“How to increase productivity” is one the most common Google searches — and a question I am often asked.
In fact, there is not a single person I encounter who doesn’t want to know how to get more out of their time. Because we all get the same amount of time to work with, there are two options: work smarter or work longer.
Not many people willingly choose the latter.
Productivity is about being deliberate and purposeful with your time.
Here are seven ways to increase your productivity while ditching the distractions holding you back.
Block calendar time.
So simple. So effective. Many of us are guilty of scheduling every minute of our day. This can actually eliminate time to get things accomplished. Think about it: If you are constantly running from board meeting to client meeting to answering emails and “quick questions” from employees, you’ve put yourself in a position prioritizing distractions over productivity.
Running a business is hard. It’s fast-paced. Often, it is essential to keep a strict calendar to organize your appointments. So do yourself a favor and pencil in “work time.” This is a meeting with you; it is an important engagement that requires zero interruptions.
Go off the grid.
We are all guilty of allowing ourselves to be on call. We work, but we keep our email open in another browser and check it every time we look up. We answer text messages on our phone the minute we receive the notification.
Setting blocks of time to check your email allows you to regain control over your schedule and, therefore, your productivity.
Quiet your workspace.
For many people, noise equals distractions. To increase your productivity, do what you can to quiet your workspace. Shut the door. Go to another part of the building.
If you are the type of person who needs a certain amount of ambient noise, take control over it.
Purchase an ambient sound machine or play instrumental music. Finding quality ambient sound is also a way to tune out other loud distractions if leaving your workspace for another is not an option.
Set small, manageable goals.
When tasks feel overwhelming, we can be unsure of where to begin — and so we don’t. Don’t let this be you. By breaking up large tasks into smaller, more manageable goals, you take the pressure off yourself.
After time has passed, be sure to check up on your goals to understand which objectives you have reached and which are left. Then create a plan for meeting them.
Call for “standing” meetings.
Meetings are essential for communicating with your team, but they are also productivity’s No. 1 enemy. These time-suckers can quickly halt momentum.
Try holding “standing” meetings. Yes, they are just what they sound like: Everyone stands the whole time. While this tactic may not work for every agenda, you will quickly find that people cut straight to the point during these meetings and are less likely to stray off topic.
This saves valuable time for you to reallocate to your own tasks. Standing meetings have also been shown to increase team morale and improve group performance.
Take it one task at a time.
Quit multitasking. Seriously. Trying to handle multiple things at one time has actually been shown to decrease productivity.
Look at it strategically. When you multitask, no one thing gets your focused attention. You end up taking more time to complete each task. Fully throw yourself into one specific project and watch the progress happen.
Take predetermined breaks.
Don’t forget to give yourself a break. Performing long tasks without allowing yourself to rest will lead to burnout: Your productivity will slow down because your brain is tired.
Think of taking a 10-minute break every two hours as refueling your mental fortitude. You can’t expect to produce quality work if your brain is running on empty.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.