Sometimes it feels that no matter how hard you try, you just don’t have enough time or energy at the end of a work-week. Believe it or not, mindless hard work alone will not let you use your full potential.
Once you learn to tweak your productivity levels at your will, you will realize how much more work you can actually do, without putting a heapload of unwanted effort. Here are a few tips to increase your productivity a few times over. Find out which of these techniques work for you, and stick to it!
1. Short Bursts = More Productivity
The best way to productively utilize your time is to focus all your energy into short intervals of time, with planned breaks between them.
One such world-famous time-management method is the Pomodoro Technique.
Work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. After four bursts of work, take a longer break of 20 minutes.
Each short interval of work is called a ‘pomodoro,’ which is Italian for ‘tomato’. This technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer used by the founder of this technique, Cirillo, when he was a university student.
You may customize this technique– set your pomodori to different durations of time until you find out how long it is possible for you to focus in a single stretch.
2. Take a Break
As mentioned in the previous tip, it is important to have breaks while working. Always plan out your breaks. This makes you look forward to completing your work.
During short breaks, do something as simple as getting a cup of coffee, or arranging the items on your desk. During longer breaks, you could take a power nap, take a walk around your office, or meditate. Avoid replying to texts, checking Facebook or watching Youtube videos – as you guessed already, these activities take more time than you expect. Your smartphone or computer can never provide real relaxation.
3. Productivity Apps on your Mobiles
We’re inseparable from our smartphones. Be it for texting, calling or catching up with the latest news, you’re online 24×7.
Why not use a few apps to increase your productivity?
⦁ Evernote – One of the most powerful apps to take notes. It lets you sort, share, edit, search within and tag all your notes.
⦁ Keep – A simpler version of Evernote.
⦁ Pocket – Your Facebook friend has shared a seemingly interesting article. But you do not have time to read it now. Why not save this article in your phone for later? This app lets you do exactly that. But that’s not the best part – it lets you access all the saved content without an internet connection!
⦁ Inbox – This is the new email service from Google – a much more productive version of Gmail. It sorts all your emails into bundles, such as ‘Social, Finance, Promos, Purchases and so on.
You might very well know that this is just a drop in the ocean of mobile apps. Keep your eyes open for all such productivity apps. (There’s even one for the Pomodoro Technique – check it out)
4. Eat the Frog First.
Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will ever happen to you the rest of the day.”
The idea is to do your least favorite task before moving on to the rest of the work. Imagine leaving the most gruesome task for later– it stays in your mind and disturbs you the whole day. Why put yourself through it? You have to do it anyway. So grit your teeth and get it over with, so that you have the rest of your energy completely focused on the rest of your tasks.
5. Go Missing in Action
Do not always be plugged into the matrix. Arrange some exclusive time for your most important work – and during this time, make sure that you are unavailable. Go offline from your phone and e-mail, as well.
6. Pick a Pal
Find a friend to keep you on track. Once you are accountable to someone, there are more chances for you to get your act together and do a little more work. Better yet, find a colleague with whom you share the same goals, so that you could both be accountable to each other.
7. Learn to Say No
Don’t be nice to others at the expense of your work. Of course, we are social beings and long to maintain cordial relations with our friends and colleagues. However, you must learn to say no to that colleague who needs a favour when you are held up with work.
This doesn’t mean that you must burn bridges and be rude to everyone who comes to you for help! Let them know that you have prioritised your current work. Maybe you could redirect them to another person, or even offer to catch up with them once you complete your work.
8. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
Sometimes, no matter what you do, it is impossible for you to focus. The mind does not stay still no matter how much you try.
When this happens, cut yourself some slack. Take an unplanned break. Call it your ‘vacation’ and indulge in some well-deserved, strain-free hobbies.
9. Forget Perfection. (For now)
Sometimes, the only thing that stops you from doing your job is your fear of failure. “What if it doesn’t turn out as good as I want it to be?” This thought is self-destructive to the point where you do no work whatsoever, making all your fears come true.
The first step is always the hardest. The best way to get past it is this: Just start. Even if it is for a couple of minutes. The starting trouble wears off pretty soon, and you get straight into your work.
To summarise it all, avoid working long hours, which will, no doubt, drain all your energy. Spend a small part of your day planning and prioritising. Work smart, not hard.