It's easy to get distracted from work, so we set to out to find the best productivity tips. Here's what we found, thirteen tips for increased productivity.
Side note worth mentioning: while researching this post we found that one of the most important factors for productivity was organization. Research shows that productive people are also highly organized people. So, straighten up your desk after you’re finished reading.
Tip 1. Become a Hermit.
No, not literally...
This is all about minimizing distractions. Don't be easy to contact. In other words—get lost.
Cam Howey, in his summary of Edwin C. Bliss's book Getting Things Done: The ABCs of Time Management, says this about work disturbances: "You can't eliminate interruptions, but you must work to minimize the number if you are going to work effectively."
A few tips on achieving that highly-sought after hermit status, are:
• Lock your door. Office, bathroom, bedroom, wherever you’re working to make it harder for distractions—in the form of people or pets—to get in. If your boss knocks, tell him you’re trying to be more productive.
• Turn off communication; silence the phone, don’t check your email unless you have to, then if you do, have hyper-focus, and only concentrate on completing that task you accessed the device to do.
Tip 2. Have a One-track Mind.
This ties back to getting rid of distractions. Avoiding that thing called ‘multitasking’ will make you more productive.
Check out what this article associated with Pearson Learning has to say about it: “In a recent study by Stanford psychology professor Clifford I. Nass, it was found that multitaskers performed drastically worse on cognitive and memory tasks than people who normally focus on one task at a time.”
Still not convinced? Here's another exercise a psychology professor at the University of Michigan designed for his students to show how ineffective multitasking is.
Tip 3. Work with an A-Team.
Anyone who has ever come up against those people—the ones who seem to suck the very life out of everything they come in contact with—know the powerful effect those around you have.
Especially if you’re competitive, surrounding yourself with go-getters and people with a strong work ethic goes a long way to making you more productive.
In the book The Hidden Power of Social Networks, authors Rob Cross and Andrew Parker examined over 60 informal networks, coming to the conclusion that
“An organization‘s social networks are where real work gets done. Energy is a key factor in determining who is effective and why.”
In studying the different personalities in networks, Cross and Parker came up with the all-star personality as far as productivity is concerned. They call these people ‘energizers.’ And here's what they have to say about them:
“Energizers bring out the best in everyone around them, and our data show that having them in your network is a strong predictor of success over time. . . . They’re people who always see opportunities, even in challenging situations, and create room for others to meaningfully contribute. Good energizers are trustworthy and committed to principles larger than their self-interest, and they enjoy other people.”
Tip 4. Delegate.
Our next tip is one I saw cleverly dubbed as “D-Day.” That is, Delegation Day. Yup folks, that right. You need to learn, practice, and preach the art of delegation. Don’t waste time trying to do something you’re not ‘geared for.’
Instead, hand it off to someone better suited for the task. Richart G. Neal, author of The Fine Art of Delegating puts it like this:
“Effective managers learn to delegate responsibility without compromising their authority.”
Delegation is a management practice. Apparently it also keeps people sane, as Cam Howey says: "Failure to delegate is a major cause of failure and burnout. . . . The key to delegation is the word entrust. When you delegate, you entrust the entire matter to the other person, along with sufficient authority to make necessary decisions."
Tip 5. Plan Out Your Day--at Night.
Our next tool for the ultimate productive tip bag is what I like to think of as worry elimination. The tool is simply to plan out your day the night before.
In their publication Managing Your Promotional and Marketing Calendar, Albright and O'Malley, country Radio specialists, have this to say about people who don’t plan ahead.
"Many time wasters result from a lack of systems, planning or forethought. . . . Prevent these time wasters with forethought and future planning. . . . develop a routine, a systematic plan for execution, or step-by-step discipline. . ."
Jotting down your tasks for the next day will keep you from tossing and turning in bed worrying about whether or not you forgot something. Moreover, planning ahead and being prepared for the day fosters a sense of calmness.
Tip 6. Initiate Routine.
