February 22, 2010
Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Increase Productivity
Living the connected life does not mean you have to tolerate the distracted background noises. It seems like the modern world stacks the deck against us when it comes to getting things done. We are bombarded with distractions from cell phones, the web, instant messenger, radio and every other modern convenience you can think of.
Between work, family and chasing long forgotten sanity, our lives are packed to the brim. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!! (Hint: If you have a time-machine, please send it my way.)
So how do you stay productive when you’re surrounded by technology and people that constantly fight for your attention? Follow these simple rules and you’ll be on your way to a manageable life.
1. Get Rid of Distractions
Sounds simple enough, but if take a step back and look at your work space, I bet you’ll find distractions you never knew were there.
- Start with your computer’s desktop. How many browser windows do you have open? Do you have your personal and work email open at the same time? How many folders, spreadsheets and documents are on your desktop? Put everything in its place and only have open what you’re working on right then. Try to not even let things run in the toolbar if you can avoid it.
- Need to pound out that sales letter but just can’t quite stop yourself from rating songs on Pandora or checking your ex-girlfriend’s relationship status on Facebook? The use Write Room — a simple word processor that goes to a full screen so all you have is the black background and your green words.
- Let your phones go to voicemail. Man invented caller ID for a reason, check to see if it’s someone you need to talk to and answer accordingly.
2. Avoid Time Bandits
We’ve all experienced the “FWD: Soooo Funny – Check it out” email chain. We all have people that send us distracting, “funny” emails that bog down your productivity in favor of the latest gossip or funny YouTube video. These people are typically guilty of engaging you in office politics and chit chat gossip as well. Sometimes they even want to show you their latest gadget. Like sharks in the water, Time Bandits can smell when someone is looking to slack off and will be there to help you waste your time. Cue the Jaws theme song.
While being anti-social is not a good policy, identify these people and stay away from them when you need to crank something out. Being upfront and honest with these bandits is another option; “Sorry Tom, I really have to get back to this report.”
3. Do One Thing at a Time
Our society seems to encourage multitasking and respects those that do it successfully. Studies show that multitasking does not increase productivity and at its worse can be very dangerous; just think about texting and driving! Focus on one duty at a time and give it your full attention. You’ll get through it quicker and produce a better result.
Make yourself a “To Do” list and attack it head on by doing the most important thing first. Work like you only have a three hour work day. If you had to get something done in this super short day, what would it be? Even if you get nothing else done during the day, you can reflect on that one instance of high productivity.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out the most important thing on your list, identify what you want to do the least. Knock that bad boy out first thing in your day and the rest of the day will be a walk in the park.
What works for some people doesn’t work for all. Finding what works best for you is the key to productivity and self-actualization. Take these basic guidelines and individualize to meet your unique needs and situations.
Some people find complete silence deafening and ultimately distracting. If you’re one of these, then play some music in the back ground to keep you going. Many workers find that they are more productive at a certain time of the day. Identify your “work zone” and plan to tackle the most important stuff in those hours.
Get ‘er Done
By following these simple steps even the most daunting inbox will seem like a trip to the break room. Find what works best for you and don’t let others steer you off the path to true productivity.