5) Use Technology as a Tool
There are numerous online and offline tools to increase your productivity, so don’t be afraid to use them.
“Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”
Among the most popular are Buffer, which allows you to schedule your social media postings as far in advance as you have them ready to go rather than post them throughout the day, every day.
Asana is a great tool for managing projects and sharing tasks to keep yourself and your team organized and on track. Their tagline is that they are a “smarter inbox” because you can customize your settings to only receive the team or project updates you need rather than being overwhelmed with non-stop, unwanted messages. All the tasks that you need to do are listed by order of due date in your own personal Asana inbox.
Pocket allows you to save important or interesting web pages to read later. You might come across a great article but not have the time to read it, and then wind up forgetting about it later on. With this tool, you can save posts, videos and anything else, and then access them from all your devices, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer.
6) Multitasking Is a Myth
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
Despite what everybody says, multitasking is just a myth. In fact, multitasking can reduce your productivity by as much as 40%.
When you multitask, you accomplish all tasks less effectively rather than a few of them efficiently. As opposed to saving time, attempting to do more than one task at the same time takes longer and you’re more prone to making errors. Multitasking is only possible when one of the tasks is automatic, such as walking and talking at the same time.
When you are video-conferencing on Skype, how many times have you peeked at other websites only to realize that you stopped following what the other person was saying? Multitasking goes beyond the workplace, too—we scroll through Facebook while walking down the street, write or read e-mails during a meeting, or even text while driving. These days you’re considered a productivity hero if you do five things at once and lazy if you do only one thing at a time.
“Do three things well, not ten things badly.”
7) Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular methods of increasing productivity. This time management method was developed by Francesco Cirillo and though it has nothing to do with tomatoes, it did get its name from his tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
The Pomodoro Technique is based on the principle of doing a certain task for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 minutes. Although taking regular breaks every half hour (or even every hour) may seem counterintuitive, the paradox is that stopping to rest your brain helps you focus on the work even better when you resume. Taking regular, short breaks revitalizes your motivation and over time this method can improve your concentration.
8) Block Out Distractions
If you’re lacking the willpower to be self-accountable, there are numerous services that can help. For example, Focus is a useful tool that temporarily blocks distracting websites like Facebook or Twitter so that you can focus on important tasks.
As their website says, this tool is akin to closing the door and putting on headphones. Computers are no longer just for work—we use them to check in with friends on social media, to entertain ourselves on YouTube with funny cat compilations, or to play endless games of Solitaire.
“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?”
Once you set it up, it will block anything from Twitter to e-mail for however long you decide and give you a motivational quote, too. So far it’s only available for Mac.
9) Listen to Music
You can implement the Pomodoro Technique in another way by creating a 25-minute playlist with lyric-free songs and then don’t stop working until playlist is over. Experts claim that listening to the right music while working can increase your productivity. Here are some good choices from Hiveage’s How Music in the Office Affects Your Productivity:
- Familiar Music – It’s best to choose songs that you are familiar with because the mind tends to listen more intently to songs that are new to you.
- Music in the Major Key – Background music that is in the major key results in better productivity.
- Classical Music – Classical music, especially Baroque, is ideal for music in the office.
- Ambient Electronica Music – This style of music is also an excellent option as it tends to be repetitive, rhythmic, and unaccompanied by lyrics.
Try out Focus@Will, a web app that allows you to set time limits and choose music to play while you work, has a unique collection of instrumental music that you won’t find anywhere else.
10) Wake Up Earlier
As time management expert Laura Vanderkam says in her book What Successful People Do before Breakfast: successful people wake up early to kickstart a productive day. If you love your snooze button, you may disagree with this, but she says that morning time is the key to taking control of the rest of the day.
“He that rises late must trot all day”
Vanderkam says that by getting up early, you can actually accomplish those tasks or projects that are much harder to take care of in the afternoon. If you don’t feel like waking up so early, the author advises starting with small steps such as getting up just 15 minutes earlier each day.
So there you have it—ten ways to not only be more productive in your day, but to feel more relaxed and focused and, therefore, happy. And as the research shows, happy people tend to be 12 percent more productive and companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20 percent.