Our next category encompasses the management of, you had to be expecting this, your time. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to be that boring old person who always gets their donut from the same shop at the same time every morning. (Unless they really have killer donuts . . . in that case, go ahead)
It has more to do with our overarching theme of organization: In speaking about the psychology of what they refer to as organizational routines, Michael D. Cohen and Paul Bacdayan, authors of Organizational Routines Are Stored as Procedural Memory: Evidence from a Laboratory Study have this to say:
"Organizational routines—multi-actor, interlocking, reciprocally-triggered sequences of actions—are a major source of the reliability and speed of organizational performance. Without routines, organizations would lose efficiency as structures for collective action. . . . the knowledgeable design and redesign of routines presents a likely lever for those wishing to enhance organizational performance . . .”
Tip 7. Set Timelines--Clear, Achievable Goals.
And stick to them.
Ever heard that saying, “Where there’s a will there’s a way”? Well, turns out phenomena called the Parkinson Law relates to this. According to the Parkinson Law, again to quote Cam Howey:
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, if you must have a particular task due at 3:00 p.m. today, it is usually done by 3:00 p.m. However, if for the same task you are given until the end of the month, it will usually take till the end of the month."
Tip 8. Work in Time Blocks.
No, this is not playing with Legos, though yes, sometimes we have been caught stacking those addictive little blocks.
What I’m talking about is sectioning out your day, with different times allocated to different subjects/problems.
One technique useful here is the Pomodoro technique. With Pomodoro you set a timer for 25 minutes during which you focus only on that task for the full time. After each 25 minute segment you get a short five minute break. Repeat. Rest. Repeat. Rest. After four Pomodoros, reward yourself with a longer 20-30 minute break.
“Let staff and coworkers know what times you are available and what times you prefer not to be disturbed. Creating blocks of time morning and afternoon for major project work helps to improve productivity (Cam Howey)."
Tip 9. Work in Your Peak Productivity Levels.
How the heck do I tell what my peak productivity hours are? Great question.
I have a solution for you: take this quiz I did when doing my research to determine when your peak hours are (it works by correlating with your body temperature to determine your “peak” time).
And while we’re on the subject, lets take a look at what Ben Greenfield, a Fitness and Lifestyle Performance Coach with masters degrees in exercise physiology, and biomechanics has to say about ‘peak times:’
“During your optimal, peak time of day, you’ll be better at focusing in on a task . . . no matter who you are, you should opt to do challenging and attention-demanding tasks during your peak time of day.”
Tip 10. Take Breaks.
So maybe that’s what you’re doing right now by reading this? Then good for you. Author Sabine Sonnetag, et all, in their book Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, suggests that breaks from work are necessary for recovery.
Buttttt those breaks you take from work are supposed to be for enjoying respite (so reading this might not count—but we hope it does).
"Each of these lines of research has found support for the general premise that breaks do indeed relate to recovery (typically measured as levels of stress and well-being), with the general caveat that breaks are used to engage in activities that are not taxing and are enjoyable."
Tip 11. Create Shortcuts.
One of our simplest, yet arguably more effective tips, this has to do with time-saving. You know yourself; you know what you do every day. Creating shortcuts makes you do those actions quicker. Naturally, our suggesting for this hack is to use WhereDat as your phone's launcher.
If you use your phone a lot for work, being able to find your information faster will therefore make you more productive. By setting WhereDat as your Android's default launcher you will find contacts 7 times faster than when using Google Now. (see study here)
Which brings us to our final category which has to do with, well, like all the above, you. Specifically, your health.
Tip 12. Stay Hydrated.
You are what you eat. Personally, I’d reword that to read something more like, “You are as productive as your fuel allows.”
Staying properly hydrated is a must to productivity—and I’m talking about water, plain old water, not Red bulls and coffee. Keep those in moderation.
Matt Mayberry, contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, says this about drinking H2O: Our bodies need proper hydration to perform at our absolute best. . . . The human body is made up of over 70 percent water. More times than not, when you are feeling sluggish or tired, you are dehydrated. Water is a fundamental aspect of high performance."
Tip 13. Exercise.
That’s right. You have to move something besides your fingers and eyeballs.
Numerous studies show that exercise increase brain activity which, needless to say, is related to productivity. Turns out a little goes a long way too, i.e. a 30 minute walks helps.
"Exercise improves performance; if you’re healthy and fit you are much more able to deal with the pressures and stress of modern life. Research shows that moderate exercise has a dramatic reduction on death rates from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases (Cam Howey)."
That's all the tips we've got.
What about you? What do you do to stay productive?
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