Your personal productivity level plays a huge part in just how much time and effort you spend on work, and improving your productivity will help get back more of your personal time, and reduces the amount of stress in your life.
Remember – productivity isn’t about doing MORE, it’s about doing the RIGHT things in an efficient way…
1. First step for productivity: Get out of email
We tend to spend far too much in our inboxes, reacting to things as they come in. I am the most guilty of this out of anyone I know. The solution? Stop spending so much in mail. Check it a couple of times a day, identify and respond to the crucial and time-sensitive messages, and let the rest wait until you have time to address them that doesn’t take you away from your priority tasks. The hardest part of this will be to teach yourself what exactly is crucial and time sensitive, otherwise we treat every request that comes in as a priority. To help, try prioritizing senders or using filters to limit the number of messages that alert you to their presence.
2. Stop surfing
Many of us aren’t really aware of just how much time we lose while on web or social media sites. Pay close attention to your surfing habits to help keep you on what you need. If you are researching or learning, make sure you don’t follow those tempting links to unrelated topics.
3. Set specific daily goals
Each day have a list of very specific goals you want to reach. There will sometimes be things that come up that require you to deviate from your daily plan, so stay flexible in your attitude towards your plan, but having that plan in the first place will help you accomplish more towards each goal. It’s a clearly defined path that you can easily get right back on when those urgent matters DO pull you away.
4. Plan your time
Set aside specific times for specific tasks, such as making phone calls. Send your calls to voicemail the rest of the time. Do the same for your email time.
5. Limit meetings
Meetings will grow to fill the time scheduled. Schedule shorter meetings and stick to the agenda. And make sure EVERY meeting has an agenda. Refuse invites to meetings when people don’t clearly lay out the items that are to be covered, otherwise you will find yourself in hours-long meetings where nothing gets accomplished.
6. Clean up clutter
Save yourself time by having things neat and organized, that way you aren’t spending minutes looking for paper clips, stapler, that report you need to turn in 5 minutes….
7. Use the right equipment, and make sure it works
Faulty keyboards, slow computers or other malfunctioning equipment create a huge drain on your productivity, as well as a ton of stress and frustration. Replace broken or malfunctioning equipment. Use the right software and equipment for the task.
8. Limit work hours and take time off
Limiting your hours at work will BOOST your productivity. Employees who limit the number of hours they work each day, and take regular vacations, are actually more efficient and more effective than their workaholic coworkers. You need that downtime, you can’t be ‘on’ all the time and still be productive. Take those vacations, stay home when your ill, and get out of the office at a reasonable time each day. And make sure your personal time is your personal time. No Blackberry at the dinner table. No laptop on the beach.