Improving productivity may seem like a daunting task. Where to start? What to improve? Can I really make a meaningful difference?
It can be made easy if you start with simple routines practised on a daily basis. Once you start winning at productivity at this level you can begin to scale up. Just remember that Rome wasn't built in a day!
Make a plan for the day. This orients yourself to tasks that are important to you, keeps a track of things you may forget about, and ensures you have sufficient time to complete critical activities. Plans are helpful for both individuals and teams.
Practical Tip: Use calendars, journals or daily diaries (see Harada Method) to plan your day.
Living in the connected era of hand-held devices we can often be overwhelmed by information and social contact. Being distracted will kill off your capabilities for greater productivity. Design and calibrate your environment to minimise or eliminate distractions so you are more likely to enter a “flow” state.
Practical Tip: Try out the Pomodoro Technique to create focus time.
3. Eat the Frog
Mark Twain once quipped that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning then nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. As suggested by author Brian Tracy, start the day by working on the task that is bigger, harder, and more important – procrastination will not help you win at productivity.
Practical Tip: Prioritise and estimate the effort of tasks before you start the day.
4. Take Breaks
Humans have a biological and neurological need for rest. This doesn't just mean getting eight hours of sleep every night, but also includes regular rest periods during the day. Giving yourself time to grab a drink of water, a walk in the sun, or chatting with colleagues not only provides for healthy living but recharges our cognitive batteries.
Practical Tip: Use a stop watch, app or computer program to remind you when to take a break.
The greatest productivity gain you'll get is through deliberate daily reflection. Review any deviations from your plan or expectations for the day, how you responded to change, and specific actions for future improvements.
Practical Tip: Review your calendar, journal or daily diary at the end of the day.