hours in the day, so use them wisely. Brad Feldman, early stage investor and entrepreneur has great advice on this, “End everything early: I try to end everything when it’s done. I jump right in and finish when we are finished. When you give things 30 minutes, you don’t have time to futz around with intros and catch ups.”
Hope you find these 8 tips helpful in your quest for maximum productivity. What organization and productivity hacks do you use to make your work life more manageable and productive? Share away in the comments.
Mia Dand helps global companies maximize the ROI on their social and digital media investments by advising them on redesign of their internal organization structure, processes and social technologies. Working for Google, HP, Symantec and eBay in the past, Mia is now the CEO of Lighthouse3, a digital and social media consulting agency. Her firm’s focus is on innovative ways that companies can successfully compete by becoming more customer-centric in our increasingly connected world.
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