Being more productive – an elusive unicorn or real possibility?

February 9, 2016

Ever have that nagging feeling that you should be doing more with your time and achieving more? Feel that you never quite squeeze enough out of the day? I must admit, I have had that feeling before and last year, after having read yet another LinkedIn update on “Amazingly simple things Ridiculously Productive People do” (or words to that effect) I decided to try something new.

Time management on black blackboard with businessman

OK, so I haven’t turned into Super Woman overnight or reached a point where I can be in 2 places at once without the need for Hermione’s Time Turner from Harry Potter, but I have adopted some techniques that have helped. Forbes recently published an article on the top 15 things productive people do and I had a “Hurrah!” moment when I realised some of the things I’ve adopted were on the list!

I always take these lists with a little pinch of salt, as it really is a case of what works best for you; however there are some things that don’t change and for me, they are:

Have a routine
Having a routine for the start of the day, the mid-day slump and the close of play is crucial as it provides structure. Use that time to set yourself up for the day or the next and to focus yourself. However you chose to work your to do list, this is great time to use to plan and set your agenda for the day. So, for example, I like to use the first 10 minutes of the day to recheck my to do list, which I wrote in the final 30 minutes of the day before, quickly scan emails for anything urgent and review the task I’d prioritised as my most important the night before.

Focus on one thing
Productive people know their most important task for the day and work on that for one to two hours in the morning (or their most productive time of the day) without interruptions. Having set my most important task for the day the night before, I can crack on with it first thing. That way I feel like I’ve achieved something before I’m blinded by emails!

Block out your Time
This one can take a little getting used to when, due to the nature of your role you may be at the whim of others. Theming days so you are dealing with groups of things on certain days, blocking out times for specific tasks and projects and protecting that time can help. I use this technique for email too as it can be so easy to be ruled by it; schedule email time whether it’s twice or three times a day.

Touch things only once
It might sound obvious, but it really does work! Once you’ve put the item in your planner/ to do list, if you’re focusing on one thing at once, in theory you can then deal with it there and then (hopefully) avoiding procrastination.

The good ole’ 80/20 rule
This can be tough, but the idea is if you focus on the 20% of activities that generate 80% of outcomes, you are onto a winner. To really work, this needs clear priorities, objectives, the ability to delegate and…the ability to say no to things that don’t add anything. Focusing on the activities that drive the greatest results is a discipline and takes work. Other people’s objectives and goals can take I find that when I’m keeping tips 1 – 4 in mind, this tip is much easier to achieve!

If your team is struggling with time management HR180 can assist with coaching and training. Give us a call today!

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