“Ordinary people think merely of spending time, great people think of using it.”Arthur Schopenhauer
We all want to be more productive. Whether you’re working on a big project, checking off tasks on your to-do list, doing life-admin, or just trying to fit a quick workout into your day, the systems and methods you use to get shit done are critical to achieving your goals.
What does this mean? It means that being effective isn’t just about focussing on the task in front of you, it requires for example: thinking about which tasks are most critical, understanding how long a task or project might take to complete, limiting external forces that might throw you off task, and managing your energy and your competing priorities. When you combine these factors together, you start to create a way of working, or a personal productivity system.
Your personal productivity system should be highly personalised, based on your individual needs, goals, tendencies, and inclinations. But, there are also a number of tried-and-true productivity strategies which should form the basis of your own productivity system.
Here are 5 underrated tactics that set the scene for hyper-productivity:
- Plan your time in advance: Start your week by taking 30 minutes to plan out your week; and at the end of each day, take 10 minutes to plan out tomorrow. This can help you stay organised and focused, and will help you allocate your time effectively. To create the time in your day for these activities, block out time in your calendar.
- Prioritise your tasks: Identify your most critical tasks and schedule them into your calendar at times when you do your best, most focused work. For example, if you are a morning person, tackle your most important tasks first thing in the morning, or if you’re more of an afternoon or evening person, schedule critical tasks later in the day. Then, schedule meetings or other less-critical “next actions” that don’t require you to be on your A-game. The key here is to actually schedule your priorities into your calendar, and not just create another to-do list.
- Take breaks: It’s essential to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Recovery is critical and will help you stay fresh and focused, and will help you avoid burnout. Schedule rest periods into your calendar and use the Pomodoro technique to break up work sprints.
- Limit distractions: Try to minimise distractions as much as possible by finding a quiet place to work, turning off notifications on your phone and computer, and blocking out time in your calendar for focused work. Reflect on those times when you are seeking distraction, as this is likely a sign you’re avoiding important work.
- Stay flexible: Be open to adjusting your schedule. If something unexpected comes up or you find that you’re not as productive as you’d hoped, don’t be too hard on yourself. Shit happens, so simply reevaluate your schedule, make changes as needed, and get on with your day.
There are plenty of other strategies and tactics for improving your productivity, but these are the big rocks you want to focus on and get right. These tactics should make up the foundation of a personalised productivity system that you can feel confident building upon.
If you have suggestions for other foundational productivity strategies, remember that sharing is caring – pop your suggestions into the comments below.
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