Tips and tricks to increasing personal productivity
Many people think productivity means being constantly busy with work. However, maintaining those frenetic levels of energy, every single moment of the day, is impossible and unrealistic. Rather, the secret to productivity is getting things done in the most simple and effective way.
Productive people are those who plan ahead, and make the most of their time. Each task that needs to be completed is allotted its own space of time, (including lunch and relaxation time!).
You may have come across the phrase: “hard work versus hardly working”, at some point or another, and at times it’s difficult to understand the difference between the two.
Studies have shown that ‘hard workers’ are those who are able to dedicate a chunk of time to a certain task, and concentrate on it deliberately until it is completed. Getting a task done in one hour now, as opposed to three hours spread throughout the day is what productivity and hard workers are all about.
This is as opposed to ‘hardly-working’ workers who spread the task throughout the day, in disjointed bits and pieces, because of poor time management skills, procrastination, and lack of concentration.
Most people have experienced both types. While working hard is satisfying, it is also more rigorous, and demands dedication and intense concentration. But when the task is done there is always that feeling of satisfaction with all the loose ends tied up, allowing you to put it out of your head and move on to other things.
‘Hardly working’, however, is most often employed when the task in question is boring, challenging, or simply immense. Continually shifting your focus from the task at hand to something else, and then back to the task, creates a false impression of busy-ness, but is really just a waste of time.
We’ve all had those days when any excuse for a distraction will do. When you find yourself jumping from project to project, and yet nothing substantial gets done. This is far from ideal, so here are some tips for creating a more productive workplace.
Keep tasks within a single time-frame
Don’t break them up over the day as this interrupts your concentration. While you work on one project, a part of your mind will always be thinking ahead to the next project that you will have to move on to in a short period. As a result, the task you are currently working on will suffer, and the outcome will be less than desired. Rather, focus on one task for a set amount of time, and once that time is up, move on. Also, schedule the hardest tasks to be tackled first in the day, when your mind is fresh. This is beneficial because concentration wanes as the day progresses, and facing a mammoth task a few hours before home-time is the last thing you want to face when you’re tired.
Cut out multi-tasking
Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is not an asset when it comes to doing a good job. It is impossible for the brain to manage more than one task and perform them all equally. Dedicate a set amount of time to a single task, and once it is complete, move on.
Set some down-time aside each day
If you have a pre-defined period of the day to check Facebook, LinkedIn, or cat videos on Youtube, you’ll be less likely to stray during work hours. Giving yourself some breathing room where your brain can relax for a while means you will return to your work refreshed and raring to go.
Learn how to properly use your computer software
We get into a rhythm of doing things that we stick to because it’s all we know, even if it’s not the best way to do them. Learning the ins and outs of your software programmes will lead you to discover handy shortcuts that will boost efficiency, and minimise the time it takes to complete tasks. For example, instead of reading through every page of text, searching for that phrase you spied once but now can’t remember where it is, simply press Ctrl + F, to bring up the ‘find’ function. Typing in your word or phrase will automatically identify where it is on the page, if it is there at all.
Lists are your friend
Not only do they help organise your day into tasks that need to be completed, it is also satisfying to tick each one off as you finish!
When it comes to enhancing productivity at work, the trick is to know when to say when. Often people pack too much into their day, and desperately try to get it all done. Setting realistic goals for yourself will reduce the stress at not being able to finish everything.
Make a plan, stick to it, and reap the rewards of a productive day!