If you’re reading this blog post, I imagine you’ve already tried quite a few ways to increase your productivity at work.
And, apparently, they haven’t worked.
At least, not the way that you’ve hoped they would.
I’ve read a ton of articles and listened to many tutorials on how to be more productive, all of them saying slightly different things in different enough ways that it’s hard to see how they all fit together.
Because of this, I decided to tie together everything I’ve learned about productivity into five ways to increase your productivity that will be easier to remember than countless blog articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos.
Let’s get to it!
1. Just Do It
You might have noticed this by now, but sometimes when you’ve got tasks ahead of you, the best thing you can do is just start on them. Tell yourself you’re going to work on your project for at least 2 minutes, and as you get to work on it, you’ll find it easier to keep going.
Or, in the immortal words of Shia Lebeouf…
It’s crazy how much easier it is to start when you’re only committing a little bit of time.
Of course, you might have a ton of different projects to work on, but you don’t know where to start. If you don’t know where to start, get started deciding on where to start.
If you have lots of little tasks and one or two bigger ones, just make a plan for how to tackle them and go for it.
Maybe you’ll do the little ones first and the big ones last. Perhaps you’ll get the big ones done first so you have easier stuff to take care of in the end. You might even consider breaking up the big ones and interspersing the little ones throughout all of your project timelines.
You might as well try each method out and see which one fits your particular style best, because not everyone is the same. I have coworkers who have to do whole projects at once, while I can take them a piece at a time. We’re all different, but we all need to get our work done.
So just do it.
The more time you spend deciding how you’ll approach a project, the less time you have to spend actually working on your project.
2. Track Your Time
Time is money, right? You wouldn’t shop all day without knowing where your money was going. If you do, you’ll end up in debt. The same is true of how you managing your time, but instead of going into debt, you end up being late.
So you should know where you’re spending your time.
Try budgeting your time. You can set 25 minutes for a task, focus on it exclusively for those 25 minutes and then move on to another task.
If you don’t have the patience to put in budgeting your own time–or if you just want to know exactly how you’re spending your time–there’s an app for that.
Try out a few techniques, find one that fits your needs and get yourself working with something that fits your style.
3. Don’t Try to be Superman
Don’t be Superman…be Clark Kent.
Clark Kent was always disappearing, but no one ever complained. Why? He was disappearing when the timing was right. If you’re taking breaks at the right time, no one will ever complain.
Superman was always reacting to something terrible happening. Instead of doing that, make sure you’re being proactive. Can you imagine if Superman had found a way to proactively stop evil? It would have made the comics much more boring, but Superman would have had WAY more vacation time.
Now, Superman has super hearing. If you’re working in an office setting, you’ll probably want to find ways to avoid that.
Find whatever ways you can to minimize distractions. This might mean turning off notifications when you need to focus on a task. It might mean putting in headphones and listening to something that can help you concentrate.
It might even mean making a “zen room” like we have here at Disruptive. It’s just a nice quiet room where people can go to work when they need to make sure they’re not being disturbed.
Also, have you seen either Superman or Clark Kent? He definitely worked out, and you should too. There are just too many health benefits to pass that up.
Oh yeah, you should also make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Just thought I’d throw that in here.
The last part of this would be forgetting the need to be perfect. Superman had to be perfect or…you know…the world would end.
Clark Kent, on the other hand, didn’t have to be perfect. He was flawed, but his flawed made him human and lovable.
Same goes for you.
All too often people waste time trying to make everything perfect. The thing is, no matter what you do, there will probably be something off about it that might need help.
I’ve found it’s substantially quicker to crank out whatever project I’m working on and then get a second set of eyes on it than it is to try to do it perfectly on my own. Oh yeah, and my work ends up being higher quality.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to work hard, just that you should work smart. Like Clark Kent would. Have you seen his glasses?
Forgetting about being a superhero all the time will take the pressure off and let you do your work in a way that suits you best. Minus the whole underwear over your pants…unless that’s your thing.
4. Take a Break
Didn’t I just say that in the last section? Yes, I did.
Why haven’t you done it yet?
Take a moment and breathe in.
Now breathe out.
Now breathe in.
And out again.
Repeat this as many times as you need and then continue reading the article.
Life has turned into too much of a rat race. But the rats that never rest lose their minds, and if you really think about it, it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.
I imagine pretty much anyone who would read an article like this will tend towards being the kind of person who doesn’t let themselves take breaks.
You’re probably reading this on your lunch break. Stop it.
Take a break every once in awhile (but don’t get crazy).
5. All You Need is Love
“The more you love what you do, the more productive you will be.” I’m pretty sure Abraham Lincoln said that, but just in case he didn’t I’ll take the credit.
Just think about it.
Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Work will fly right along with your time if you find a way to love it.
No matter what your job is, there’s a way to love it. There is some sort of perspective you can look at your job through that will make it seem more worthwhile to you. The best part about this is, if you can make your job seem more worthwhile to yourself, it will become more worthwhile to you.
On top of this, work will become something you want to do and even look forward to.
If you feel like there’s nothing you can do to enjoy your job more, consider talking with your employer and possibly even looking for a new job. Just make sure that you’re not giving up something you could actually really enjoy just because you don’t start loving it after a month or two of trying.
Maybe even give it three months.
Also, allow yourself time to love yourself. Reward yourself when you accomplish things. Let yourself think you did a good job. Don’t get lost in pride, but don’t let yourself get too harsh on yourself either.
In the words of Justin Beiber, you should go and love yourself. I mean this very differently than he did, but I wanted to quote Justin Beiber and Abraham Lincoln in the same article, so I did. Because I love my job, and I love myself.
The last portion of this is to love those you work with. A HUGE factor that determines how productive you’ll be able to be is how much you like who you work with. This doesn’t mean you need to be chatting with them all the time during work hours, but allow yourself to have fun with them and actually get to know them.
If you love your boss, you’ll want to make sure you hit all of your deadlines. If you love your team, you’ll be sure you never let them down. If you love your clients, you’ll give them better service than they can find anywhere else.
The more love there is in your life, the happier you’ll be, and the more productive you’ll get.
You’ll love it.
If you’re looking to be more productive, you’re already doing a lot of things right. Now get to it.
Just do it.
Know how you’re spending your time, and don’t get hung up on being Superman. Take breaks when you need to. And last but not least, keep on loving.
Find ways to fit each of these into your life and you’ll be accomplishing more in a more meaningful way in no time.
What productivity techniques work best for you? Are there any tools you know of that could make these steps easier? What are your favorite ways to be more productive?
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